Viswanathan Anand struck back with vengeance, making mincemeat of Dutchman Loek Van Wely in the ninth round of Group 'A' at the Corus International chess tournament in Wijk Aan Zee, the Netherlands.
After two losses in three days, Anand found his magical touch on his favourite hunting ground where the Indian ace has won an unparalleled five titles.
The victory also helped Anand narrow the gap between him and tournament leader Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria as the latter was held to a draw by Levon Aronian of Armenia.
The Indian's superlative effort did not do any great help to his present standing in the event, but raised visions of an improved finish after disaster struck him mid-way in the Category19 super tournament.
Topalov, with 6.5 points from 9 games, retained sole lead as nearest contender Azeri Teimour Radjabov also settled for a draw with Norwegian Magnus Carlsen.
While Radjabov edged himself up to six points, world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia signed peace with compatriot Peter Svidler and both inched to 5.5 points along with Aronian.
Anand now stands joint sixth along with Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine on 5 points with four rounds still to come.
In Group 'C', being played simultaneously, more good news for the Indians followed as the world's youngest Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi scored a thumping victory over Dutch GM Harmen Jonkman.
Negi took his tally to 5 points in the event that is dominated by Russian International Master Ian Nepomniachtchi, leading on a very impressive 8 points after 9 rounds.
Parimarjan is joint fifth in this section.
Anand faced the Sicilian Nazdorf and sprang an early surprise on Wely by going for the variation Alexander Motylev had earlier chosen against him in the second round here. The players followed the same game till move 20 and thereafter, smelling danger, Wely was the first to deviate by sacrificing an exchange but the Indian had apparently prepared the position too deep already.
The Dutchman stood no chance once Anand's rooks took control of the board and it took just 41 moves for Anand to score his third victory in the event.
Playing the black side of a Sicilian Alapin, Parimarjan ensured complications at first available opportunity by going for a very imbalanced queen less middle game. Jonkman apparently was at sea in trying to figure out a way to get advantage and his position deteriorated once Parimarjan's pieces joined his pawns on the king side.
Making a tactical mistake in analysis, Jonkman allowed black's pawns to promote too far on board and did not get a second chance.
In other decisive game of the 'A' group, Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine halted a good run of compatriot Sergey Karjakin in a finely crafted game. It took just 32 moves for Ponomariov to complete the formalities.
Breaking the ice for the first time was Latvian born Spaniard Alexei Shirov, who registered his first victory in the event at the expense of David Navara of Czceh Republic in a game where the latter blundered in a decent position.
In the next round now, Anand meets Karjakin as black and a victory can propel him closer to his main rivals in the event.
Results (Rd 9, Gr 'A'): D Navara (Cze, 4) lost to Alexei Shirov (Esp, 2.5); R Ponomariov (Ukr, 4.5) beat S Karjakin (Ukr); V Anand (Ind, 5) beat Loek van Wely (Ned, 3); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5.5) drew with V Topalov (Bul, 6.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 3) drew with Teimour Radjabov (Aze, 6); Peter Svidler (Rus, 5.5) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5.5); Sergey Tiviakov (Ned, 3.5) drew with A Motylev (Rus, 3.5).
Group 'C': John van der Wiel (Ned, 3) drew with Thomas Willemze (Ned, 2); E Berg (Swe, 6) lost to Michal Krasenkow (Pol, 6.5); M Bosboom (Ned, 5) lost to Nadezhda Kosintseva (Rus, 3.5); Harmen Jonkman (Ned,2.5) lost to Parimarjan Negi (Ind); Edwin van Haastert (Ned, 4.5) beat Stellan Brynell (Swe, 2.5); Zhaoqin Peng (Ned, 4) lost to W Spoelman (Ned, 5); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 8) drew with Hou Yifan (Chn, 5.5).
V Anand v/s Loek Van Wely: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6 8. Qd2 Qxb2 9. Rb1 Qa3 10. e5 h6 11. Bh4 dxe5 12. fxe5 Nfd7 13. Ne4 Qxa2 14. Rd1 Qd5 15. Qe3 Qxe5 16. Be2 Bc5 17. Bg3 Bxd4 18. Rxd4 Qa5+ 19. Rd2 O-O 20. Bd6 Nc6 21. Bxf8 Nxf8 22. O-O Bd7 23. Nd6 Ne5 24. Nxb7 Qc7 25. Nd6 f6 26. c4 Bc6 27. Ra1 Nfd7 28. Qd4 a5 29. Nb5 Qb6 30. Qxb6 Nxb6 31. Rd6 Nbd7 32. Nd4 Be4 33. Nxe6 a4 34. Nc7 Ra5 35. Ra6 Rxa6 36. Nxa6 Bc6 37. c5 Bb7 38. Rc1 Nc6 39. Nc7 Nd4 40. Bc4+ Kf8 41. Rd1 black resigned.
Harmen Jonkman v/s Parimarjan Negi: 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. dxc5 Qxd1+ 7. Kxd1 e5 8. b4 e4 9. h3 Bh5 10. g4 Nxg4 11. hxg4 Bxg4 12. Nbd2 exf3 13. Bd3 Nc6 14. Re1+ Be7 15. Kc2 Kf8 16. a4 h5 17. Ba3 Nd8 18. Be4 Rc8 19. Nxf3 h4 20. Nd4 Rh5 21. Nb5 a6 22. Nd6 Bxd6 23. cxd6 b5 24. axb5 axb5 25. Bc1 Re5 26. f3 Bxf3 27. d7 Rc4 28. Bxf3 Rxe1 29. Bg5 Rxa1 30. Bxd8 Ra2+ 31. Kd3 Ra3 32. Bf6 Rcxc3+ 33. Bxc3 Ke7 34. Bc6 h3 35. Bxb5 h2 36. Bc6 f6 37. b5 Ra7 38. Bb4+ Kd8 39. Bd6 Rxd7 40. Bxd7 h1=Q white resigned.