Viswanathan Anand used all his experience and also capitalized on Paco Vallejo Pons' mistakes to extend his lead in rapid section and also become the sole second in overall standings after eighth round at the Melody Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament.
Anand won both his games in blindfold and rapid sections and gave himself a chance to catch up the overall leader Vladimir Kramnik, who is now one and a half points clear of Anand.
In the eighth round Kramnik defeated Boris Gelfand 1.5-0.5, while his nearest rival, Vasily Ivanchuk, lost 0.5-1.5 against Magnus Carlsen.
Kramnik continued his fantastic run in the blindfold with a win. The new runner-up in the combined standings is Anand, who dominates the rapid competition with a 6.5 out of 8 score.
Tomorrow is a rest day. Round 9 will start on Tuesday, March 27.
Anand has never lost to Vallejo Pons in 15 games and he has won seven times and interestingly all seven wins have come in four editions of Melody Amber tournament. The only time Vallejo Pons managed a draw was in blindfold in 2006.
In the blindfold game which began in Ruy Lopez, Anand, for a long time, felt his game against Paco Vallejo Pons was a 'smooth game'.
"I was fine, except for the fact that I couldn't see the pieces", Anand said with a smile.
The game developed quietly and just like the Indian grandmaster himself, everyone had the feeling that he was converting his advantage with a steady hand.
When Vallejo played 37 g4, Anand was slightly puzzled. When he also pushed 38 g3 he was even more puzzled. But after he had taken the pawn he suddenly realized that Black had created a second passed pawn.
In the phase that followed Anand miraculously managed to stay in the game and looking back he wasn't sure if he'd been lost or if the position was a draw.
Once he had survived these critical moments things were going his way again. The game turned around for a second time and now Anand remained alert and claimed the full point in 55 moves.
Anand also won the rapid game in Queen's Indian. This time Vallejo had even more reason to be unhappy.
When Black played the opening a bit too optimistic, White (Vallejo) got a tremendous position.
Vallejo wasn't quite sure if he had been winning, but in any case it was hard to imagine that he would lose from this position. He did when he let Anand back into the game and the win came in 51 moves.
Or, as Leko aptly commented in the hospitality lounge, 'When Vishy gets a chance he uses it. That's why he is Vishy.'
Results Round 8: Blindfold: Van Wely lost to Aronian; Morozevich beat Leko; Kramnik beat Gelfand; Ivanchuk drew with Carlsen; Radjabov lost to Svidler; Anand beat Vallejo
Results Round 8: Rapid: Aronian drew with Van Wely; Leko beat Morozevich; Gelfand drew with Kramnik; Carlsen beat Ivanchuk; Svidler beat Radjabov; Vallejo lost to Anand
Round 8 Standings: Blindfold: 1. Kramnik 7.5; 2. Svidler 5.5; 3. Ivanchuk and Gelfand 5.0; 5. Morozevich 4.5; 6. Anand and Aronian 4.0; 8. Radjabov 3.5; 9. Carlsen and Leko 3.0; 11. Van Wely and Vallejo Pons 1.5;
Round 8 Standings: Rapid: 1. Anand 6.5; 2. Aronian 5.5; 3. Ivanchuk 5.0; 4. Carlsen, Kramnik and Leko 4.5; 7. Svidler 4.0; 8. Morozevich 3.5; 9. Gelfand 3.0; 10. Radjabov and Vallejo Pons 2.5; 12. Van Wely 2.0;
Round 8 Standings: Combined: 1. Kramnik 12.0; 2. Anand 10.5; 3. Ivanchuk 10.0; 4. Svidler and Aronian 9.5; 6. Morozevich and Gelfand 8.0; 8. Carlsen and Leko 7.5; 10. Radjabov 6.0; 11. Vallejo Pons 4.0; 12. Van Wely 3.5