Top seed P Harikrishna remained on course for his second successive Marx Gyorgy Memorial Chess title as he retained his sole lead with an easy draw in the eighth round in Paks, Hungary.
Harikrishna, playing with black, split the points with Hungarian GM Ferenc Berkes to take his tally to 5, half a point clear of Swiss veteran Viktor Korchnoi and Hungarian Csaba Balogh.
After three victories on the trot, the draw was more of a consolidation for Harikrishna as with two rounds remaining, the Indian is now the top contender for the title.
In the next round Harikrishna will take on tournament baby Hou Yifan of China and starts a favourite against the lowest ranked player of the meet.
Harikrishna's home work came good against Berkes as the Hyderabad-lad improved upon a recent game played between veterans Jan Timman of Holland and Hungarian Zoltan Ribli.
It was one of the main lines of Slav defense where Berkes followed theory for a long time and was surprised when Harikrishna came up with a new idea on the 21st move.
A spate of exchanges followed thereafter and peace was signed six moves later.
"I had seen this idea during preparation. My analysis in fact ran deeper than when the game ended but Berkes saw the forced draw coming up and just proposed", Harikrishna said after the game.
On his chances of winning Harikrishna said, "There are still two more games remaining and a lot can happen, I have started enjoying this tournament after a bad start and I will be happy to keep things going."