World champion Viswanathan Anand played out a draw with Israeli Boris Gelfand to improve to the joint third spot after the ninth round of the Corus International Chess tournament in Wijk Aan Zee.
The Indian ace did not have any trouble in holding Gelfand with black, but in a major turnaround, Hungarian Peter Leko defeated overnight sole leader Magnus Carlsen of Norway to leave the field wide open.
With Russian Vladimir Kramnik bowing to some fine attacking display by Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, Levon Aronian of Armenia joined Carlsen at the top of the standings with 5.5 points.
Anand inched himself up to joint third spot on five points and giving him company are Kramnik, Teinour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and Michael Adams of England with just four rounds remaining in the category-20 tournament.
In the 'B' group, being played simultaneously, the Indian Grandmasters' duel between Koneru Humpy and P Harikrishna ended in a draw without much ado. Playing white, Humpy played it safe in the Neo-Grunfeld.
The draw helped Harikrishna retain his joint fourth spot on five points as Sergei Movsesian of Slovakia retained sole lead after drawing with Nigel Short of England.
With Movsesian on 6.5 points, the second place in this section is held by Etienne Bacrot of France on six points while Short is clear third another half point adrift.
Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi was held to a draw by Mark van der Werf of Holland in the 'C' Group. Playing white, the Dutchman played a closed position wherein the Indian did not get many chances.
Fabiano Caruana of Italy strengthened his position at the top of the tables in this section defeating John van der Wiel of Holland. The Italian teenager took his tally to 7 points out of a possible 9 and remained a half point clear of Dutch GM Dmitry Reinderman.
Negi is joint third along with Friso Nijboer of Holland on 5.5 points.
Anand repeated the moves that he last played against Gelfand in the World championship match tournament. The Israeli had a new idea but it did not yield much after Anand's spectacular 20th move.
Gelfand realised in quick time that it was futile to try something and was in fact proud of the correct defence that he produced thereafter.
Leko faced the Breyer variation in the Ruy Lopez against Carlsen who played black. The Hungarian could have won a pawn with excellent chances in the middle game that ensued but instead went for a wild continuation that resulted in Carlsen gaining two knights for a rook and a strong passed white pawn.
The game came to a rather abrupt end when Carlsen blundered, leaving his one knight hanging on the queen side
Veselin Topalov played a remarkable game to beat Kramnik from a Semi Slav defense game. Uncorking a well-preserved opening Novelty involving a piece sacrifice in the Semi Slav defence, Topalov kept Kramnik on the hook for the major part of the game and when the Russian failed to spot the best possible continuations it was all over.
Interestingly, as if through an extension of Short-Cheparinov controversy in the previous round, there was no handshake between the two but since neither player offered the handshake the matter was reviewed only lightly.
Results and standings
Group A - Results: Round 9
Michael Adams beat Loek van Wely
Levon Aronian drew with Pavel Eljanov
Vassily Ivanchuk drew with Shak Mamedyarov
Judit Polgar drew with Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov beat Vladimir Kramnik
Boris Gelfand drew with Viswanathan Anand
Peter Leko beat Magnus Carlsen
Standings after Round 9:
1. L. Aronian and M. Carlsen -- 5.5
3. V. Kramnik, T. Radjabov, M. Adams and V. Anand -- 5 points
7. S. Mamedyarov, V. Ivanchuk, V. Topalov and P. Leko -- 4.5 points
11. J. Polgar and L. van Wely -- 4 points
13. P. Eljanov and B. Gelfand -- 3 points
The moves: (Boris Gelfand v/s V Anand)
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. Qxc4 b5 9. Qc2 Bb7 10. Bd2 Bd6 11. Re1 Be4 12. Qc1 Bb7 13. Bg5 Nbd7 14. e4 Be7 15. Nbd2 c5 16. e5 Nd5 17. Ne4 cxd4 18. Qd2 Bxg5 19. Nexg5 h6 20. Ne4 Ne3 21. fxe3 Bxe4 22. exd4 Bd5 23. Nh4 Nb6 24. Be4 Rc8 25. Ng2 Bxe4 game drawn.