World champion Viswanathan Anand's third successive loss has put him out of the title race in the Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament as he went down 0.5-1.5 against Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine in the ninth round in Nice.
Anand's form in the rapid was found wanting once again as the Indian blundered a pawn for little compensation after earlier drawing the blindfold game.
The loss put Anand decisively out of reckoning for the top honours after Armenian Levon Aronian scored a resounding 2-0 victory over Alexander Morozevich of Russia.
Aided by the fine triumph, Aronian took his tally to 12.5 points in the overall standings and stretched his lead to a whopping 2.5 points over nearest rivals Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Peter Leko of Hungary and Magnus Carlsen of Ukraine.
Ivanchuk and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria share the fifth spot jointly on 9.5 points each while Anand slipped to seventh spot on 9 points.
With just two rounds remaining, Aronian appears to be a confirmed bet for the overall title as well as rapid where he has two points lead over over Ivanchuk Carslen and Leko. Anand stands joint fifth in rapid on 4.5 points.
There is fiercer contest in the blindfold where it is now a three-way lead between Kramnik, Morozevich and Aronian who all have 5.5 points each.
Topalov, Leko and Carlsen are next in line on five points while Anand shares the seventh spot in this section on 4.5 points.
Anand was on the receiving end in the rapid after missing out a simple blow on move 19th. Starting against an English opening as black, Anand missed out on his chances and lost a pawn. Ivanchuk gave no chances thereafter and scored a smooth victory after 33 moves.
Earlier, playing white, Anand was surprised by Ivanchuk in the opening when the latter opted for the Pirc defense and when the Indian realised there was not much for him as white, the peace was a natural result.
Morozevich's play in the key encounter against Aronian was not too convincing. The opening did not bring him anything and when he allowed his opponent to push the central pawn, the Russian was in trouble.
Aronian also created a 'passed pawn' that could only be stopped by sacrificing the white's dark-squared bishop and a handful of moves later the game was over.
Aronian dealt a second blow in the rapid game. He had Morozevich on the ropes right from the middle game. The Russian champion fought on for some time, but after 59 moves Aronian hauled in a most precious point.