On a day when World champion Viswanathan Anand had a bye, Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura of the United States stole the thunder with a fine victory over Armenian Levon Aronian, in the second round of third London Chess Classic.
Russian Vladimir Kramnik made merry, scoring a thumping victory over an out-of-sorts Nigel Short of England, while the other two games ended in draws, and first to sign peace was English David Howell with compatriot Michael Adams.
In the other game, World number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway had to suffer a long time before he could salvage a half point against Luke McShane of England.
With seven rounds still to go in the 160,000 Euros prize-money tournament, Carlsen, Kramnik and Nakamura share the lead on four points each in the soccer-like scoring system in place.
Michael Adams holds the second spot on two points, with two draws, along with McShane. They are followed by Anand, Howell and Aronian with one point each.
Nigel is in last place and yet to open his account although he and Anand have an extra game in hand.
Nakamura started the year by winning the Tata Steel tournament ahead of the world's best, including Anand, but has had mixed results thereafter.
The American, who is now trained by former World champion Garry Kasparov, displayed top form in defeating Aronian that made the pundits believe that he might be at the busy end of the finishing line.
Playing white against Aronian, Nakamura continued the theoretical discussion in the Queen's gambit declined for the third time running.
The Armenian obtained a decent position in the middle game after sacrificing his rook for a knight but subsequent time pressure had a telling effect. As it happened, Aronian walked in to a losing endgame wherein Nakamura showed precise technique to clinch the issue.
Nigel was outdone in exemplary fashion by Kramnik, who was sympathetic. Nigel employed the four Knights opening as white and went for a harmless structure. Kramnik spent some time in the opening to find some unique ways to complicate and create chances.
Nigel's plan to exchange pieces did not come good and the players reached a bishop and pawns endgame which was child's play for the Russian.
Howell and Adams debated a closed Ruy Lopez before splitting the point while Carlsen was let off the hook by McShane after 83 moves.
Results round 2: Hikaru Nakamura (US, 4) beat Levon Aronian (Arm, 1); Nigel Short (0, Eng) lost to Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 4); Luke McShane (Eng, 2) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 4); David Howell (Eng, 1) drew with Michael Adams (Eng, 2); V Anand had a bye.