World champion Viswanathan Anand tried hard but an alert Teimour Radjabov held on to steer the game to a draw in the eighth round of the Magistral Ciudad De Linares chess tournament.
On a day when Levon Aronian of Armenia accounted for Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Russian Alexander Grischuk hung on to his full point lead after settling for a draw with Lenier Dominguez of Cuba.
In the other game of the day, Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk played out a draw with Wang Yue of China.
With six rounds to go in the super Grandmasters event, Grischuk has 5.5 points in his kitty and the nearest contenders now are Ivanchuk and Aronian, both of whom have 4.5 points each.
Anand remained in joint fourth spot on 4 points and giving him company is Carlsen. Dominguez on 3.5 holds the sixth spot while the seventh position is shared by Radjabov and Wang Yue half a point behind.
For Anand it was a missed opportunity, as the Indian ace had the advantage amid the complexities against Radjabov.
The semi-Slav by Anand as black led to a new position on move 16th after Radjabov produced a 'novelty' but the Indian came out unscathed in the next few moves and started exerting pressure with his better placed pieces.
What followed were wild complications and tactics but Radjabov remained calm and produced just the right defensive moves to stay in the game.
After the dust settled the players found themselves in a double rook endgame and draw was the only possible result.
"Of course I was in a better position but I could not really find a way to win," Anand said after the game.
Aronian staged a comeback at the expense of Carlsen, who blundered in a seemingly drawn position. It was another semi-Slav anti-Meran that surprised Aronian as he has himself played the set up with white many times.
The Armenian came up with a new idea and nullified the threat and Carlsen blundered when he should have drawn.
"His choice of opening surprised me. It's tragic for him and a lucky win for me," said Aronian at the post-match press conference.
Ivanchuk could little against Yue's solid Petroff defence. The players reached a rook and minor piece endgame where Ivanchuk stood slightly better thanks to his bishop. But once he exchanged it for the knight the resulting position was theoretically drawn. Peace was signed in 66 moves.
Tournament leader Grischuk got into trouble with white against Dominguez in a Gruenfeld Exchange. The Cuban GM managed to neutralise Grischuk's strong initiative and even found himself on the pleasant side of a drawn ending. Grischuk managed to hold after 47 moves.