Viswanathan Anand's chances of a podium finish ended after the Indian played out another draw with Nikita Vituigov of Russia in the 10th round of Tata Steel Chess Masters in Wijk Aan Zee, the Netherlands.
American Fabiano Caruana inflicted a second straight loss on Alireza Firouzja on Thursday to retain sole lead with just three rounds to come in the 13-round marathon event being played under round-robin basis.
Caruana still has some tough battles but for now looks good to win his maiden title.
Magnus Carlsen of Norway won his third game on the trot at the expense of Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus to move to sole second spot behind Caruana. The reigning world champion still has a task on hand if he is to win the tournament.
Anand played the Italian game with white pieces but could get little out of opening against Vituigov who is a known theoretician himself.
The Indian ace yet again tried for complications but the Russian was up to the task and equalised comfortably in the early middle game.
Anand sacrificed a pawn but Vituigov forced a series of repetition to force a draw a little later.
As things stand, Caruana leads the tables on seven points and Carlsen is breathing down his neck a half point behind. Anand is far away on 4.5 points.
In the Challenger's section, David Anton Gujjaro took sole lead on seven points from 10 games, defeating Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine.
India's Surya Shekhar Ganguly, on six points, has to win heavy in last few rounds to make a match of it. The other Indian Nihal Sarin drew with Ganguly in this round.
Results Masters round 9: Daniil Dubov (Rus, 4.5) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 5); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 7) beat Alireza Firouzja (Fid, 5.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 6.5) beat Vladislav Kovalev (Blr, 3) Jorden Van Foreest (Ned, 6) drew with Jan-Krzysztof Duda (Pol, 5.5); Jeffery Xiong (Usa, 4.5) beat Vladislav Artemiev (Rus, 4.5); Yu Yangyi (Chn, 3.5) drew with Wesley So (Usa, 6); V Anand (Ind, 4) drew with Nikita Vituigov (Rus, 3.5).
Challengers: Rauf Mamedov (Aze, 5) drew with Lucas van Foreest (Ned, 5); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (Ind, 6) drew with Nihal Sarin (Ind, 5); Jan Smeets (Ned, 5) drew with Nils Grandelius (Swe, 5); David Anton Guijarro (Esp, 7) beat Pavel Eljanov (Ukr, 6); Dinara Saduakassova (Kaz, 2) lost to Anton Smirnov (Aus,, 4); Nodirbek Abdusattorov (Uzb, 6) beat Max Warmerdam (Ned, 2); Erwin L'Ami (Ned, 6.5) drew with Vincent Keymer (Ger, 5).