World champion Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand scored an impressive victory over Jan Smeets of Holland to jump to sole lead after the end of the fifth round of the 'A' group in the 73rd Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk Aan Zee.
With his third victory from five games, Anand took his tally to four points and is now half a point ahead of nearest rival Hikaru Nakamura of United States who played out a draw with Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine.
On a day that saw Magnus Carlsen coming back to form with a hard-earned victory over local hope Erwin L'Ami, Chinese Wang Hao also scored his first victory at the expense of Alexander Grischuk of Russia.
With eight rounds still to come in the 14-player round-robin tournament, Anish Giri of Holland is in joint third spot with three points along with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France while Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia share the fifth spot on 2.5 points each.
Anand played the Brayer defense in the Ruy Lopez opening and after equalizing the Indian ace was simply superb on the board. When many believed to a be a drawn endgame, Anand continued to fight for a victory giving up a rook for a Bishop.
The game could have been drawn with precise play but Smeets allowed Anand to march ahead with his pawn after a blunder on the 57th move. By the time the Dutchman, who had a fine start, gave back his extra material, Anand had knocked down three pawns and it was all over in quick time.
Carlsen's perseverance paid off in his game against L'Ami, who defended a worse position well for the major part of the game. The world number one Norwegian went for a double edged endgame and won a pawn but the technicalities were far from easy as L'Ami matched him move for move.
Carlsen could finally manage a rook and knight versus rook endgame that is theoretically drawn and was eventually helped by L'Ami's blunder in this longest game of the day.
In the 'B' group, Surya Shekhar Ganguly committed a blunder to lose to Philippines' Wesley So. With just 1.5 points in his bag from five games, the soon-to-be-married second of Anand will need to recover before it's too late. The leader in this section is Luke McShane who has four points while Ganguly shares the last spot.
Tania Sachdev did not have to do much in her game against Robin Van Kampen of Holland in 'C' group as her preparation as black came good to snatch an easy half point. Tania, who started as the lowest seed in the category-11 field, inched up to 2.5 points and meets leader Daniele Vocaturo of Italy in the next round.
Results of Round 5 group 'A':
Group 'A': Jan Smeets (Ned, 2) lost to Viswanathan Anand (4); Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 3.5) drew with Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr, 2.5); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 3) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 3); Magnus Calrsen (Nor, 2.5) beat Erwin L'Ami (Ned, 2); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 2.5) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm, 3); Wang Hao (Chn, 2) beat Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 1.5); Ian Nepomniachtichi (Rus, 2.5) drew with Alexei Shirov (Esp, 1).
Group 'B': Luke McShane (Eng, 4) drew with Laurent Fressinet (Fra, 3); Radoslav Wojtaszek (Pol, 3) beat Friso Nijboer (Ned, 2); Le Quang Liem (Vie, 1.5) drew with Vladislav Tkachiev (Fra, 2); Gabriel Sargissian (Arm, 3) drew with Li Chao (Chn, 2); Jon Ludvig Hammer (Nor, 2) beat Wouter Spoelman (Ned, 2); Zahar Efimenko (Ukr, 3.5) beat David Navara (Cze, 2.5); Surya Shekhar Ganguly (Ind, 1.5) lost to Wesley So (Phi, 3).
Group 'C': Ivan Ivanisevic (Srb, 2.5) beat Benjamin Bok (Ned, 2.5); Kateryna Lahno (Ukr, 3.5) beat Sebastian Siebrecht (Ger, 2.5); Dariusz Swiercz (Pol, 2) lost to Mark van der Werf (Ned, 3); Illya Nyzhnyk (Ukr, 4) beat Roeland Pruijssers (Ned, 1); Robin van Kampen (Ned, 1.5) drew with Tania Sachdev (Ind, 2.5); Daniele Vocaturo (Ita, 4.5) beat Mark Bluvshtein (Can, 3); Murtas Kazhgaleyev (Kaz, 2) beat J W de Jong (Ned, 0.5).