Five-time World champion Viswanathan Anand of India played out his third draw on the trot as he signed peace with Etienne Bacrot of France in the third round of Grenke Chess Classic in Baden-Baden.
After missing out on what should have been a full point in the previous round against Arkadij Naiditsch of Germany, Anand played it safe with black by going for the Berlin defense and did not have to exert himself with black against Bacrot, who also appeared satisfied with a draw.
Naiditsch, however, went on to record the biggest upset in the tournament by defeating World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in a keenly contested game. The German moved to joint lead along with Fabiano Caruana of Italy, who accounted for an out-of-sort Levon Aronian of Armenia.
The other game of the eight-player round-robin tournament also ended decisively with Michael Adams of England scoring his first victory at the expense of German Grandmaster David Baramidze.
Naiditsch and Caruana took their tally to two points out of a possible three and are followed by Anand, Barot, Carlsen and Adams on 1.5 points each. Aronian and Baramidze have an identical one point in their kitty with four rounds still remaining in the second super tournament of the year.
The Berlin defense has gained the reputation of being one of the most solid openings in elite chess circles and it was not a surprise when Anand chose it against Bacrot -- once the youngest Grandmaster in the world.
It was a long theoretical variation, one that Bacrot had himself employed with black against Russian Alexander Motylev in 2014. The French Grandmaster was the first to deviate from his own game on move 23 when he moved is knight forward and Anand had to find some nice tricks over the board to keep the position level.
However, just two moves later Bacrot thought for around 50 minutes and concluded that there were no winning tries left. Even as Anand had to work for it, the result of the game was not in doubt from this moment. The players shook hands on move 37.
Carlsen was subdued after throwing caution to the winds. The Norwegian came up with a spectacular piece sacrifice out of an irregular opening with black and had two pawns and some compensation in return. It was an epic battle thereon as Naiditsch reached a complex endgame with his extra piece and Carlsen lost control to allow the last white pawn to march to glory. The game lasted 61 moves.
Caruana capitalised on an early middle game error by Aronian to score his first victory. The Armenian looked a pale shadow of himself and missed some routine tactics in this one-sided affair.
In the other game of the day, Michael Adams spotted a brilliant tactic to get the better of Baramidze. The German failed to spot a hidden trick in what looked like a harmless position and Adams did not disappoint his fans.
In the next round after the lone rest day, Anand and Carlsen clash for the first time since the last world championship match in Sochi. Anand will have the advantage of white pieces.
Results of round 3:
Etienne Bacrot (FRA, 1.5) drew with V Anand (IND, 1.5); Levon Aronian (ARM, 1) lost to Fabiano Caruana (ITA, 2); Arkadij Naiditsch (GER, 2) beat Magnus Carlsen (NOR, 1.5); Michael Adams (ENG, 1.5) beat David Baramidze (GER, 1).
Image: Viswanathan Anand.
Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images