World Champion Viswanathan Anand played his fourth draw on the trot,sharing points with tournament leader Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine to slip to fourth spot after the eighth round of the fourth Final Masters chess tournament.
The draw with black pieces came easy in the return game and Ivanchuk completed a 1.5-0.5 victory over Anand in the two games played here. The Ukrainian had beaten Anand in the third round which was held at Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Meanwhile,World number one Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Hikaru Nakamura of United States closed in on the leader with fine victories in the eighth round games. Magnus played determinedly to beat Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain while Nakamura showcased his endgame skills to beat Levon Aronian of Armenia.
Ahead of the final rest day,Ivanchuk remained in sole lead on 14 points in the soccer-like scoring system while Nakamura and Carlsen are now two points behind the leader. With just two rounds to come,Anand is on nine points,half a point ahead of Aronian. Pons remains at the bottom of the tables on seven points.
Anand employed the Queens Indian defense to counter Ivanchuks queen pawn opening. The Ukrainian managed to get some complications on board in the middle game but after the centre was opened,Anand exchanged pieces at will to reach a level knights and pawns endgame. In the end,both players had two passed pawns and making progress was not possible. The game was drawn in 58 moves.
Carlsen faced the Slav defense against Pons who played black. The Spaniard equalised early in the opening but fell prey to some wily manoeuvres after the queens got traded. Carlsen won a piece for two pawns and the resulting endgame was easy for Carlsen.
Nakamura was at his best in the Queen’s gambit declined employed by Aronian. The American got a better middle game and squeezed out blacks defensive resources to reach a better endgame. Aronian tried hard to make a match of it but an error led to Nakamura wrapping the issue in 79 moves.