Viswanathan Anand’s failed to change his fortune as the former world champion suffered his third defeat in four games at the London Chess Classic in London.
Anand went down to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France in what was his second straight loss following a defeat against Alexander Grischuk in the previous round.
After the seventh round, the Indian is now struggling with just 2.5 points in his kitty.
With just two more rounds to go, Vachier-Lagrave took the sole lead with his second victory in the tournament.
The day witnessed many interesting games and world champion Magnus Carlsen finally scored a much-needed victory over Hikaru Nakamura of United States, while Levon Aronian of Armenia downed Veselint Topalov of Bulgaria in quick time.
Erstwhile sole leader Anish Giri had to be content with another draw with Fabiano Caruana of United States, while Michael Adams remained impregnable with his defense and signed peace with Alexander Grischuk of Russia.
Vachier-Lagarve took his tally to 4.5 points following a picturesque finish against Anand and he is now trailed by Carlsen, Giri, Grischuk and Aronian who all have four points apiece.
Caruana, Nakamura and Adams share the sixth spot with 3.5 points each, while Anand on 2.5 is on ninth spot, a full point ahead of Topalov, who stands last.
Anand faced an expected Najdorf Sicilian from Vachier-Lagrave and got little in the ensuing middle game. The Frenchman put some pressure and Anand decided to part with his queen for two pieces. There seemed compensation but the resulting defense was never too easy.
Vachier-Lagrave finished the game by spotting an excellent tactic that started with a rook sacrifice.
“I feel like I played quite well today; at the same time I don’t think it should win any beauty prize,” said Vachier-Lagrave adding, “The final combination was nice but there were a lot of mistakes and oversights throughout the game.”
The Frenchman was optimistic and cautious at the same time, “Of course to be leading two games before the end, it’s a good feeling, but the standings are close so I need push again in the last two games to win the event,” he said.
Carlsen won in his typical style — grinding down Nakamura in a long-drawn affair. The opening was not so relevant and when the endgame arrived many predicted a long and tense struggle.
Carlsen was quite happy to find a Bishop sacrifice to rip apart an optical fortress and won with his extra pawns.
In the other decisive game, Aronian chose a dangerous variation and his efforts were suitably rewarded as Topalov failed to find the right defense. The game was over in just 27 moves.
Results round 7: V Anand (Ind, 2.5) lost to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 4.5); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 3.5) drew with Anish Giri (4); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 4) beat Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 3.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 4) beat Veselin Topalov (Bul, 1.5); Michael Adams (Eng, 3.5) drew with
Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 4).