Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand played out a draw with Maxime Vachier- Lagrave of France to remain in joint lead after the end of the eighth and penultimate round of Sinquefield Cup, a part of the Grand Chess tour.
Anand played his last white game in the tournament against Vachier-Lagrave and had a small advantage but the Frenchman was quite up to the task in defense and steered the game to a draw.
Besides Anand and Vachier-Lagrave, Levon Aronian of Armenia also ensured he remained in the joint lead on five points after he was held to a draw by Peter Svidler of Russia in a very complicated game.
Sergey Karjakin of Russia was the lone winner of the day after he added to the miseries of Wesley So of United States, while world Champion Magnus Carlsen survived some anxious moments before signing peace with another Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi.
The all-American duel between Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura also ended in a truce that left half the field in with a chance to clinch the title in the final round.
With three leaders on five points, Carlsen and Karjakin, on 4.5 points apiece, are the other two players who can win the last round and be the winner of this fifth edition.
There is a complicated tiebreak in place in case of a tied result at the top to determine the winner in the USD 300000 prize money tournament.
It will be a real showdown in the final round with many interesting pairings lined up. Anand plays with Wesley So, who might be just happy to end this nightmare of a tournament as quickly as possible.
Winner of most of the world elite events last year, the American succumbed to his fourth loss in the tournament when he went down to Karjakin.
All eyes will be on Carlsen when he plays with white against Aronian in a must-win game.
Vachier-Lagrave is the only leader who plays with white pieces in the final round and he has been pitted against Nepomniachtchi. Karjakin meets Nakamura again in a must win situation for the former while Caruana has an inconsequential match lined up against Svidler.
Anand chose the English opening for the second time in the tournament.
Earlier in round five, the opening had served the Indian well against Fabiano Caruana when the American had lost after some mind boggling tactics.
Vachier-Lagrave was happy to get a slightly worse position and defend it rather than going for some active continuation. Anand was better but it was not an easy task to build on the advantage.
The Frenchman equalised after a slightly erroneous 20th move by Anand and the peace was signed 10 moves later.
Results round 8: V Anand (Ind, 5) drew with Maxiem Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 5); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 3) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 4.5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5) drew with Peter Svidler (Rus,3.5); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5) beat Wesley So (Usa, 2.5); Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 4) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 3).
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