World champion Viswanathan Anand played out a draw with Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine to maintain his sole lead after the end of the Morelia stint of the Morelia-Linares chess tournament in Mexico on Sunday.
The Indian ace played it safe with white after Ivanchuk carried out a fine counter play in the middle game and even though the other three games ended decisively, it did not hamper Anand's status as the sole leader as nearest rival Levon Aronian of Armenia was outdone by Magnus Carlsen of Norway in a classic.
On a day when former World champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria made most of the opportunities against a luck-less Peter Leko of Hungary, Latvian-born Spaniard Alexei Shirov also played imaginatively to beat Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan.
At the half way stage in the category-21 event among eight players, Anand had 4.5 points to his credit and was followed by Topalov and Shirov a half point behind.
Another half point adrift were Carlsen and Aronian with 3.5 points each while Radjabov and Ivanchuk were now joint fifth on three points apiece. With just 2.5 points in his kitty, Leko was at the bottom of the tables.
The remaining seven rounds of the event will be played at Linares in Spain from February 28.
Anand faced the Sicilian defense from Ivanchuk who opted for a Scheveningen set up. In the middle game, Anand rolled his king side pawns for a probable attack but the Ukrainian kept himself in contention with some timely manoeuvres leading to exchanges.