World champion Viswanathan Anand thumped Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine in the blindfold and won his sixth round game 1.5-0.5 in the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess tournament in Nice.
Past the half-way stage in this 11-round event that has one rapid and one blindfold game in each round, the Indian ace now occupies sole second spot and also bridged the gap between him and the leader Levon Aronian of Armenia who played out draws with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan in both the games.
It is still a tight affair and there is no clear winner in sight. With five rounds still to go, Aronian is at the top of the combined points table on 7.5 while Anand is now close behind with seven points in his kitty.
Five players are just half a point adrift of Anand at joint third. They are Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, Peter Leko of Hungary, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine and Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
Anand misread an opening move in the blindfold game but thankfully there was no damage. The Indian ace mistakenly believed that Karjakin had moved his knight on the queen side when in fact it was on the king side and upon realising his mistake Anand was quick to recover.
Despite the mistake, by the 23rd move the writing was on the wall when Anand played a crushing rook move to tighten the noose around his opponent.
In the rapid game there was little for Karjakin as Anand yet again was on top from the beginning. However, it was not as bad as in the blindfold and somehow the Ukrainian youngster was able to maintain the balance. The game was eventually drawn.
The blindfold game between Carlsen and Topalov may go down in Amber history as the 'Great Escape'. The Bulgarian played another Caro-Kann and though he was doing fine, Carlsen missed a dangerous attack in the middle game. Topalov reached a winning position only to see Carlsen begin his survival act.
Topalov had eight minutes on his clock and the young Norwegian was down to seconds, but that didn't stop him from tricking his opponent. The game was eventually drawn.
Topalov's misery continued in the rapid game as he failed to finish off from a winning position again. Carlsen defended with great tenacity and earned a draw when the position was repeated three times on 69th move.
Round 6 Results:
Sergey Karjakin (Ukr) lost to Viswanathan Anand (Ind); Levon Aronian (Arm) drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze); Magnus Carlsen (Nor) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul); Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr) drew with Peter Leko (Hun); Loek Van Wely (Ned) lost to Alexander Morozevich (Rus); Boris Gelfand (Isr) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Rus).
Anand drew with Karjakin; Mamedyarov drew with Aronian; Topalov dew with Carlsen; Leko drew with Ivanchuk; Morozevich drew with Van Wely; Kramnik drew with Gelfand.
Combined Standings After Round 6: 1. Aronian 7.5; 2. Anand 7.0; 3-7: Topalov, Leko, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Carlsen 6.5; 8-9: Morozevich, Karjakin 5.5; 10. Mamedyarov 5.0; 11-12: Gelfand, Van Wely 4.5.
Blindfold Standings: 1-2: Morozevich, Carlsen 4.0; 3-5: Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Topalov 3.5; 6-8: Leko, Anand, Aronian 3.0; 9-10: Karjakin, Van Wely 2.5; 11. Mamedyarov 2.0; 12. Gelfand 1.5.
Rapid Standings: 1. Aronian 4.5; 2. Anand 4.0; 3. Leko 3.5; 4-9: Gelfand, Mamedyarov, Ivanchuk, Kramnik, Topalov, Karjakin 3.0; 10. Carlsen 2.5; 11. Van Wely 2.0; 12. Morozevich, 1.5.
The moves -- Sergey Karjakin vs Viswanathan Anand
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3 Be6 8. Ng5 Nc6 9. Nxe6 fxe6 10. Bc4 Qd7 11. a4 Be7 12. O-O Rc8 13. Qe2 O-O 14. Rad1 Bd8 15. f4 exf4 16. Bxf4 Bb6 17. Kh1 Bd4 18. Bb3 Kh8 19. h3 Be5 20. Bxe5 Nxe5 21. Rd4 Qe7 22. Rfd1 Nfg4 23. Kg1 Rf2 24. Qxf2 Nxf2 25. Kxf2 Rd8 26. Kg1 g5 27. Ne2 g4 28. hxg4 Nxg4 29. e5 Qh4 white resigned.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Nb8 10. d4 Nbd7 11. Nbd2 Bb7 12. Bc2 Re8 13. Nf1 Bf8 14. Ng3 c6 15. b3 Qc7 16. Bb2 g6 17. c4 bxc4 18. bxc4 exd4 19. Bxd4 a5 20. Rb1 Bg7 21. Qd2 Ba6 22. Bd3 Nc5 23. Bxc5 dxc5 24. e5 Nd7 25. e6 fxe6 26. Qe3 Rad8 27. Ne4 Ne5 28. Nxe5 Qxe5 29. Rb6 Bc8 30. Rxc6 Bb7 31. Rxc5 Qd4 32. Qxd4 Rxd4 33. Rc7 Ba8 34. Bc2 Rb8 35. g3 a4 36. a3 Be5 37. Rc5 Bg7 38. Kf1 Bf8 39. Rc7 Bxe4 40. Rxe4 Rxe4 41. Bxe4 Bxa3 42. Ra7 game drawn.