World champion Viswanathan Anand settled for a draw with Russian Alexander Grischuk in the 13th and penultimate round of Magistral Ciudad de Linares chess tournament in Linares on Saturday.
Anand will meet Carlsen in the last round and the only way he can finish tied first is if he wins and both Grischuk and Ivanchuk lose the final round game a highly unlikely scenario given the form of both the players.
Anand employed the Sicilian Najdorf, an opening that has been a major discussion amongst top players for decades, and went for the sharp Poisoned pawn variation.
Grischuk showed that he had a new idea up his sleeves when he played his 20th move and Anand was forced to go to the defense with his king side coming under pressure.
The world champion warded off white's threats with an exchange sacrifice that gave compensation but the position remained risky for a long time with all white's pieces trained to go for the kill on black's king.
A minor inaccuracy by Grischuk on move 29th enthused life back in Anand's position according to the experts and the Indian came back strongly after another mistake by the Russian to force an equal position.
The game was drawn after 33 moves.
Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine rose to the occasion and defeated Levon Aronian of Armenia to joint Grischuk in lead on 7.5 points out of a possible 13.
Norwegian super talent Magnus Carlsen missed a winning opportunity to join the leaders after he mishandled a won endgame against Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan and now stands sole third on seven points while Anand is now clear fourth a half point behind.
Radjabov, Aronian and Wang Yue of China share the fifth on six points each while Lenier Dominguez of Cuba remained at the last position with 5.5 points in his bag.
With just one round to come, Ivanchuk will have black pieces against Dominguez while Grischuk will also play black against Aronian.
Ivanchuk played a remarkable game to beat Aronian in an Anti-Meran opening where the former played white. Aronian gave a pawn to open lines but his scheme backfired as his king came under attack. Ivanchuk won a piece before forcing resignation.
Magnus Carlsen was unlucky not to convert a winning endgame against Radjabov. It was Rosslimo attack wherein Carlsen sacrificed two pawns on the queen side to gain initiative and won a rook for Bishop with precise technique.
Soon an endgame arrived where Carlsen just needed to play correctly on the 47th move but instead the Norwegian fell for the final trick and Radjabov steered the game to a draw in 53 moves.
The other game of the day between Wang Yue and Dominguez was also drawn afteran intense battle.