World champion Viswanathan Anand struck form in the rapid game to beat Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk 1.5-0.5 in the fifth round of the Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament in Nice on Friday.
Anand slipped a bit in the blindfold game after getting a few chances but came back strongly to stir tactical complications in the return game and post victory.
Levon Aronian of Armenia joined Russian Vladimir Kramnik in the lead on 6.5 points in the combined standings, a half point ahead of Russian Alexander Morozevich, who now stands sole third.
Anand elevated himself to joint fourth spot after beating Ivanchuk and the Indian ace now shares this spot with former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
Magnus Carlsen of Norway shares the sixth spot with Gata Kamsky of United States and Teimour Radjkabov of Azerbaijan on 5 points apiece and a half point adrift of this group is Hungarian Peter Leko.
Ukrainian Karjakin stands sole 10th on 4 points, Ivanchuk lies 11th on 3.5 while Wang Yue of China is last in standings on 3 points.
Six rounds still remain in the unique event that features one blindfold and one rapid game in each round.
The blindfold games of the day were quite hard-fought but failed to provide many decisive games. Only Morozevich was able to force matter against Karjakin and his victory also came with black pieces.
On the contrary, the rapid games were exact reversek, giving the spectators as many as five decisive games out of a possible six. The lone draw here was played out by Kramnik against Topalov.
Anand employed the Caro Kann defense as black in the blindfold game and faced the main line from Ivanchuk. The Indian felt that White's 18.g3 was a mistake as it allowed him to break through and conquer the central square.
Black got the better game, but failed to make the most out of his advantage and when Ivanchuk proposed a draw after 28 moves Anand no longer had a reason to decline.
The rapid game was tense and exciting. This time a French main line appeared on the board. In a balanced middle game, Anand managed to eke something out of very little and after the game he was pleased with his 34th move that stirred up dizzying tactical complications.
Ivanchuk's first reactions were fine, but when he missed the possibility of improving his position on the 43rd move Anand got the opportunity to decide the game in his favour.
There are no customary handshakes between Kramnik and Topalov and this time was no different either. Their feud since the World championship match a couple of years back when Topalov's team accused Kramnik of cheating doesn't seem to die with time. The games were tense and apparently both were happy with draws.
Aronian won at the expense of Carlsen who blundered his chances. After a draw in the blindfold the rapid game was easily the most dramatic clash of the day.
With strong play in the opening, Carlsen obtained a winning position, but after 98 moves an astonishing turn-around forced him to resign.
As Aronian summed up the game: "In a slightly worse Position I blundered a pawn and then next I blundered an exchange. Which was bad, but in fact it was good, as I got practical chances. I am proud that I didn't resign myself to a defeat, but that I fought."
Results round 5 blindfold: Peter Leko (Hun) drew with Gata Kamsky (Usa); Levon Aronian (Arm) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Veselin Topalov (Bul) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (RUs); Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) drew with Viswanathan Anand (Ind); Sergey Karjakin (Ukr) lost to Alexander Morozevich (Rus); Wang Yue (Chn) drew with Teimour Radjabov (Aze).
Results rapid: Kamsky beat Leko; Carlsen lost to Aronian; Kramnik drew with Toaplov; Anand beat Ivanchuk; Morozevich lost to Karjakin; Radjabov lost to Wang Yue.