World champion Viswanathan Anand defeated Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine 1.5-0.5 to jump into joint lead after the seventh round of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament in Nice, France on Sunday.
The Indian ace shares the top spot with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia who accounted for overnight leader Levon Aronian of Armenia 1.5-0.5.
Both Anand and Kramnik have identical nine points from 14 games played thus far and are now half point clear of Aronian and Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who scored a 2-0 victory over Chinese Wang Yue.
With four rounds (eight games) remaining, Peter Leko of Hungary is now a distant fifth on 7.5 points, half point clear of Gata Kamsky of the United States, Alexander Morozevich of Russia and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan stands sole ninth on six points while Ukrainian duo of Vassily Ivanchuk and Karjakin are joint 10th on five points. Yue is at the bottom of the pile with 4.5 points in his bag.
In the blindfold section, Carlsen emerged as the new leader with a tally of 5.5 points. The Norwegian is half point ahead of Kramnik while Anand shares the third spot alongwith Leko on 4.5 points.
Kamsky, who is in tied ninth spot in blindfold, is the surprise leader in rapid section with 5 points. Anand shares
the second spot with Aronian on 4.5 points.
Anand employed the Caro Kann defence against Karjakin that netted him the full point in the blindfold game.
Interestingly, both Karjakin and Anand spent some time studying the line of Advanced Variation of the Caro Kann that they got on the board, but the difference was that the Ukrainian missed a few details that worked to Anand's advantage.
"With the best defence you probably can hold but it's blindfold and your clock is ticking," Anand said after the
As it happened Karjakin erred with white on the 26th turn which cost him a pawn and caused irreparable damage.
The rapid game between the two was a highly complicated one in the Sicilian Najdorf that Karjakin employed as black. The early proceedings looked better for Anand, but it remained unclear whether it was enough to press for a win.
The Ukrainian came under pressure and gave his queen for rook and bishop in the middle game. The game remained tense and after a fierce struggle the result after 61 moves was a draw.
Kramnik and Aronian shared the honours in the blindfold game but the Russian won the rapid to move into joint lead.
"It was not a good game, we both blundered a lot," Kramnik said after the match.
In other matches of the day, Ivanchuk played out two draws with Topalov, Leko drew the blindfold and won the rapid game against Morozevich while Kamsky and Radjabov shared one win each.
Results round 7
Blindfold: Veselin Topalov (Bul) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Alexander Morozevich (Rus) drew with Peter Leko (Hun); Wang Yue (Chn) lost to Magnus Carlsen (Nor); Teimour Radjabov (Aze) bt Gata Kamsky (USA); Sergey Karjakin (Ukr) lost to Viswanathan Anand (Ind); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm).
Rapid: Ivanchuk drew with Topalov; Leko bt Morozevich; Carlsen bt Wang Yue; Kamsky bt Radjabov; Anand drew with Karjakin; Aronian lost to Kramnik.
Combined standings after round 7: 1-2. Anand, Kramnik (9 points each); 3-4. Aronian, Carlsen (8.5); 5. Leko (7.5); 6-8. Kamsky, Morozevich, Topalov (7); 9. Radjabov (6); 10-11. Ivanchuk, Karjakin (5); 12. Wang Yue (4.5).
Blindfold standings: 1. Carlsen (5.5); 2. Kramnik (5); 3-4. Anand, Leko (4.5 each); 5-6. Aronian, Morozevich (4); 7-8. Radjabov, Topalov (3.5); 9-11. Ivanchuk, Kamsky, Wang Yue (2); 12. Karjakin (1.5).
Rapid standings: 1. Kamsky (5); 2-3. Anand, Aronian (4.5 each); 4. Kramnik (4); 5-6. Karjakin, Topalov (3.5); 7-10. Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Leko, Morozevich (3); 11-12. Radjabov, Wang Yue (2.5).