World champion Viswanathan Anand crushed Vladimir Kramnik in the blindfold section and romped home with a 1.5-0.5 victory in the crucial eighth round of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament, in Nice, France on Monday.
Anand won the blindfold game and surged ahead in this section to share the second spot in this section.
With the rapid game ending in a draw the Indian ace is now in sole lead on 10.5 points.
Levon Aronian of Armenia defeated Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan in the blindfold game and played out a draw in the rapid to win by a similar margin like Anand and so did Magnus Carlsen of Norway in his match against Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
Both Carlsen and Aronain remained on Anand's heels, half point behind, and it might well be a race between these three for the title in the last three rounds.
Kramnik slipped to fourth following the loss with 9.5 points. The fifth place is held by Peter Leko of Hungary on 8.5 points while American Gata Kamsky, Topalov and Alexander Morozevich of Russia are locked on 7.5 points apiece.
Ukrainians Vassily Ivanchuk and Sergey Karjakin and Radjabov share the ninth spot on 6.5 points while Wang Yue of China is now in the cellar with 5.5.
In the blindfold section, Carlsen is in sole lead with 6.5 points followed by Anand a point behind.
In the rapid section, Anand shares the lead with Kamsky and Aronian with 5 points.
The clash of the day between leaders Anand and Kramnik started with an impressive victory for the world champion in the blindfold game.
In their first encounter since their match in Bonn a few months back, Anand played the King pawn allowing his rival to go for his favourite Petroff defence.
"After the 20th move by Kramnik I believe black's position was a bit unpleasant as there was no coordination between his pieces," said Anand, who played white.
He was pleased with his 22nd move and explained that Kramnik had missed his devastating queen manoeuvre when he erred on the 27th. Kramnik's next move was a further oversight, running into the lethal pawn push on the king side resulting in a checkmate web, but at that point black's position was already lost.
In the rapid game also Anand showed excellent opening preparation. He surprised Kramnik with the line he chose and after 15 moves he achieved what most probably he was aiming for. It was an effortless draw with the black pieces.
In other matches of the day, Kamsky drew with Karjakin in blindfold but lost the rapid game, Wang played out two draws with Leko while Ivanchuk improved his standing slightly, beating Morozevich 1.5-0.5.
Results Round 8:
Blindfold: V Anand (Ind) bt Vladimir Kramnik (Rus); Levon Aronian (Arm) bt Teimour Radjabov (Aze); Gata Kamsky (USA) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Ukr); Peter Leko (Hun) drew with Wang Yue (Chn); Magnus Carlsen (Nor) bt Veselin Topalov (Bul); Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr) bt Alexander Morozevich (Rus).
Rapid: Kramnik drew with Anand; Radjabov drew with Aronian; Karjakin bt Kamsky; Wang Yue drew with Leko; Topalov drew with Carlsen; Morozevich drew with Ivanchuk.
Combined standings after Round 8: 1. Anand 10.5; 2-3. Aronian, Carlsen 10 each; 4. Kramnik 9.5; 5. Leko 8.5; 6-8; Kamsky, Topalov, Morozevich 7.5 each; 9-11. Ivanchuk, Karjakin, Radjabov 6.5 each; 12. Yue 5.5.
Blindfold standings: 1. Carlsen 6.5; 2. Anand 5.5; 3-5. Leko, Aronian, Kramnik 5 each; 6. Morozevich 4; 7-8. Topalov, Radjabov 3.5 each; 9. Ivanchuk 3; 10-11. Kamsky, Yue 2.5 each; 12. Karjakin 2.
Rapid standings: 1-3. Anand, Kamsky, Aronian 5 each; 4-5. Kramnik, Karjakin 4.5 each; 6. Topalov 4; 7-10; Leko, Ivanchuk, Carlsen, Morozevich 3.5 each; 11-12. Radjabov, Yue 3 each.