Nice (France):World champion Viswanathan Anand suffered 0.5-1.5 defeat at the hands of leader Levon Aronian of Armenia in the eighth round of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament in France.
Anand managed to draw his rapid game but ended up conceding a point in the blindfold tie, which cost the Indian dear as he slipped to joint fourth spot in the overall standings.
Defeat in the direct encounter against Aronian means the distance between Anand and the tournament leader has widened.
With just three rounds remaining, Aronian is now on 10.5 points, a full point ahead of Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who scored a resounding 2-0 victory over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.
Peter Leko of Hungary accounted for Loek Van Wely of Holland by a 1.5-0.5 margin to jump to the third spot with nine points while Anand, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Alexander Morozevich of Russia are now joint fourth with 8.5 points each.
After the loss, Anand's blindfold standing was worst hit after a smart recovery in previous rounds. The Indian ace now shares the seventh spot in this section with four points. Morozevich is the leader in this section with 5.5 points.
Anand, however, remained on joint second spot with 4.5 points in the rapid section. Aronian has a healthy 1.5 points lead in this section as he has garnered six points so far.
The battle between leader Aronian and Anand started with a spectacular clash in the blindfold game where the former proved superior after taking his chances.
It was a queen's gambit declined wherein Aronian went for a risky venture and was duly rewarded. Anand's 14th move was a mistake in the opinion of Aronian but his exploitation of advantage was certainly not flawless.
Anand, however, missed his chance, lost a pawn and Aronian reached an easy win ending, in which he was an exchange up with little to scare. The game lasted 50 moves.
The return rapid game was a relatively short affair. Aronian chose the Marshall Attack against Anand's Ruy Lopez and made a rather easy draw.
"This is about the best variation there is against the Marshall. White has everything, an extra pawn and he can try for more.
"However, from another perspective it is hard to see how he can make progress and really play for a win," Aronian said after the game was drawn in 29 moves.
In other important games of the day, Topalov defeated Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine by 1.5-0.5 margin after winning the blindfold game.
Russian Vladimir Kramnik played out two draws with Vassily Ivanchuk.