World Champion Viswanathan Anand's hunt for the elusive victory continued as he was held to a draw by former European champion Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia in the third round of the Tal Memorial Chess Tournament.
Anand yet again could not get much with his white pieces despite going for a complex variation and it all came easy for Nepomniachtchi in the first game to end on what was a day for black pieces here.
The first two rounds had produced just three decisive games and the third round produced as many in a single day. Incidentally, all the victories came with black pieces and in the other game too Norwegian world number one Magnus Carlsen came close to beating Russia's Vladimir Kramnik who played with white.
Levon Aronian won a fine game against Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine while Peter Svidler grounded the hopes of American Hikaru Nakamura. World Championship challenger Boris Gelfand found the going tough for the second day running as he was outplayed by Ukrainian turned Russian Sergey Karjakin.
As a result, Carlsen, Aronian, Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi emerged as joint leaders on two points each while Anand, Svidler and Ivanchuk are close behind on 1.5 points apiece.
Kramnik and Nakamura share the eighth spot on one point while Gelfand is at the bottom of the table with just a half point in his kitty.
Playing white, Anand faced the Grunfeld defense from Nepomniachtchi that the Indian has himself employed as black many times.Â
The middle game saw the Russian finding right moves to equalise and the exchange of pieces at regular intervals also did not help Anand's cause.
Pretty early in the middle game as many as three minor pieces and three pawns changed hands and Nepomniachtchi had a perpetual check on board to end it up very fast. The game was agreed drawn in a mere 27 moves.
Carlsen played an enterprising game after what looked like a very difficult position out of an English opening.
Kramnik pushed for an attack on both flanks and in the end stood worse after a neat defense by Carlsen who later missed the thread and settled for a draw in 41 moves.
Svidler's Grunfeld came good against Nakamura who could not find the best continuation after the former sacrificed an exchange. Svidler wrapped the issue in style after winning two white pawns.
Aronian won a difficult game against Ivanchuk out of a Berlin defense game while Karjakin outplayed Gelfand from a level position arising out a Catalan opening.
Results round 3: V Anand (Ind, 1.5) drew with Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 2); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 1) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2); Boris Gelfand (0.5) lost to Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 2); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 1) lost to Peter Svidler (Rus, 1.5); Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 1.5) lost to Levon Aronian (Arm, 2).