Viswanathan Anand's hunt for an elusive victory continued as the five-time world champion failed to break the solid defences of Wesley So of the USA in the seventh round of the Sinquefield Cup, a part of the Grand Chess tour, here. (Click here for latest Chess stories)
With his fifth draw in last five games, Anand inched a little forward adding another half point, but that did not reflect in the tournament standings as the Indian remained on joint eighth position with just two rounds to go in the USD 300000 prize money competition.
Levon Aronian of Armenia took a giant leap forward in the tournament, demolishing American Hikaru Nakamura to shot into sole lead on five points out of a possible seven.
Aronian benefitted immensely from an inexplicable blunder by World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who ended up on the losing side against Russian Alexander Grischuk.
The other two games of the 10-player round-robin tournament ended in draws with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France signing peace with Fabiano Caruana of United States and Anish Giri of Holland splitting the point with Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
With just two rounds remaining, time seems to be running out for Anand, while Aronian looks on course for his first victory on the tour.
The Armenian is now leading by a full point over Carlsen, Giri, Grischuk and Vachier-Lagrave who all have four points apiece. Topalov and Nakamura share the sixth spot on 3.5 points, a full point ahead of Caruana and Anand, while Wesley So is still at the bottom with two points in his kitty.
Anand played the Ruy Lopez as white and faced the Berlin defense from Wesley So, who put the Indian in some sorts of trouble in early middle game. Anand gave up a pawn and when the pressure increased came up with a fine queen sacrifice for two pieces to keep himself in the game. In the end, it was an impregnable fortress by the Indian.
Aronian completed his American whitewash after beating Nakamura. Having earlier defeated Wesley So and Caruana, this was the last local star remaining and Aronian was pretty pleased with the way things turned out.
Nakamura lost his way early with white pieces after trading the queens and his weakened king side pawns were easy pickings for the Armenian. The game lasted 51 moves.
The other decisive game of the day was a shocker for Carlsen. After attaining a level position the world champion pushed hard for a victory and found himself in a difficult endgame a pawn less. Things however were not out of hand but post the sixth hour, Carlsen lost concentration and allowed Grischuk to win with a picturesque finale.
Results round 7: Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3.5) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 4); V Anand (Ind 2.5) drew with Wesley So (USA, 2); Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 3.5) lost to Levon Aronian (Arm, 5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 4) lost to Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 4); Fabiano Caruana (USA, 2.5) drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 4).