Victory eluded world champion Viswanathan Anand yet again as he played out a fourth draw in five games, against Boris Gelfand of Israel, and remained at the bottom after the fifth and penultimate round of the Zurich Chess Challenge.
Following a shock defeat in the previous round against Fabiano Caruana of Italy, Anand looked for sharp play against Gelfand but his efforts did not yield the desirable result as the Israeli first pressed for an advantage and had little problems in holding out a draw in the end.
Meanwhile, leader Caruana yet again played exciting chess before settling for a draw with Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. (File photo of Anand and Gelfand in an earlier tournament).
With just one round to come, the Italian remained at the top on three points in this four-player double round-robin tournament and he continued to be followed by Kramnik and Gelfand a half point behind. Anand on two points stands last in the tournament.
Playing the black side of a Catalan, Anand went for early complications but found one of his pawns en prise.
"It's a pity when everything has to be defended tactically, its much nicer when the position holds itself, I think black was quite shaky," Anand said.
Instead of going for the pawn which would have netted him a safer advantage, Gelfand came up with an exchange sacrifice and conceded that he had missed something in his calculations.
White still had something to play for but Anand was in control too and after trading of some pieces it was clear that the game would end in a draw. The peace was signed after 40 moves.
After employing the Benoni defense as black against Caruana in one of the earlier rounds successfully, Kramnik probably figured that he would do much better in the structure if he had an extra move.
Playing white, the Russian went for the reverse Benoni but was in for a surprise as Caruana came up with some excellent counter attack.
The Italian sacrificed a rook for a minor pieces and two pawns to push Kramnik back, and slowly starting outplaying the Russian.
Things started to look bleak for Kramnik but in the end he came up with a master stroke - a rook sacrifice that was a difficult find for the human eye.
For Caruana, taking it meant allowing unusual perpetual checks, and he felt it was too risky to play for a win any longer. The game lasted 49 moves.
Results round 5: Boris Gelfand (Isr, 2.5) drew with V Anand (Ind, 1.5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 2.5) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 3).