Former world champion Viswanathan Anand did not have a change in fortunes as he played out his sixth draw in a row, signing peace with tournament leader Levon Aronian of Armenia in the eighth and penultimate round of the Sinquefield Cup chess meet.
Having lost two and drawn six, Anand is certain to lose some rating points even if he wins his last round game against reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
A victory however, will give the Indian ace a much needed boost as his standing in the tournament as well as in the tour will get better.
For the first time, the round did not produce a single decisive games with all games ending peacefully. Carlsen was the closest to victory against American Hikaru Nakamura but the Norwegian has been struggling with his form tremendously in the last few games. It was a major slip that saw Nakamura survive a near-hopeless position.
With just one round remaining in the super tournament, Aronian is sitting pretty eying his first major title this year. The Armenian with 5.5 points, enjoys a full point lead over nearest rivals Anish Giri of Holland, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France, Alexander Grischuk of Russia and Carlsen who all have 4.5 points apiece.
Nakamura and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria share the sixth spot on four points each, a point ahead of Fabiano Caruana of United States and Anand who have three points in their kitty. Wesley So, with 2.5 points is at the bottom of the tables.
In the second half, Anand's most difficult game was supposedly against in-form Aronian but it turned out to be an easy game in the end. Playing the black side of an English opening Anand faced little difficulty once Aronian made an erroneous 16th move when a pawn capture by the queen might have given a tangible advantage.
As it turned out, Anand quickly neutralised, exchanging a queens and reaching an endgame where there was minimal pressure but the Indian had an extra pawn to boast off. Aronian decided against further risks and repeated, reaching a draw in 31 moves.
Carlsen was unlucky not to go closer to Aronian. Former world champion Garry Kasparov spent a lot of time in the venue today and he disclosed he had analysed the middle game of Carlsen's game with the Norwegian when he was training him some years back.
For the records, it was a Queen's gambit declined wherein Nakamura lost two Bishops for a rook and a pawn. However, Carlsen's technique did not stand by him in this round as he allowed the American to build a fortress of sorts. The marathon lasted 95 moves.
In other games of the day, Grischuk played out a draw with Vachier-Lagrave wherein the Russian fought for an advantage.
Giri's defence in the pawn-less rook endgame was impeccable and he thwarted Caruana's attempt. After winning the first game, this was Giri's seventh draw in a row. Wesley So shared the point with Topalov with the latter playing some rock-solid chess.
Results round 8: Levon Aronian (Arm, 5.5) drew with V Anand (Ind, 3); Wesley So (Usa, 2.5) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul, 4); Anish Giri (Ned, 4.5) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 3); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 4.5) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 4) Alexander Grischuk (Rus, 4.5) drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 4.5).