Victory eluded Viswanathan Anand yet again as the world champion played out a draw with Russian Vladimir Kramnik in the eighth and penultimate round of the Tal Memorial Chess Tournament in Moscow.
Looking to control some damage after losing as many as three games in one of the strongest tournaments ever, Anand did everything right and gave no chances to Kramnik who is on an unfamiliar last spot in the tournament he has won before.
With just one round remaining, the draw did not help Anand's cause for a comeback but did not do any further damage either.
Boris Gelfand of Israel remained in front on 5.5 points after an easy draw with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan while world number one Magnus Carlsen scored a regulation victory over erstwhile leader Hikaru Nakamura of United States to jump to sole second spot on five points.
Fabiano Caruana of Italy also improved his chances in the tournament defeating Alexander Morozevich of Russia after the latter panicked out of a drawn situation and the Italian now shares the third spot along side Nakamura, Dmitry Andreikin of Russia and Mamedyarov on 4.5 points apiece.
Russian Sergey Karjakin did not give much leverage to fellow Andreikin and drew comfortably as black to occupy the sole seventh spot on 3.5 points with just a lone game left to play against Anand who stands sole eighth a half point adrift.
Kramnik and Morozevich share the last spot on 2.5 points each. The variation chosen by Anand against the Nimzo Indian defence by Kramnik has not given White good results in the recent past but the Indian ace had some ideas to push for advantage against the Russian.
However, Kramnik was able to complicate things and generate counter play as the game progressed and the players arrived at a double rook endgame in which the Russian was down a pawn for a very brief time and had little troubles in securing the balance.
Carlsen defeated Nakamura in style out of an English opening game as white. The Norwegian got a huge push in the centre with his pawn mass in the middle game and capitalised on it fully to generate a crushing attack.
Nakamura had his back to the wall when he sacrificed a rook for a minor piece to stay in the game but Carlsen's technique was perfect to see him through with another win.
Gelfand, meanwhile, played it safe as white against Mamedyarov while Caruana scored over Morozevich when the latter ran short of time in a complicated position.
As the post game analysis proved, the Italian could at best have drawn but Morozevich fell under a trap that led to Caruana marching to glory.
Results round 8: V Anand (Ind, 3) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 2.5); Alexander Morozevich (Rus, 2.5) lost to Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 4.5); Boris Gelfand (Isr, 5.5) drew with Shakhriayar Mamedyarov (Aze, 4.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5) beat Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 4.5); Dmitry Andreikin (Rus, 4.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 3.5).