World champion Viswanathan Anand remains a contender for the title despite being 1.5 points behind the leader as he will take on the lowest-ranked players in the remaining two rounds of the Norway Chess 2013 Super Tournament here.
Anand started with two draws and a fine victory against arch-rival Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria.
A loss in the fourth round pulled him back a little but then tormenting tournament leader Sergey Karjakin of Russia and following that up with a crushing win against Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan has put the Indian in the joint third spot.
For the record, Karjakin seems far away from Anand at 5.5 points and he is followed by Magnus Carlsen half a point behind.
Anand stands joint third and the situation might have been different but for a foul mistake as white against Hikaru Nakamura in the fourth round.
With four points the Indian shares the third position along with Levon Aronian of Armenia and these two are a half point clear of nearest rivals Nakamura and Peter Svidler of Russia.
The remaining games against two lowest-ranked players give some hopes for Anand but even 1.5 points should be good enough for a podium finish.
For that, the Indian ace will look forward to beat Jon Ludvig Hammer of Norway in the next round and hope for the best in the last round against Wang Hao of China.
Karjakin has a relatively tough draw as he first meets Svidler and then Topalov to stake his claim for one of the biggest victories in his career.
The Russian had taken off with four wins and his juggernaut was only halted temporarily by Carlsen in the fifth round when the latter scored an impressive victory.
The equation for Carlsen is quite tough too as he first meets Wang Hao as white and then Aronian as black. If Carlsen doesn't win against the Chinese Grandmaster, his chances of catching up with Karjakin are also quite slim.
However, the trend in the super tournaments recently has not been favouring the obvious first-choice of the chess buffs. If that is to continue, one can't rule Anand out even if he is 1.5 points behind Karjakin.
Taking a cue from the last Candidates' tournament from where Carlsen qualified to meet Anand -- both the Norwegian and Russian Vladimir Kramnik were in the lead coming into the final round at London.
And both lost paving the way for Carlsen to be the challenger later this year by virtue of a superior tiebreak.
Anand might be the underdog in the November match for the first time since he won his first world championship but that can be discussed later. For now, two wins is what the Indian ace needs.
Pairings round eight:
V Anand (Ind, 4) v/s Jon Ludvig Hammer (Nor, 1.5); Peter Svidler (Rius, 3.5) v/s Sergey Karjakin (RUs, 5.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5) v/s Wang Hao (Chn, 2.5); Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3) v/s Levon Aronian (Arm, 4); Teimoru Radjabov (Aze, 2.5) v/s Peter Svidler (Rus, 3.5).