Viswanathan Anand pressed hard but Italian-turned-American Fabiano Caruana put up stiff resistance to steer the game to a draw in the third round of the Candidates Chess tournament.
With his second draw on the trot following a victory over Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the first round, Anand took his tally to two points out of a possible three and is assured to be in joint lead as his co-leader Sergey Karjakin of Russia also played out with a draw with Dutchman Anish Giri.
Levon Aronian of Armenia emerged as the third co-leader on two points out of a possible three defeating an out-of-sort Topalov with black pieces.
The wins with black pieces count a lot in these super tournaments and Aronian - a wild card entrant seems to have justified his picking following a very easy win.
Anand, Karjakin and Aronian have all got two points out of three rounds now while Giri and Caruana have 1.5 points apiece with eleven rounds still to come in this super extravaganza for chess buffs.
The other third round game between Peter Svidler of Russia and people's favourite HIkaru Nakamura of United States is still in progress at the time of going to press wherein the Russian is pressing for an advantage.
Anand faced yet another Berlin defense and once again employed the same move order he had used against Topalov in the first round. Caruana was obviously prepared but his preparation only yielded a slightly worse position out of the opening and Anand exerted pressure raising hopes of his fans.
While the position favoured Anand optically there was no clear path to success as Caruana weakened white's king side after a temporary pawn sacrifice. What followed was a series of exchanges leading to a level rook and pawns endgame where the draw was a just result.
Aronian justified his picking on organiser's ticket as he tackled Topalov move for move in a Queen pawn game as black. Trying to force complications at all costs, Topalov sacrificed two pawns in the early middle game but his attacking bid never really materialise. Aronian was spot in first finding the right defence and then launched his own attack to force matters.
Karjakinfaced the Queens Indian defence as white against Giri and grabbed a pawn in the early middle game. However, soon after the Russian went for a piece sacrifice resulting ina draw by repetition.
Svidler enjoys an extra pawn against Nakamura in an endgame that can be drawn. However the Russian was seen pressing hard for a win at the time of going to press.
Results round 3: Veselin Topalov (Bul, 0.5) lost to Levon Aronian (Arm, 2); V Anand (Ind, 2) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 1.5); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 2) drew with Anish Giri (Ned, 1.5); Peter Svidler (Rus, 1) playing Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 0.5).
Feature image source: AFP