Victory continued to elude World Champion Viswanathan Anand [ Images ] as he settled for his eighth successive draw, signing peace with Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine in the eighth round in Wijk Aan Zee, The Netherlands on Monday.
Initially Anand had a slight edge with his white pieces against the Sicilian Accelerated Dragon by Ivanchuk but maintaining that solid position proved quite tough and the Indian ace agreed for a draw in just 25 moves.
With just five rounds to come, Anand stands at a disappointing ninth spot but things can improve if he can win a few games from here on end.
"Somehow, Vassily found a solid position and I failed to make any progress," Anand admitted candidly.
Meanwhile, at the top of the tables, Alexei Shirov maintained his slender half-point lead after settling for a draw with World No 1 Magnus Carlsen [ Images ] of Norway.
Shirov took his tally to six points out of a possible eight and remained half-point clear of Carlsen and Russian Vladimir Kramnik [ Images ] who defeated Hikaru Nakamura of the US.
Nakamura slipped to sole fourth from joint second on 5 points and he is a half point ahead of defending champion Sergey Karjakin of Ukriane, Lenier Dominguez of Cuba, Hungarian Peter Leko and Ivanchuk who all have 4.5 points apiece.
It turned out to be an average day for the entire Indian contingent as P Harikrishna misplayed a clear better endgame and drew with Dutch GM Erwin l'Ami in the B group.
Playing the black side of a Catalan, Harikrishna outplayed l'Ami in the middle game to reach an exchange up endgame but his technique did not come good for once when it mattered.
It was a marathon battle of nerves that lasted 127 moves.
Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi did reasonably well to hold higher rated Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu of Romania to a fairly quick draw from a Sicilian Najdorf game where the former played black.
The 15-year old Dutch Anish Giri continued to hog the limelight here after winning against David Howell of England [ Images ].
Anish moved to 6.5 points and now enjoys a huge 1.5 points lead over Ni Hua of China, Wesley So of Philippines and l'Ami. Harikrishna shares the fifth spot on 4.5 points while Parimarjan is on 8th place with four points.
In group C, 2008 world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta pressed hard for a victory against top seeded LI Chao of China but the latter held on to his own to force the drawn result in the second longest game of the day. Abhijeet finally converted to a level queen endgame and the peace was signed after 101 moves.
World junior girls' champion Soumya Swaminathan came up with a much improved performance to hold tournament leader Ray Robson of US.
Despite the draw, Robson remained in sole lead with six points out of a possible eight and he is still followed by Abhijeet and Chao on 5.5 points apiece.
Soumya still shares the last spot here with 1.5 points from her eight games.
Results round 8:
Viswanathan Anand (Ind, 4) drew with Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr, 4.5); Alexei Shirov (Esp, 6) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5.5); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5.5) beat Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 5); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5) beat Nigel Short (Eng, 2.5); Leinier Dominguez (Cub, 4.5) drew with Loek van Wely (Ned, 2); Peter Leko (Hun, 4.5) beat Jan Smeets (Ned, 1); Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 3.5) beat Sergey Tiviakov (Ned, 2.5).
Erwin l'Ami (Ned, 5) drew with P Harikrishna (Ind, 4.5); Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (Rom, 3) drew with Parimarjan Negi (Ind, 4); Dimitri Reinderman (Ned, 2.5) beat Varuzhan Akobian (USA, 2); Ni Hua (Chn, 5) drew with Wesley So (Chn, 5); Emil Sutovsky (Isr, 3.5) drew with Arkadij Naiditsch (Ger, 4.5); Tomi Nyback (Fin, 3) drew with Anna Muzychuk (Slo, 2.5); Anish Giri (Ned, 6.5) beat David Howell (Eng, 4.5).
Soumya Swaminathan (Ind, 1.5) drew with Kjetil Lie (Nor, 4); Nils Grandelius (Swe, 4.5) beat Robin van Kampen (Ned, 4); Abhijeet Gupta (Ind, 5.5) drew with Li Chao (Chn, 5.5); Ray Robson (USA, 6) drew with Sjoerd Plukkel (Ned, 1.5); Robin Swinkels (Ned, 5) drew with Daniele Vocaturo (Ita, 5); Mariya Muzychuk (Ukr, 3) drew with Benjamin Bok (Ned, 2.5); Stefan Kuipers (Ned, 3.5) lost to Peng Zhaoqin (Ned, 4.5).