World champion Viswanathan Anand played out a draw with Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria to remain in joint-second after end of the eighth round in the Pearl Spring Chess tournament in Nanjing, China, on Thursday.
After surviving a real scare against Norwegian Magnus Carlsen in the seventh round, Anand could do little with his white pieces against Topalov, who appeared well-armed after his first victory in the tournament in the previous round.
The lead positions remained unchanged as the other two games of the day also ended in draws.
Carlsen was troubled for a short time by Chinese hopeful Wang Yue but eventually got a draw, while Etienne Bacrot of France settled for the peace treaty quite early against Vugar Gashimov of Azerbaijan.
With just two rounds to come in the six-player double round-robin tournament, Carlsen retained his lead and barring a debacle, he looks set to annex the title.
The Norwegian took his tally to 5.5 points out of a possible eight to keep Anand and Bacrot at a full point distance. Topalov and Gashimov are on 3.5 points and sharing the fourth spot, while Wang now has 2.5 points in his kitty.
In the remaining two rounds of this 250000 Euros prize-money event, Carlsen has to meet Topalov and Gashimov, while Anand will take on Gashimov and Bacrot.
The Frenchman has Wang apart from the Indian ace and things can heat up if Anand and Bacrot win the next round.
Topalov did not have to do much against a topical Catalan that has become a frequent visitor in top level chess these days. The Bulgarian went for a recently popular sequence of moves and got the dynamic balance he was looking for in the ensuing middle game.
It was on the 15th move that Topalov sacrificed a knight showing precise calculations.
Anand had to except and then took his king for a short walk and gave his extra material back to restore parity.
Topalov again came with an exchange sacrifice and after Anand accepted it, another piece sacrifice followed to force a draw through repetition of moves.
The game lasted 31 moves.
Carlsen employed the Bogo Indian defence as black and held a passive position for sometime in the middle game. However, Wang's slightly worse pawn structure gave the Norwegian a possibility to sacrifice a pawn and he wriggled out of difficulties in quick time.
After a series of exchanges, the players reached a drawn rook and pawns endgame signed peace after 28 moves.
Bacrot went for an early draw against Gashimov from a Slav defence game. The Frenchman repeated the position to split the point in just 14 moves.
Results of Round 8: V Anand (Ind, 4.5) drew with Veselin Topalov (Bul, 3.5); Etienne Bacrot (Fra, 4.5) drew with Vugar Gashimov (Aze, 3.5); Wang Yue (Chn, 2.5) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 5.5).
The moves: Anand-Topalov
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Qc2 b6 9. Rd1 Nbd7 10. Bf4 Ba6 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. Ne5 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Rc8 14. Nc3 Ng4 15. h3 Nxf2 16. Kxf2 Bc5+ 17. Be3 Bxe3+ 18. Kxe3 b5 19. Qd3 Rc4 20. Nxd5 exd5 21. Bxd5 Qg5+ 22. Kf2 Qxe5 23. Bxc4 bxc4 24. Qd6 Qf5+ 25. Ke1 Qxh3 26. Qxa6 Qxg3+ 27. Kd2 Qf4+ 28. Kc2 Qe4+ 29. Kc1 Qe3+ 30. Kb1 Qe4+ 31. Kc1. Game drawn