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World champion Viswanathan Anand [Images] played out two draws with Bulgarian world number one Veselin Topalov in the ninth round to surrender his sole lead in the Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament in Nice on Wednesday.
Magnus Carlsen [Images] of Norway and Levon Aronian of Armenia caught the Indian in lead with an identical 1.5-0.5 victories over Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine and Alexander Morozevich of Russia [Images] respectively.
With just two rounds to come in the strongest ever Amber tournament, the leaders have 11.5 points each and they have a comfortable 1.5 points lead over Russian Vladimir Kramnik [Images], who found his nemesis in Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk.
The lead for the three leaders is a clear indication that only these three will be fighting for supremacy now.
The encounter between Topalov and Anand was closely followed by everyone as they are not only top players in the world rankings but will also face each other in the World Championship match next year.
The blindfold game was a sharp and interesting fight in the Caro Kann defense, but it was also far from flawless. In the opening Topalov mixed up moves with white pieces and ended in difficulties.
Topalov, after the game, said "I missed every second move" to which Anand quipped "I missed the odd ones."
The rapid game was also a draw, but this time their moves caused little excitement.
In a side variation of the Ruy Lopez, the pieces changed hands in a heap and after 17 moves, when there was little left to play for, the players shook hands.
Hungarian Peter Leko is lying sole fifth on 9.5 points, a full point clear of Topalov and Gata Kamsky of United States while Ivanchuk and Morozevich share the 8th spot on 8 points apiece.
Azerbaijani Teimour Radjabov is in 10th spot on 7.5 points and a half point adrift of him is Karjakin. Wang Yue of China is at the bottom of the tables with 6.5 points.
Carlsen also surged ahead in the blindfold standings and it seems that the teenager is set to attest his supremacy in this section. With seven points out of a possible nine, Carlsen retained his full point lead here over Anand.
Karjakin was disappointed at not winning a won position against Carlsen in the blindfold and his rapid form suffered a setback as he was gradually outplayed.
Aronian won the battle of creativity in the rapid as well where he outplayed Morozevich.
In other matches of the day, Kamsky played out two draws with Wang Yue while Leko achieved the same result against Radjabov.
Results - Round 9
(Blindfold): Veselin Topalov (Bul) drew with V Anand (Ind); Wang Yue (Chn) drew with Gata Kamsky (USA); Alexander Morozevich (Rus) drew with Levon Aronian (Arm); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) lost to Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Peter Leko (Hun) drew with Teimour Radjabov (Aze); Sergey Karjakin (Ukr) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor).
(Rapid): Anand drew with Topalov; Kamsky drew with Yue; Aronian beat Morozevich; Ivanchuk drew with Kramnik; Radjabov drew with Leko; Carlsen beat Karjakin.
Combined standings after Round 9: 1-3. Anand, Aronian, Carlsen 11.5 each; 4. Kramnik 10; 5. Leko 9.5; 6-7; Kamsky, Topalov 8.5 each; 8-9. Ivanchuk, Morozevich 8 each; 10. Radjabov 7.5 each; 11. Karjakin 7; 12. Yue 6.5.
Blindfold Standings: 1. Carlsen 7; 2. Anand 6; 3-4. Leko, Aronian, 5.5 each; 5. Kramnik 5; 6. Morozevich 4.5; 7-9. Topalov, Radjabov, Ivanchuk 4 each; 10-11. Kamsky, Yue 3 each; 12. Karjakin 2.5.
Rapid standings: 1. Aronian 6; 2-3. Anand, Kamsky 5.5 each; 4. Kramnik 5; 5-7. Karjakin, Topalov, Carlsen 4.5 each; 8-9; Leko, Ivanchuk 4 each; 10-12. Morozevich, Radjabov, Yue 3.5 each.
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