Sinquefield Cup: Draw keeps Anand in joint lead

Viswanathan Anand drew his game with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in the penultimate round.

Viswanathan Anand now has five points alongside two others.

With all the leading players involved in drawn games in the eighth round, Viswanathan Anand, Levon Aronian and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave retained their overnight half-point lead in the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament here.

In the penultimate round on Thursday, Anand and Lagrave drew their battle in English Opening in 30 moves after Aronian signed peace with Peter Svidler in just 19 moves. The leaders were at five points. In the day’s only decisive game, Sergey Karjakin beat an off-form defending champion Wesley So in 63 moves and joined Magnus Carlsen in the joint fourth spot at 4.5 points.

Anand’s attempt to surprise Lagrave with a new opening did not bring the desired outcome. Following a series of exchanges, draw was agreed when the players had a symmetrical four-pawn structure on the kingside, two pawns on the queenside besides their dark-squared bishops.

Aronian pressed for initiative against Svidler but soon settled for a draw following repetition of moves.

The results

Eighth round: Viswanathan Anand (5) drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 5); Levon Aronian (Arm, 5) drew with Peter Svidler (Rus, 3.5); Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 3) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 4.5); Fabiano Caruana (USA, 4) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 3); Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 4.5) bt Wesley So (USA, 2.5).

Final-round pairings: So-Anand; Carlsen-Aronian; Lagrave-Nepomniachtchi; Nakamura-Karjakin; Svidler-Caruana.