World rapid champion Viswanathan Anand was held to a draw by rising Chinese star Ding Liren in the third round of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament on Thursday. With the invincible tag around him these days, Ding Liren did not face any real danger from Anand, who has 1.5 points in all.
The Chinese has not lost a game in classical chess since August 2017 and even though Anand had a new idea and some semblance of an advantage in the closed Ruy Lopez opening, Liren was able to neutralise that.
It was on the 16th move that Anand came up with a prepared idea, an improvement over an earlier game played by Liren in the Candidates' tournament this year.
The Indian ace sacrificed a pawn and felt that he somehow let it slip it in the middle game when he had chances to fight for the advantage. As it happened in the game, Liren closed the queen-side and the game was drawn in 35 moves.
World champion Magnus Carlsen scored a thumping victory over Levon Aronian of Armenia to stretch his lead to a full point after just three rounds in this strongest tournament of the year.
The Norwegian came up with a brutal king-side assault following an unforced error from Aronian out of an Anti-Berlin. Playing just for a small advantage, Carlsen was not impressed by Aronian's 14th move that allowed Carlsen to get the advantage.
Shutting out counter-play on both flanks thereafter, Carlsen played in machine-like fashion to score his second victory in three days.
With Carlsen on two points, Anand remained in joint second along with Liren, Shakhriyayr Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, Sergey Karjakin of Russia, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France and American duo of Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura.
With six rounds still to come in the 10-player round-robin tournament, Aronian now shares the ninth spot alongside Fabiano Caruana of United States.
In other games of the third round, Mamedyarov and Karjakin played out a highly tactical game that ended in a draw.
The Italian opening ended in some wild complexities that the players later revealed was a part of the preparation for both. The peace was signed vide perpetual checks.
Wesley So tried complications out of a queen pawn game against Nakamura but the latter found his way to trade pieces at regular intervals.
Optically, Wesley remained better for the major part of the game but Nakamura had a fortress he could not breach.
Vachier-Lagrave had some advantage that slipped gradually when Caruana came with an ingenious Knight manoeuvre in a worse-looking position.
Soon the players reached an opposite coloured Bishops endgame and drew after 40 moves.
Results round 3: V Anand (Ind, 1.5) drew with Ding Liren (Chn, 1.5); Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 2.5) beat Levon Aronian (Arm, 1); Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 1.5) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 1); Wesley So (Usa, 1.5) drew with Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 1.5); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 1.5) drew with Sergey Karjakin (Rus, 1.5).