11 Sep 2008, 1412 hrs IST , PTI
BILBAO: World Champion Viswanathan Anand bowed out of contention for a top finish in the Bilbao Grand Slam final chess tournament after losing from a better position against Levon Aronian of Armenia in the eighth round.
After suffering his second loss in the tournament, Anand's number one world ranking also came under threat and unless there is a revival in fortunes of the Indian ace, he stands to lose some precious rating points as well from the tournament.
On another day of 'bloody battles' former world champion Veselin Topalov scored his second victory over Magnus Carlsen of Norway to regain sole lead while Vassily Ivanchuk's new-found form helped him grind Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan.
With just two more rounds remaining in the double round robin event with a soccer-like scoring system, Topalov has 14 points. He is followed by Aronian at 12.
Ivanchuk and Carlsen share the third spot with 11 points apiece while Anand and Radjabov are now distant joint fifth having just 6 points apiece.
For Anand, there were two disturbing things from the defeat against Aronian. One he lost with white and secondly he misplayed a superior endgame.
It was a Scotch opening that gave Anand slightly better prospects after the queens got traded early and the Indian nursed his position well to reach a better rook and minor piece endgame.
After winning a pawn, disaster struck Anand as he lost control in quick time. Aronian took his chances and turned the tables with some deft manoeuvres. It was a bad day in office for the world champion when nothing went right.
Aronian's technique has not been in question for a long time now and he proved why. Queening one of the pawns, the Armenian got the full point in 75 moves.
Topalov Carlsen was a very exciting affair. The Bulgarian had gone for the King pawn opening not afraid of meeting Carlsen's Dragon, which indeed came on the Board.
Carlsen played a theoretical novelty and he continued to play fast in the early middle game showing deep preparation but Topalov managed to get an advantage anyway with some finely crafted manoeuvres.
Experts started to believe in Carlsen's chances again after Topalov missed a few clear wins, pointed out by the computer, but the Bulgarian proved that the human way was also good enough. The game lasted 42 moves.
Ivanchuk came under tremendous time pressure but the ability to play fast and correct helped him gain a full point against Radjabov in a Sicilian defense game.
With 16 moves to go Ivanchuk was left with just one minute against two of Radjabov and while both were blitzing out the moves Radjabov made a few inaccuracies and lost an exchange that proved decisive.