World champion Viswanathan Anand will have to come firing on all cylinders to be in with a chance to catch up with leader Levon Aronian of Armenia in the ongoing Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament underway here.
With just three rounds remaining, Anand is on fourth spot. Aronian enjoys a full point lead over Magnus Carlsen of Norway and is two points ahead of Anand.
The Indian ace was in lead till the third round but since then has not been able to keep pace with Aronian, who also won the direct encounter between them and is currently on 10.5 points.
Peter Leko of Hungary is in third spot on nine points while Anand, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Alexander Morozevich of Russia are now joint fourth on 8.5 points each.
Anand's blindfold standing is joint seventh spot on four points. While in the rapid he is still joint second Anand remained in joint second spot on 4.5 points in the rapid section. Aronian has a healthy 1.5 points lead in this section as he has garnered 6 points so far.
In the ninth round, Anand will meet Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, who is the only player in Amber history who has played it every time the event has been organised.
Considering the fact that it was in 1992 that first Amber tournament was held, this is certainly a record to cherish.
Ivanchuk has had some promising and some ordinary results in the tournament but most of the top players are wary of this giant who recently went up to as high as number two in world rankings.
There was a slide thereafter and though he no longer holds that place, Ivanchuk remains a big force to reckon with.
For Anand, this has been a mixed event thus far. While it was the blindfold earlier that troubled his overall results, this time the king of rapid chess is going through rough weathers in his favourite version of the game.
So far, Anand has scored only 4.5 points in rapid out of a possible nine which is a big slip from his usual results in this variant. Last year, though he could not win the overall event, Anand was still a winner in rapid section here.
Aronian has played excellently and according to the experts only Carlsen may have a real chance on catching up with him. The Armenian former world junior champion has been a bit pragmatic in blindfold but in rapid his execution is exemplary thus far.
Aronian next meets Alexander Morozevich of Russia, who is leading the blindfold section.
Carlsen is likely to figure in the top six in world ranking when the list comes out on April first. Not without reasons this vastly improving player is becoming nemesis of many these days. Carlsen meets Kramnik in the next round.
Pairings round 9:
Peter Leko (Hun) v/s Sergey Karjakin (Ukr); Alexander Morozevich (Rus) v/s Levon Aronian (Arm); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus) v/s Magnus Carlsen (Nor); V Anand (Ind) v/s Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukr); Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze) Loek Van Wely (Ned); Veselin Topalov (Bul) v/s Boris Gelfand (Isr).