Viswanathan Anand almost laid his hands on the World Chess Championship title after settling for a draw with Grandmaster Alexander Grischuk of Russia in the 13th and penultimate round at Mexico City.
Anand kept his one point lead over Boris Gelfand of Israel who played out a draw with Russian Vladimir Kramnik. The Indian ace inched to 8.5 points out of a maximum possible 13 and is now just a draw away from regaining the title. In the final round Anand will play white against Peter Leko of Hungary, the only winner on the day.
The only way Anand can still miss the title is if he loses against Leko and Gelfand wins against Alexander Morozevich. In case this happens, the tiebreaker will come into effect.
Kramnik is third with 7 points. Leko is next in line on 6.5, Aronian stands sole fifth on 6 while the Russian trio of Grischuk, Svidler and Morozevich are now at the bottom of the table with 5.5 points apiece.
It turned out to be a tough day in office for Anand who had to survive a few anxious moments against Grischuk. It was for the first time in the event that Semi Slav led to a difficult position for Anand in the endgame and he was fighting to salvage a half point for the major part.
Grischuk was well on top after winning a pawn with white pieces but the Anand hung in.
Grischuk went awry with his plans after the first time control and Anand was very much back in the game by move 50. By the 58th move there was no doubt regarding the outcome of the game but peace was finally signed after 73 moves.
Gelfand could get little out of the Slav defense by Kramnik and went for a simple position that offered little chances for either player. The game lasted 26 moves. Leko gave a fine performance, outplaying Morozevich in all departments of the game.