Nice, France, Mar 24: World Champion Viswanathan Anand was made to toil hard by Lev Aronian as the Indian went down 0.5-1.5 against the Armenian in the eighth round of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid chess tournament here.
However, Anand managed to hold on to a draw against Aronian in the rapid game and the latter emerged as the sole leader after eight rounds at 10.5, a full point ahead of Magnus Carlsen who scored a rare 2-0 win over Shakhriyar Mamedyarov yesterday. Anand is now lying tied fourth along with Vladimir Kramnik, Vesselin Topalov and Alexnader Morozevich at 8.5 points each. Aronian began his game against Anand, who was at second spot before the eighth round, with some sharp moves in the blindfold.
The Armenian had earlier admitted that he wanted to play that game safe, but since this was Amber and spectator's entertainment had to be kept in mind, so he decided to go the other way.
Anand's problems started with a wrong 14th move f6 as Aronian sensed the opportunity and capitalised on it as it left a big hole on e6.
Aronian won the g4 pawn and reached a winning ending as Anand failed to salvage a draw with just three more rounds left in the tournament.
In the rapid game, Aronian chose the Marshall Attack against Anand's Ruy Lopez and settled for an easy draw.
Meanwhile, Carlsen registered easy victories against Mamedyarov in both blindfold and rapid game.