Nice, March 18: Viswanathan Anand established a sole lead after playing a couple of draws with former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the third round of the Amber blindfold and rapid chess tournament.
Anand took his combined tally to four points and is now half point ahead of nearest rivals Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine, Levon Aronian of Armenia, Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Topalov who all have 3.5 points apiece. Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan are next in line a half point behind and the latter was a show-stealer on the third day with a sensational victory over Kramnik from the black side of a rarely played Budapest Gambit in the rapid game.
Anand also leads the rapid section solely on 2.5 points. A half point clear of Aronian and Topalov while the blindfold section is headed by Ivanchuk, Calrsen and Russian Alexander Morozevich who all have 2 points in their kitty.
Eight rounds are still remaining in the tournament, which features one blindfold and one rapid game in each round.
Topalov and Anand had a theoretical discussion in one of the main lines of the Catalan Opening where the Indian played black.
Topalov had a miniscule advantage in the middle game but that was all to it till the game lasted. Anand defended well and after 59 moves the draw was a just result.
In the rapid game Topalov employed the Caro Kann defense as black that came good. Anand did not get much out the opening as the Bulgarian seemed aptly prepared.
Topalov confided that at some point he thought he could have fought for more but yet again with the clock ticking away decided against it.
"I didn't want to blitz, especially not against Anand," Topalov said.
Twice world junior champion Mamedyarov stole the honours on the third by beating Kramnik.
After the blindfold had ended in a draw the Budapest Gambit was the favoured choice by the Azerbaijani that brought many smiles on the faces of spectators.
Undeterred as he was, Mamedyarov got away with only a slightly worse position out of the opening and later used his pieces effectively to pull the coup after 39 moves.
In other interesting games of the day, Aronian found his nemesis in Israeli Boris Gelfand in the rapid game. After a complicated blindfold that ended in a draw, the Armenian was out of sort after a pawn sacrifice in a French defense game.
Gelfand proved that white did not have enough compensation after 55 moves.