Baden-Baden: World champion Viswanathan Anand played out his third draw on the trot, forced to sign peace with lowest-ranked Georg Meier of Germany in the third round of the Grenke Chess Classic here. Playing black for the second time in three days, Anand could do little against a rock-solid display by Meier and the game was drawn without much ado.
Second seed Fabiano Caruana of Italy turned the tables on local favourite Arkadij Naiditsch to emerge as the sole leader in the category-19, double round-robin event between six players.
The Italian took his tally to an enviable 2.5 points out of a possible three, marched his way back to the top-10 of the world rankings and now enjoys a full point lead over Naiditsch, Anand and Daniel Fridman of Germany.
Playing black for the second time in three days, Anand could do little against a rock-solid display by Meier.
In the other game of the day, Fridman held English Michael Adams to a draw leaving the latter to share the fifth spot on one point alongside Meier.
Looking for complications right from the opening, Anand went for the Bogo-Indian and got the imbalance he was hoping for. However, as the game progressed, Meier did not give any chance nor tried to open up the game in any way.
Anand equalised easily but to look for more was not an option despite the disparity in 140 rating points between him and Meier. In a perfect balance, the players repeated moves.
For once, Fabiano Caruana could not show his opening expertise and was on the receiving end against Naidtsch as early as on move eight. The Italian allowed Naiditsch to get a decent position out of the opening but his objectivity in handling a difficult situation came handy.
"The Bishop pair, dark squares, you can't get more in a Najdorf," Naiditsch exclaimed in the post-game conference and said he believed he was "just winning".
However, it was not quite the case as Caruana crawled back and then dealt a decisive blow on move 22 with an exchange sacrifice.
The pressure thereon was simply too much and Naiditsch crumbled when he ran short of time. The game lasted 38 moves.
Fridman enjoyed slightly better prospects out of a Catalan opening against Adams for a long time before suffering a little in the eventual rook and pawns endgame. The game was drawn in 58 moves.
Desperately in need of a victory, Anand has another black in round four when he meets Fridman. Thereafter, the Indian ace gets to play four white games in last six rounds and that's when he is likely to fire the most.
Caruana meets Adams while Naiditsch will take on Meier in other games of round four.