Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand found his way back to the 2800 rating club and jumped to second spot in world rankings after beating local hero Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the eighth and penultimate round of Vugar Gashimov memorial here.
With his second victory on the trot in the strongest tournament of the year, Anand made sure of at least a second place finish as the Indian ace took his tally to 5.5 points out of a possible eight.
World champion Magnus Carlsen of remained in front after settling for a draw with erstwhile leader Wesley So of United States. The Norwegian took his tally to six points out of a possible eight and remains a half point ahead of Anand with just one round remaining.
Carlsen, however, has a clear edge to win the title as he is set to play with lowest seed Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan in his final round game while Anand will have to tackle second seed Fabiano Caruana of Italy in the last round.
It turned out to be another exciting day as last-placed Michael Adams of England made some amends for himself and defeated Anish Giri of Holland.
In another decisive game, lowly placed Vladimir Kramnik of Russia improved his tournament standing at the expense of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France. The other game of the day between Mamedov and Caruana also ended in a draw.
With Carlsen leading and Anand on his toes, Caruana and So share the third spot on 4.5 points each and the Italian is likely to go all out against Anand which might give the Indian an extra chance to catch up with Carlsen in the event of the Norwegian drawing his game.
Kramnik, Mamedov and Mamedyarov have an identical 3.5 points for a shared fifth spot while Adams, Vachier-Lagrave and Giri share the eighth spot on three points in this 100000 Euros prize money tournament.
Anand had his task cut out in his last white game of the tournament and he did not disappoint his fans in going for an all-out victory against Mamedyarov.
It was a Four Knights opening by Anand and the position was akin to the Ruy Lopez in the early phase and looked more like a queen pawn opening in the middle game.
Mamedyarov was at sea in trying the figure out the intricacies and Anand’s pieces were all over him in the middle game itself. Anand sacrificed his rook for a minor piece to increase the pressure and Mamedyarov collapsed almost immediately. The game lasted 47 moves.
Results round 8: V Anand (Ind, 5.5) beat Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Aze, 3.5); Wesley So (Usa, 4.5) drew with Magnus Carlsen (Nor, 6); Michael Adams (Eng, 3) beat Anish Giri (Ned, 3); Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 3.5) beat Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 3); Rauf Mamedov (Aze, 3.5) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Ita, 4.5).