Viswanathan Anand took an unbeatable four-point lead over top seed Levon Aronian to ensure the title with a round to spare in the Bilbao Chess Masters Finals at the Spanish town of Bilbao on Friday.
Draws on both boards meant Anand maintained his overnight four-point lead.
On Friday, Anand comfortably drew with former World champion Ukraine’s Ruslan Ponomariov following perpetual checks in their 41-move battle in Queen’s Gambit Declined. This equal battle reached an ending involving two minor pieces each, following a series of exchanges. Anand forced the perpetual checks when in danger in losing his bishop.
On the other board, Francisco Vallejo gave nothing away to Aronian and came out with honours even against the World’s second-ranked player.
Employing Semi-Tarrasch Defence, Vallejo kept the position in balance. In the rook-and-pawn endgame that followed, Aronian tried until 59 moves to rattle an off-form Vallejo but in vain.
The results: Fifth round: Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukr, 5) drew with Viswanathan Anand (11); Levon Aronian (Arm, 7) drew with Francisco Vallejo (Esp, 2).
Sixth round pairings: Aronian-Anand; Vallejo-Ponomariov.