Viswanathan Anand crushed Spaniard Alexei Shirov in Round 10 of the Tata Steel chess tournament on Thursday to share the lead with American Hikaru Nakamuru.
With three rounds to go, Anand and Nakamuru are the favourites to win the title. If Anand claims the title, his sixth here, he will reclaim the No 1 ranking from Magnus Carlsen.
Carlsen suffered a surprising defeat, his second of the tournament, losing to Ian Nepomniachtchi in a hard fought game.
The other two overnight leaders, Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian were held to draw and are on 6.5 points, half a point behind the leaders.
Playing with white, Anand used the slav defence against Shirov and easily managed to get in a commanding position.
Shirov, woefully out of form, failed to read the game as minutely as needed and never recovered from the trouble he found himself in.
“It was a very complicated game,” said Anand.
“I think he missed this manoeuvre in the end that simply wins. Anyway, I feel it was more pleasant for me as if white messes up it would be an equal endgame and if black messes up (which happened) he is checkmated,” the Indian added.
Shirv’s resistance did not last long and he conceded the game to Anand after just 26 moves.
In Group B, Surya Shekhar Ganguly made a comeback of sorts with a win over Friso Nijboer of Holland that took his tally to four points.