Bonn, Oct 24: Viswanathan Anand inched closer to the World Chess Championship title after playing out a draw in the seventh game against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia at the Art and exhibition hall on Thursday.
Having won three games and drawn four in this 12-game format, the Indian ace now leads 5-2 and needs only three more draws in the remaining five games to annex the world title yet again.
If he does so, Anand will be the first champion in the history of the game who has won the World Championship in all possible formats - a feat that even the now-retired Garry Kasparov cannot boast off as he stayed away from the knockout world championships.
For the records, Anand has already won the knockout championship in 2001, the world championship match tournament in 2007 and is now close to winning this contest against Kramnik.
The seventh round was not high on adrenaline as Kramnik resorted to the Slav defense, an opening that has served Anand extremely well playing black and it was as if the Russian took a cue from Anand himself in going for what is also known as his stronghold.
The opening did not yield more than a minuscule advantage for Anand as Kramnik went for regulation exchanges. By the 16th move, two minor pieces and a pawn was off the board and Kramnik, though slightly worse, was never in any real danger.
Anand made headway through the lone open file available for both players and the visions of an exciting game were temporarily raised when Anand successfully guided his Bishop to the sixth rank after the exchange of queens.
However, all those expectations were short-lived as Kramnik had already worked out a fine defensive plan that involved making of a fortress after a pawn sacrifice.
This was exactly what happened when Anand took the sacrificed pawn on the 36th move and reached a king pawn endgame where the extra pawn of white was not of much consequence as Kramnik's position was impregnable. The peace was signed immediately.
With just five more rounds remaining, Kramnik is likely to go for the kill in the eight game on Friday as white as it is a now-or-never situation for the Russian.
However, given Anand's form, it looks highly unlikely that he would spoil anything from this point onwards. The World title is likely to remain in India.