Norwegian sensation Magnus Carlsen was a draw away from becoming the new world chess champion after scoring his third win over reigning champion Viswanathan Anand in the 12-game title duel on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Carlsen, the current world number one, won the crucial ninth game after the Indian resigned following an engrossing 56-move match that lasted three hours and 21 minutes.
Having also won the fifth and sixth games and drawn the other six, the Norwegian needs only a draw in Friday's 10th game to take his tally to an unbeatable 6.5 points.
Carlsen, visibly relieved at emerging unscathed from the keenly-fought contest, did not respond when asked by reporters if the crown was now
virtually in the bag.
He preferred to dwell instead on the tough battle provided by the Indian in his home city of Chennai.
"This was a very difficult game," Carlsen said. "The positions were complicated. I had to find the right moves to regain balance. There was a fear of being mated all the time."
Anand, who at 43 is 21 years older than his rival and is in danger of losing the title he has held since 2007, conceded it will need a miraculous turnaround to keep his chances alive.
"I need three wins in a row," he said. "I can try but the situation does not look very good."
The total prize fund for the title clash is about $2.24 million with the winner getting 60 percent and the loser taking home the rest.