Amber 2011: Carlsen defeats Kramnik 2-0, closes in on Aronian

3/20/2011 – Levon Aronian is still in the sole lead with a score of 10 points from 14 games. Magnus Carlsen improved his position with a 2-0 win over Vladimir Kramnik and now trails the Armenian grandmaster by half a point. The € 1,000 Game of the Day Prize was awarded for the third time in a row to Vasily Ivanchuk, this time for his rapid win over Alexander Grischuk. Round seven report.

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The 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament is taking place at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco, from March 11 to 24, 2011. Every day four sessions are played, two blindfold and two rapid. The first session starts at 14.30h, the fourth session finishes around 20.00h. The rate of play is 25 minutes per game per player. With every move made in the blindfold games 20 seconds is added to the clock, with every move made in the rapid games 10 seconds is added.


"Night view from the balcony," John Nunn entitles this picture he sent us from Monaco

Report after round seven

Blindfold Chess   Rapid Chess
Giri-Topalov
0-1
  Topalov-Giri
½-½
Carlsen-Kramnik
1-0
  Kramnik-Carlsen
0-1
Gashimov-Karjakin
½-½
  Karjakin-Gashimov
½-½
Aronian-Gelfand
1-0
  Gelfand-Aronian
½-½
Ivanchuk-Grischuk
½-½
  Grischuk-Ivanchuk
0-1
Nakamura-Anand
½-½
  Anand-Nakamura
½-½

The first blindfold session became a private show for the privileged when the Internet in the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel went down while two games were still in progress. A small group gathered in front of a small monitor in a corner of the VIP room where the moves could be followed on two tiny diagrams. That group grew considerably during the final moves of the game between Carlsen and Kramnik, which lasted 91 moves and close to two hours. The length of that game slightly upset the schedule for the remaining games of the day, but it also gave the technicians of the hotel time to remedy the problem Fifteen minutes after the first session had finally finished everything was back to normal in the second session.

When Anish Giri and Veselin Topalov walked into the hospitality lounge, no one knew how their game had ended, but soon it became clear from their body language and facial expressions that the Bulgarian former world champion had won. It was the first game ever between the two grandmasters and it was a shaky debut for the young Dutchman. In a King’s Indian it was not a series of tactical shots that decided the issue but a number of strategic inaccuracies.

In the rapid game Giri, as Black (above right), got an excellent position when he forced a queen exchange. However, Topalov slowly regrouped and when Giri went astray with 30…Bxb4 (he should have played 30…Nb8) his position was suddenly unpleasant. But Topalov returned the favour with 35.e4, which was based on a miscalculation, and the game ended in a draw.

The blindfold game between Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik could not be viewed live by the Internet audience (so far on average around 45,000 unique visitors per day!) and that was a great pity as in line with their previous battles there was again a lot of drama. Kramnik played his trusted Petroff, but contrary to what normally happens, he ended up in a clearly worse position.

Carlsen,Magnus (2815) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2785) [C42]
20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC (7), 19.03.2011
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.0-0 0-0 8.c4 c6 9.Qc2 Na6 10.a3 Bg4 11.Ne5 Bf5 12.Nc3 Bxe5 13.dxe5 Nac5 14.cxd5 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 Nxc3 16.Qxf5 Nxd5 17.Bd2 Qb6 18.Qc2 Rae8 19.Rae1 Re6 20.Re4 f6 21.exf6 Rexf6 22.Bc1 h6 23.Qe2 Kh8 24.h3 Qb3 25.f3 Rg6 26.Kh1 Rd6 27.Re1 Nf6 28.Re3 Qd5 29.Re5 Qd4 30.Re7 Rd7 31.Be3 Qa4 32.Rxd7 Nxd7 33.Qd2 Nf6 34.Bc5 Rf7 35.Qd3 b6 36.Be7 Ng8 37.Bb4 c5 38.Bc3 Qc6 39.Qc4 Qd7 40.Re6 b5 41.Qg4 Re7 42.Rg6 Qxg4 43.Rxg4 Kh7 44.Re4?

Afther this questionable move, which allowed Black to take on e4 and follow up with 45…Nf6, the tables could have been turned on Carlsen. According to Kramnik this would have given him a position that was ‘winning or in any case very close to winning’. 44...Rb7? The reason he didn’t take on e4, was that Kramnik believed his rook was on d7 and that he only realized that it was on e7 when he tried to play his knight to e7 and the computer refused to accept that move. Next in a panicky reaction he tried to play the rook as quickly as possible and put it on b7. In the following manoeuvring phase Carlsen gradually outplayed him and obtained a winning position. 45.Re5 b4 46.axb4 cxb4 47.Bd4 Ne7 48.Re6 a5 49.Ra6 Rd7 50.Bc5 Ng6 51.Rxa5 Rd1+ 52.Kh2 Rd2 53.Ra7 Nh4 54.Kg3 Nf5+ 55.Kf4 Rxg2 56.Rb7 Nh4 57.Bd4 Ng6+ 58.Ke3 Nh4 59.Ke4 Re2+ 60.Kd3 Rg2 61.Ke4 Re2+ 62.Kd5 Nf5 63.Be5 Kg6 64.f4 Rd2+ 65.Ke6 Rd8 66.Rxb4 Re8+ 67.Kd7 Re7+ 68.Kc6 Kh5 69.Rb7 Re8 70.b4 g5 71.Rf7 Ne3 72.b5 Nc4 73.Bc7 Kg6 74.Rd7 Re3 75.Kc5 Rc3 76.Kb4 Rc1 77.fxg5 hxg5 78.Rd4 Ne3 79.Rd6+ Kf5 80.b6 Rb1+ 81.Kc5 g4 82.hxg4+ Nxg4 83.Rd5+ Ke6 84.Rd6+ Kf5 85.Rd4 Nf6 86.Kc6 Rc1+ 87.Kb7 Ke6 88.Rd6+ Ke7 89.Kc8 Ne8 90.Rd7+ Ke6 91.b7

In the final position Kramnik believed his rook was on b1 and tried to take the pawn on b7. When he realized that this was impossible he resigned. Coming out of the playing room Carlsen shrugged his shoulders and commented that he also would have found a winning plan if his opponent had remembered the position of his pieces. Fritz tells us that White has a mate in 26. 1-0.

In the rapid game Kramnik repeated the opening he had played against Giri, but Carlsen chose a different set-up. The Norwegian grandmaster was pleased with his position, reasoning that he would be fine if he obtained a Benoni structure. At move 27 Kramnik missed a tactic that decided the game.

Kramnik,Vladimir (2785) - Carlsen,Magnus (2815) [A15]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (7), 19.03.2011
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 b6 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 e6 6.Nc3 a6 7.b3 Be7 8.Bb2 0-0 9.e3 d6 10.d4 Ne4 11.d5 Nxc3 12.Bxc3 exd5 13.Ne1 Bf6 14.Bxf6 Qxf6 15.Rc1 Qf5 16.Nd3 Nd7 17.Nf4 Nf6 18.Re1 Rfe8 19.h3 Re5 20.g4 Qd7 21.Nxd5 Bxd5 22.cxd5 Qe7 23.Qd3 g5 24.Kf1 Nd7 25.a4 Rf8 26.Qxa6 f5

27.Qb7? This move throws the position out of balance, for reasons we will soon see. 27...fxg4 28.hxg4? Rxe3. This is what Kramnik had overlooked. 29.Qa6 Qf6 30.Re2 Ne5 31.Rce1, and while his opponent sat thinking about his 31st move Kramnik resigned. 0-1.

The shortest game of the day was the blindfold game between Vugar Gashimov and Sergey Karjakin. The reason was a mind slip of the Azeri grandmaster. On move 8 he should have first played 8.a4 and only after 8…b4 push his d-pawn to d4. When he pushed d4 immediately his set-up lacked all punch. Black’s structure was fine and disappointed by this development Gashimov accepted Karjakin’s peace proposal after a mere 17 moves. The rapid game also ended in a draw.

Levon Aronian as not really proud of his win against Boris Gelfand in their blindfold game. ‘I don’t even get swindle points’, he concluded – in the opening the Armenian grandmaster had certainly tried to exploit his ‘swindling talent’ by ‘putting his pieces on rather random squares’.

Aronian,Levon (2808) - Gelfand,Boris (2733) [A29]
20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC (7), 19.03.2011

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nb6 7.0-0 Be7 8.a3 0-0 9.b4 Be6 10.Rb1 f6 11.d3 Nd4 12.Nd2 c6 13.Nde4 Bf7 14.Nc5 Qc7 15.Be3 a5 16.Qd2 axb4 17.axb4 Nd7 18.N5e4 f5 19.Bg5 Qd8 20.Bxe7 Qxe7 21.Ng5 Ra3 22.Rfc1 Nb3 23.Qb2 Nxc1 24.Qxa3 Nxe2+ 25.Nxe2 Qxg5 26.Qa7 Qd2 27.Qxb7 Nb8 28.b5

Aronian has had to work hard to create counterchances, and now it looked as if he might save the draw. But all these considerations lost their urgency when Gelfand played 28...Qc3?? believing he was capturing a knight on c3. 29.Nxc3. The way so many blindfold games go. 1-0. In the rapid game Aronian mixed up moves, without doing any damage, and drew in 22 moves.

In their blindfold game Vasily Ivanchuk and Alexander Grischuk discussed a well-known pawn sacrifice in the Sämisch King’s Indian. The game ended in a text-book 42-move draw. The rapid game was a masterpiece by the Ukrainian grandmaster that in the words of GM John Nunn contained ‘various nice touches’.

Grischuk,Alexander (2747) - Ivanchuk,Vassily (2779) [E11]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (7), 19.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 Nc6 6.Nc3 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 Ne4 8.Rc1 0-0 9.Bg2 d6 10.d5 Nd8 11.Nd2 Nxc3 12.Rxc3 e5 13.c5 dxc5 14.Qc2 c6 15.Rxc5 Bf5 16.e4 Bg6 17.Qc3 b6 18.Rc4 c5 19.b4

19...a5! Black forces the queenside to be closed as 20.bxc5 would lose a rook after 20…b5. Now Black will get a beautiful knight on d6. 20.b5 Nb7 21.0-0 Nd6 22.a4 Rae8 23.Qb3 f5 24.Rc3 f4 25.Nc4 Nxc4 26.Qxc4 Qd7 27.Qe2 Rf6 28.g4 Bf7 29.f3 g5 30.h4 gxh4 31.Bh3 Rg6 32.Kf2 h5 33.Rh1 Qe7 34.Rcc1 Kh7 35.Rcg1 Reg8 36.Kf1 Kh6 37.Rg2 c4 38.Qxc4 Qa3 39.Rf2 hxg4 40.Bxg4

Black has ignored the opportunity to take an exchange and instead concentrated on a kingside assault. He finishes his opponent off with an exchange sacrifice of his own: 40...Rxg4 41.fxg4 Rxg4 42.Qe2 Bh5 43.Rf3 Qc1+ 44.Qe1 Qc4+ 45.Kf2 Qc2+ 0-1.

In the blindfold game between Hikaru Nakamura and Vishy Anand the World Champion briefly got excited when he could play 16…c4, until he realized that there was not real damage for White because his h-pawn was on h3. Had it been on h2, Black would have been winning after 18…Nf6, now the position was more or less in balance. White gave two pawns to create an initiative, but Black could thwart that same initiative by giving back the pawns. A repetition of moves ended the game. The rapid game was a long and gritty struggle. The balance was never really upset and after 65 tense move the fight ended in a draw.

Standings after the seventh round

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1. Aronian
2. Anand
4
  Carlsen
4
  Grischuk
4
3. Gashimov
  Gelfand
  Karjakin
4. Topalov
  Ivanchuk
3
  Nakamura
3
  Giri
5. Kramnik
2
 
1. Carlsen
2. Aronian
3. Anand
4
  Ivanchuk
4
4. Grischuk
  Topalov
5. Gashimov
3
  Gelfand
3
  Karjakin
3
  Kramnik
3
  Nakamura
3
6. Giri
2
 
1. Aronian
10
2. Carlsen
3. Anand
8
4. Grischuk
5. Ivanchuk
7
  Topalov
7
6. Gashimov
  Gelfand
  Karjakin
7. Nakamura
6
8. Kramnik
5
9. Giri

Cross table of both sections

Click to enlarge


Player portraits: Vladimir Kramnik


Photo by John Nunn in Monaco

Vladimir Kramnik – Russia. Elo rating: 2785, World ranking: 4, Date of birth: June 25, 1975. Amber highlights: Overall winner in 1996, 1998 (shared with Shirov), 1999, 2001 (shared with Topalov), 2004 (shared with Morozevich) and 2007. Shared second in 2008 and 2009. Overall second in 2010.

No player can boast a better Amber record than Vladimir Kramnik, who over the years won the event an amazing six times. His total score of 219½ from 352 (62,36%) is astounding and practically equal to Anand's. Kramnik is exceptionally strong in the blindfold part. Some years ago he even considered asking the arbiter if he could also play the rapid games without sight of the board. His blindfold win against Topalov in the 2003 edition ranks as one of the most brilliant achievements in Amber history.

Kramnik has been among the world elite ever since he burst upon the scene at the Manila Olympiad in 1992, where as a 17-year-old youngster he had a baffling 8,5 out of 9 debut on the Russian team. Over the years he's won practically everything that there is to be won, including the super-tournaments in Wijk aan Zee in 1998 and Linares in 2000 and 2004. In Dortmund he lifted the winner's trophy no fewer than nine times! His tie for first with Kasparov in Linares in 2000 turned out to be the prologue of the biggest success in his rich career, his World Championship match victory over the same Kasparov later that year in London. Kramnik successfully defended his world title in Brissago in 2004 against Peter Leko when in a must-win situation he won the last game, and in Elista in 2006 against Topalov, when he struck in the rapid play-off. He lost the title in 2007 in the World Championship Tournament in Mexico where he finished shared second behind the new champion, Anand. In Bonn 2008 he got a chance to reclaim the title in a match against Anand, but the Indian proved better prepared and won convincingly.

Following the loss of the world title, Kramnik has been playing impressive chess. Among his best recent results are his wins in the 2009 Tal Memorial and the 2010 Bilbao Grand Slam Final. He could have been even more successful if he had been more efficient at crucial moments. He is working on that in view of the Candidates matches. He will want to show the first results of his work in Monaco.

Source: Amber 2011 web site

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!


Topics Amber 2011
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