Amber 2011: Carlsen score 2-0 to join the leaders

3/14/2011 – Magnus Carlsen joined Levon Aronian and Alexander Grischuk in the shared lead in the overall standings by defeating Vugar Gashimov 2-0.His victory with the black pieces won the € 1,000 "Game of the Day" prize. Aronian beat Hikaru Nakamura 1½-½, while Grischuk had the same result in his mini-match against former co-leader Boris Gelfand. Round two report with video GM analysis.

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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.


Monte Carlo on the European coast of the Mediterranean


Five of the twelve participant of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament

Report after round two

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

Magnus Carlsen joined Levon Aronian and Alexander Grischuk in the shared lead in the overall standings by defeating Vugar Gashimov 2-0. Aronian beat Hikaru Nakamura 1½-½, while Grischuk had the same result in his mini-match against former co-leader Boris Gelfand. Carlsen’s rapid win with the black pieces won the € 1,000 Game of the Day Prize. The Game of the Day Prize in Round 1 was won by Alexander Grischuk for his blindfold win against Vladimir Kramnik (which he gratefully accepted saying that he thought that Carlsen’s rapid win against Nakamura should in fact have won the prize!).

Boris Gelfand and Alexander Grischuk played a rare line of the King’s Indian in their blindfold game. When Grischuk went through the moves on a laptop in the hospitality lounge after the game he commented that things were not "as easy as Fritz says" and praised his opponent’s play: "Until move 39 he almost played perfectly."

Gelfand,Boris (2733) - Grischuk,Alexander (2747) [E94]
20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC (2), 13.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 exd4 8.Nxd4 Re8 9.f3 c6 10.Kh1 Nh5 11.g4 Nf6 12.Bf4 h5 13.g5 Nh7 14.Qd2 Nd7 15.Rad1 Qe7 16.Rg1 Ne5 17.Qe1 Nf8 18.Qf2 a6 19.Nb3 Be6 20.c5 Rad8 21.cxd6 Rxd6 22.Qc5 Rxd1 23.Rxd1 Nfd7 24.Qxe7 Rxe7 25.Bc1 Bc4 26.Kg2 Bxe2 27.Nxe2 Nc4 28.Nbd4 c5 29.Nc2 Nf8 30.b3 Ne5 31.f4 Nc6 32.e5 Ne6 33.Be3 Rc7 34.Kf3 b5 35.Ng3 c4 36.bxc4 Na5 37.c5 Nxc5 38.Nb4 Ne6 39.Nd5 Rc2 40.Nf6+ Bxf6 41.exf6 Nc4 42.f5 Rc3 43.fxe6 Rxe3+ 44.Kf4 fxe6 45.Rd8+ Kf7 46.Rd7+ Ke8 47.Re7+ Kf8 48.Nxh5 e5+ 49.Kg4 Re4+

Here the only option for White was 50.Kh3 with an interesting attack: 50...gxh5 51.g6 and winning chances. But it doesn't work with the king on f3: 50.Kf3? Nd2+ 51.Kf2 gxh5 52.g6 Rf4+ 53.Ke2 Rxf6 54.g7+ Kg8 55.Kxd2 Rf2+ 56.Ke3 Rxa2 57.Ke4 Rxh2 58.Kf5 Kh7 59.Ra7 Ra2 60.g8Q+ Kxg8 61.Kg6 Kf8 62.Kf6 Rf2+ 63.Kxe5 b4 64.Rxa6 b3 65.Rb6 b2 66.Ke4 Ke7 67.Ke3 Rh2 68.Kf4 Kd7 69.Kg3 Rd2 0-1. An exciting, interesting game.

Magnus Carlsen had the initiative in his blindfold game against Vugar Gashimov and carried it into a rook endgame with four pawns each, which he then converted into a queen ending with an extra pawn. Although Fritz tells us that the position is a draw, Magnus proceeded to win the endgame in trademark style (can anyone count how many drawn position the Norwegian has won?). We will not delve further into this endgame as we can feel a didactic Karsten Müller report in the making.

Carlsen scored a second win in the rapid game. Here's a discussion of the game by GM Daniel King in his wrap-up show on Playchess.com:

The next round-ups are on March 20 by Maurice Ashley and March 19 and 24 by Daniel King

Vladimir Kramnik said Vishy Anand's 4...d5 in their Symmetrical English blindfold game took him back to his childhood years (when the variation was considered unsound). Anand in a super-smooth counter said that indeed in his teenage years this had been the case. On move 17 Black gave up a pawn to set up what turned out to be an impregnable fortress and the game was drawn. Kramnik was more upset about the draw in the second game: "You work hard to get an extra pawn and when you have it you just give it away in one move", he said (36…f5 gave away the pawn on e6).

The blindfold game between Veselin Topalov and Sergey Karjakin provided another example chess blindness:

Topalov,Veselin (2775) - Karjakin,Sergey (2776) [E54]
20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC (2), 13.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 c5 6.Nf3 d5 7.0-0 dxc4 8.Bxc4 cxd4 9.exd4 a6 10.a4 Nc6 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 Be7 13.Re1 Bd7 14.Qe2 Nd5 15.Bg3 Bb4 16.Rec1

Now Karjakin played 16...Nde7, but Topalov for some reason believed it was the other knight and played 17.Ne5, allowing White to win the d4 pawn – which Karjakin did not do, believing that Topalov, the great tactician, had sacrificed it on purpose! The game went to a rook endgame that Topalov was able to defend to a draw: 17...Nxe5 18.Qxe5 Bc6 19.Bd3 Rc8 20.Rd1 Qa5 21.Qxa5 Bxa5 22.Bd6 Rfe8 23.b4 Bc7 24.Bc5 Nd5 25.Nxd5 Bxd5 26.a5 Red8 27.g3 Bd6 28.Bb6 Rf8 29.Bc5 Bxc5 30.dxc5 Bf3 31.Re1 Rfd8 32.Be4 Bxe4 33.Rxe4 Kf8 34.Rb1 Ke7 35.Kf1 Rd5 36.h4 Kd7 37.Rf4 f6 38.Re1 Re8 39.Rfe4 g5 40.hxg5 hxg5 41.g4 e5 42.Ke2 Rh8 43.Rc1 Kc6 44.Rc3 Kb5 45.Rf3 Rh6 46.Rf5 Rd7 47.Rf3 Rd8 48.Rf5 Rd7 49.Rf3 Rd8 50.Rf5 Ka4 51.Rf3 Rd7 52.Rf5 Kb5 ½-½. In the rapid game Topalov was under pressure again, but again Karjakin failed to upset him and after 25 moves he decided to force a draw by a repetition.

In the blindfold game between Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian the American GM played in "Aronian style" and had a win on the board towards the end.

Nakamura,Hikaru (2774) - Aronian,Levon (2808) [E60]
20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC (2), 13.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 c6 4.Bg2 d5 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Nf3 Bg7 7.Ne5 0-0 8.0-0 Ng4 9.Nd3 Bxd4 10.h3 Nf6 11.Bh6 Re8 12.e3 Bb6 13.Nc3 Nc6 14.Na4 Bc7 15.Rc1 Bd6 16.Nc3 e6 17.Nb5 Bf8 18.Bf4 Nh5 19.Bc7 Qd7 20.Qa4 a6 21.Bb6 Nb4 22.Nxb4 Qxb5 23.Qxb5 axb5 24.Bc5 Nf6 25.a3 Bxc5 26.Rxc5 Bd7 27.Rfc1 Red8 28.f3 Ne8 29.e4 dxe4 30.fxe4 Nd6 31.e5 Nc4 32.Bxb7 Rab8 33.Rc7 Na5 34.Be4 Be8 35.Bd3 Kg7 36.R1c2 Nc4 37.Rc5 Rd4 38.Bxc4 bxc4 39.R5xc4 Rd1+ 40.Kg2 Ba4 41.Rf2 Rbd8 42.Rc7 Be8 43.Rfc2 Ba4 44.Rf2 Be8 45.Rfc2 R8d4 46.Kf3 Rf1+ 47.Ke3 Rdd1 48.Rd2 Rfe1+ 49.Re2 Rg1 50.Kf3 Bb5 51.Rf2 Rde1 52.Rc5 Ba4 53.Nc2 Rc1 54.b4 Rgd1 55.Rc7 Rd5 56.Ke4 Be8 57.Re7 Rd8 58.Nd4 Kf8 59.Ra7 Re1+ 60.Ne2 Bb5 61.Rfxf7+ Kg8 62.Rg7+ Kf8 63.Rxh7 Rxe2+ 64.Kf4 Rf2+ 65.Ke3 Re2+ 66.Kf4 Rf2+ 67.Ke3 Re2+ 68.Kf3 Kg8 69.Rag7+ Kf8

Now 70.Rb7 Bc6+ 71.Kxe2 Bxb7 72.Rxb7 should clinch things, but instead Hikaru played 70.Rc7? Kg8 71.Rc4?? As avid fans of blindfold chess you should be able to tell why in a millisecond: White thought that the black bishop was on c4 and that with his 71st move he was capturing it. The shock came with 71...Bxc4 0-1.

Standings after the second round

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1. Aronian
2
  Grischuk
2
2. Anand
  Carlsen
3. Gashimov
1
  Gelfand
1
4. Giri
½
  Ivanchuk
½
  Karjakin
½
  Kramnik
½
  Nakamura
½
  Topalov
½
 
1. Carlsen
2
2. Aronian
  Gelfand
  Grischuk
3. Anand
1
  Gashimov
1
  Topalov
1
4. Giri
½
  Ivanchuk
½
  Karjakin
½
  Kramnik
½
  Nakamura
½
 
1. Aronian
  Carlsen
  Grischuk
2. Anand
  Gelfand
3. Gashimov
2
4. Topalov
5. Giri
1
  Ivanchuk
1
  Karjakin
1
  Kramnik
1
  Nakamura
1

Player portraits


Photo by John Nunn in Monaco

Magnus Carlsen – Norway. Elo rating: 2815; World ranking: 2; Date of birth: November 30, 1990. Amber highlights: Shared second in the rapid in his 2007 debut, shared second in 2008, shared first in the blindfold in 2009, shared first in the rapid and shared overall first in 2010.

Magnus Carlsen returns to Monaco, where he made his Amber debut in 2007, bursting with ambitions. Following his disappointing performance in Wijk aan Zee he is eager to repeat last year's triumph or even do better. After all last year he had to share first place after a gripping neck-and-neck race with Vasily Ivanchuk.

Carlsen began the year as the number one in the world rankings after another phenomenal final sprint at the London Chess Classic last December, where he fought back from a seemingly hopeless position to claim first prize. Nevertheless, he summed up 2010 as 'not such a great year'. That almost humoristic assessment was a clear reference to his poor play at the Olympiad and the Grand Slam Final in Bilbao. But how could it not be a great year if you win all other tournaments you take part in, including three Grand Slam tournaments in Wijk aan Zee, Bazna and Nanjing? And a rapid tournament in Norway where he beat Anand in the final? Carlsen's conclusion was evidently a further sign of his search for perfection and an indirect reference to the second half of 2009 when he won the Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing with the unbelievable score of 8 out of 10 (winning all his white games), the London Chess Classic and the World Blitz Championship. As a result he conquered the top spot in the FIDE rating list for the first time on January 1, 2010. Aged 19, he was the youngest chess player ever to achieve this feat.


Magnus during the rapid game against Gashimov in round two (photo Nunn)

Carlsen has been making headlines worldwide ever since he began his race for the grandmaster title. In the first month of 2004 he took the Corus C Group by storm and only three months later he made his third and final GM norm in Dubai. At the age of 13 years, 4 months and 26 days he was (at that time) the youngest grandmaster in the world. In the years that followed this historic moment Carlsen didn't disappoint his followers.

Journalists all over the world have not failed to notice his successes and their attention has not gotten less after he started a side-career as a model for G-Star Raw.

Source: Amber 2011 web site

Links

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