Amber: Anand leads with 4:0

3/21/2005 – The Amber Tournament began with a dry score for favourite Vishy Anand. The Indian GM won all four games – with a bit of help from some of his opponents. Due to the unusual format – blindfold and rapid mini matches – we see top GMs blundering badly in their chess games. Read our extensive illustrated report.

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The Fourteenth Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament will take place at the Monte Carlo Grand Hôtel in Monaco, from 19th to 31st March 2005. The Dutch billionaire J.J. van Oosterom is the exclusive sponsor of this event.

Rounds one and two

The event was opened on Friday night at the luxurious Monte Carlo Yacht Club, at a gala dinner specially honoring the three world champions present. Three? Yes, count them: reigning Classical Chess World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, former FIDE Champion Vishy Anand and – Joop van Oosterom, the sponsor of the event. He recently became Correspondence Chess World Champion! A full report on this remarkable feat will be provided in the next issue of ChessBase Magazine.


The exquisite venue: Monte Carlo in the city-state of Monaco, is known for its casino (above), beaches, glamour, and sightings of famous people.


The famous Monaco Casino, front entrance


The yacht harbour with some of the finest recreational boats ever built

Another special guest at the dinner was Melody Amber. Ring a bell? It's the sponsor's eldest daughter, after whom the tournament was named. Also honored: Vassily Ivanchuk, who was celebrating his 36th birthday.


A sparkler for birthday boy Vassily Ivanchuk

The drawing of lots is always a cause for special creativity. Here the players were asked, months in advance, to predict the price of a barrel of crude oil on the day of the opening ceremony. Peter Leko was closest, predicting $55, with Morozevich a close second with his precise $53.58. The actual price was $56.9 and climbing.

Round one

The first round saw Alexander Morozevich, unsurprisingly, playing chess from a different part of the galaxy. Against Loek van Wely it was what the tournament bulletin calls a don’t-try-this-at-home opening, about which Anand remarked: "If this is theory it’s from a book I’d never buy. Steinitz would faint if he saw it." But the game ended well for the space alien, with a little help from his opponent


One of the most unconventional players around: Alexander Morozevich

Morozevich,A (2741) – Van Wely,L (2679) [D00]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (1), 19.03.2005
1.d4 d5 2.Bg5 f6 3.Bf4 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.c4 dxc4 6.d5 e5 7.Bc1 Nb4 8.e4 c6 9.a3 Nd3+ 10.Bxd3 cxd3 11.dxc6 bxc6 12.0-0 Bc5 13.h3 Bh5 14.b4 Bb6 15.a4 Qd6 16.Nbd2 Rd8 17.Ba3 Ne7 18.a5 Bd4 19.Rc1 a6 20.Qa4 Ba7 21.Rc3 Qe6 22.Qb3 Qxb3 23.Nxb3 Bxf3 24.gxf3 Kf7 25.Rd1 Ke6 26.Bc1 d2 27.Bxd2 Rd6 28.Rb1 Rhd8 29.Be3.

Black was better until around move 25, then things began to run badly for the Dutch grandmaster. But still all is not lost. In the above position, however, he played 29... Ng6??, and after 30.Bxa7 Rd1+ 31.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 32.Kh2 he had to resign. 1-0.

What had occurred? It is tempting to assume that van Wely simply did not "see" on his internal board that the a7 bishop was attacked by Morozevich's last move, 29.Bd2-e3. But it is more complex than that. Van Wely had forgotten that the white pawn was on h3 and not h2. He was planning 30.Bxa7 Rd1+ 31.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 32.Kg2 Nf4+ 33.Kg3 Rg1+ 34.Kh4 g5 mate. Unfortunately for him, and to his horror during the game, White had 32.Kh2. The white king escapes and Black has no mate.


Pétér vs Pyotr in their blindfold game (played with blank boards on a computer screen)

Peter Leko started with a slump against Peter Svidler, by whom he was outplayed. But the Hungarian Pétér did miss a very nice win, for which Pyotr from St Petersburg can thank his lucky stars.

Leko,P (2749) – Svidler,P (2735) [A15]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (1), 19.03.2005
1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 e5 3.Bg2 c6 4.Nf3 e4 5.Nd4 d5 6.cxd5 Qxd5 7.Nc2 Qh5 8.h3 Na6 9.Nc3 Qg6 10.Ne3 Bc5 11.Qa4 b5 12.Qd1 0-0 13.0-0 Rd8 14.Qc2 Nb4 15.Qb1 Re8 16.a4 Rb8 17.b3 Nbd5 18.axb5 Bxe3 19.Nxd5 Bxf2+ 20.Rxf2 cxd5 21.Bb2 Qxg3 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Rxf6 Bxh3 24.Qf1 Re5 25.Rxa7 Rg5??

Black was much better throughout the game, but was slowly slipping. His last move is a terrible blunder. But Peter Leko doesn't see the easy win – unlike visiting GM John Nunn in the hospitality lounge and about a hundred Fritzes kibitzing on the Playchess.com server. If you don't spot it with the above diagram in front of you, you can find it in our JavaScript replay section. 26.Rf2?? e3 27.dxe3 Qxe3 28.Kh1 Qxa7 29.Bxh3 Rxb5 30.Qc1 Rg6 31.Rf3 Rc5 32.Qf4 Qc7 33.Qe3 Rc1+ 34.Bf1 Qc5 35.Qxc5 Rxc5 36.Bg2 d4 37.Rf4 Rc1+ 38.Bf1 Rg3 39.b4 Rb3 40.Kg2 Rxb4 41.Kf2 Rc2 42.Rg4+ Kf8 43.Kf3 Rb1 44.Bg2 Rb3+ 45.Ke4 Rxe2+ 0-1.


Visiting dignitary Dr John Nunn

Vishy Anand was in great form, winning both his games against Shirov. Once again the result required a little assistance by his luckless opponent.

Anand,V (2786) – Shirov,A (2713) [C42]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (1), 19.03.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nb4 9.Be2 0-0 10.Nc3 Bf5 11.a3 Nxc3 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Re1 Re8 14.cxd5 Qxd5 15.Bf4 Rac8 16.Bd3 Qd7 17.Rb1 Bxd3 18.Qxd3 b6 19.d5 Bf6 20.c4 h6 21.h3 Ne7 22.Ne5 Bxe5 23.Rxe5 Ng6 24.Rxe8+ Rxe8 25.Bg3 Qe7 26.Kh1 Qc5 27.Rb5 Re1+ 28.Kh2 Qe7 29.Rb1 Rxb1 30.Qxb1 Qxa3 31.Qf5 Qc5 32.Qc8+ Nf8 33.Qd8? According to Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Fritz 33.Qb8 was required.

Here 33...Qxc4 34.Bxc7 Kh7 was the natural defence, but Shirov played 33...Kh7? and was quickly disposed by Vishy Anand: 34.d6. Cutting off Black's defence of the Nf8. 34...Ne6. Or 34...cxd6 35.Qxf8+–. 35.dxc7 1-0.


Shirov vs Anand with board and pieces

In their rapid game Anand, as he readily agreed, ended up in a lost position against Shirov’s Advance Variation of the Caro Kann. Here's how the game actually ended:

Shirov,A (2713) – Anand,V (2786) [B12]
Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC (1), 19.03.2005
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Be3 Qb6 5.Qc1 e6 6.c4 dxc4 7.Bxc4 Ne7 8.Ne2 Qd8 9.0-0 Nd7 10.Ng3 Bg6 11.Nc3 Nf5 12.Bg5 Qb6 13.Nxf5 Bxf5 14.Rd1 h6 15.Bh4 Qb4 16.Be2 g5 17.Bg3 h5 18.h4 gxh4 19.Bxh4 Bh6 20.f4 Nxe5 21.a3 Qb6 22.Na4 Qa5 23.dxe5 Qxa4 24.Qc5 Bf8 25.Qf2 Qa5 26.b4 Qb6 27.Rd4 Bc2 28.Ra2 Bb3 29.Rad2 Bd5 30.f5 Qc7 31.Bf6 Rh6 32.Qg3.

Shirov' last move, 32.Qf2-g3, was a major blunder. Can you see what Anand played to force his immediate resignation? You will find the solution in our JavaScript replay.


The setup during the blindfold games in Monaco

Vladimir Kramnik played a lesser known set-up against Vassily Ivanchuk’s Sicilian Defense in their blindfold game, and professed puzzlement that he was unable to guess any moves of his opponent. In one case it didn't matter, it worked in his favour.

Kramnik,V (2754) – Ivanchuk,V (2711) [B41]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (1), 19.03.2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Qd3 d5 8.exd5 exd5 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 dxc4 11.Qxc4 Ba5 12.Rd1 b5 13.Qb3 b4 14.Na4 Re8 15.Bg5 Qe7 16.Bxf6.

How to recapture? Ivanchuk goes for 16...gxf6? after which White has 17.Qd5, forking the Ba5 and Ra8. If Black had recaptured with the queen he would have had good counterplay with 16...Qxf6 17.Qd5 Bd7 18.Qxa5 (18.Qxa8 Bxa4) 18...Nc6, because 19.Nxc6 is met with 19...Rxe2, threatening mate with ...Qxf2 and winning. 17...Bc7 18.Qxa8 Bb7 19.Qa7 Nc6 20.Qc5 Nxd4 21.Qxe7 Nxe2+ 22.Qxe2 Rxe2 23.Re1 Rd2 24.Rad1 Rc2 25.Rc1 Rxc1 26.Rxc1 Be5 27.b3 Bd5 28.Rc5 Be4 29.Ra5 Bd3 30.Nc5 Be2 31.Nxa6 Bc3 32.Nc7 Kg7 33.Nd5 Bd2 34.Ra8 1-0.

Birthday boy Ivanchuk took terrible revenge in their rapid game, where he outplayed Kramnik in a Sveshnikov full of subtle and pointed manoeuvres.

Round two

Alexei Shirov and Vladimir Kramnik are barely on talking terms, and there is a great rivalry between the two, ever since Shirov beat Kramnik in a candidate's match for the world championship back in 1998 (the final against Kasparov never took place). In round two Kramnik was able to win their mini-match 1½ to ½.


Bitter rivals: Alexei Shirov of Spain and Vladimir Kramnik of Russia

Shirov,A (2713) – Kramnik,V (2754) [C26]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (2), 20.03.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 Nxd5 5.Bg2 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Nc6 7.Ne2 Be6 8.0-0 Bd5 9.d3 Bxg2 10.Kxg2 Qd5+ 11.f3 0-0-0 12.c4 Qe6 13.Be3 Bb4 14.Rb1 f5 15.Rb3 b6 16.c5 Bxc5 17.Bxc5 bxc5 18.Rb5 c4 19.Rc5 Nb4 20.Qd2 cxd3 21.Qxb4 dxe2.

22.Rb1? 22.Re1 e4 23.Rxe2 offered more resistance. Now watch Vladimir Kramnik work out the tactics without a board to look at. 22...Qb6 23.Rb5 Rd1 24.Rxb6 axb6 25.Kf2 e1B+ (a humourous touch – promotes to a bishop) 26.Qxe1 Rxe1 27.Rxe1 Re8 28.g4 fxg4 29.fxg4 Kd7 30.Re3 Rf8+ 31.Ke2 Rf4 32.h3 Kd6 33.Rd3+ Rd4 34.Rf3 Re4+ 35.Kd2 Rf4 36.Re3 b5 37.Ke2 Kd5 38.Rb3 c6 39.a3 e4 0-1.


But he has his eyes open! Vladimir Kramnik during a blindfold game

Kramnik,V (2754) – Shirov,A (2713) [C80]
Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC (2), 20.03.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 d4 11.Bxe6 Nxe6 12.cxd4 Ncxd4 13.a4 Bb4 14.axb5 Nxf3+ 15.Nxf3 axb5 16.Rxa8 Qxa8 17.Ng5 Qc6 18.Qg4 Qc4 19.Qf5 Nd8 20.Rd1 Qc6 21.Nxh7 Be7

White is clearly wining and should continue with 22.Bg5. Now if 22...g6 White has 23.Qc8 Bxg5 (23...Rxh7?? 24.Qxd8+ Bxd8 25.Rxd8#) 24.Nxg5 and an easy win. But Kramnik chose to play into the self-pin 22.Qh5? Now the move 22...g6 is playable, with the continuation 23.Qh3 Ne6 24.Be3 Qc2 and now in fact Black is clearly better 25.Rc1 Qxb2 26.f4 Qa3 27.Kf2 Qa2+ 28.Kf1 and instead of trying for a win with 28...b4 Shirov chose to repeat moves. 28...Qa3 29.Kf2 Qa2+ 30.Kf1 Qa3 draw.

Anand – ah, Anand – once again won both games, this time against the world's number three Veselin Topalov, chalking up the dry score of 4-0 so far in this event.


Bad start for Veselin Topalov in Monaco

Anand,V (2786) – Topalov,V (2757) [C67]
Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC (2), 20.03.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 h6 10.h3 Bd7 11.Bf4 Kc8 12.Rad1 b6 13.Rd3 Be6 14.Rfd1 Kb7 15.b3 g5 16.Bc1 c5 17.Nd5 Ne7 18.Nxe7 Bxe7 19.c4 Rag8 20.Nd2 g4 21.hxg4 Rxg4 22.Nf1 Rhg8 23.Rg3 h5 24.Re1 a6 25.Rxg4 hxg4 26.Rd1 Kc6 27.Bf4 Rd8 28.Rxd8 Bxd8 29.Ne3 b5 30.Kf1 bxc4 31.bxc4 Kb6 32.Ke2 Ka5 33.Kd3 c6 34.f3 gxf3 35.gxf3 Ka4 36.Bh6 Ka3 37.f4 Kxa2 38.Kc2 f5 39.Bf8 Bb6 40.Be7 a5 41.Bh4 a4 42.Be1 Bd8 43.Nd1 Ka3 44.Nb2 Be7

Anand is a pawn down and playing for a draw. But he sees a chance and sets up a cunning little trap: 45.Bc3! Veselin Topalov falls for it: 45...Bf8?? and Anand is able to deliver a forced mate. You will find the closing sequence in our JavaScript replay.


Winning everything: Vishy Anand with wife Aruna

Loek van Wely pressed hard against Evgeny Bareev in their blindfold game, and came close to winning. In the rapid game the wry and enigmatic Bareev took the initiative, and when Loek grabbed a poisoned pawn his fate was terribly sealed.

Bareev,E (2709) – Van Wely,L (2679) [D72]
Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC (2), 20.03.2005
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nb6 7.Ne2 c5 8.d5 e6 9.0-0 exd5 10.exd5 0-0 11.Nec3 Na6 12.Nd2 Bf5 13.Nde4 Qd7 14.Qb3 Bh3 15.Bxh3 Qxh3 16.Be3 c4 17.Qb5 Nc7 18.Qa5 Qf5 19.Rad1 Rfd8 20.Bxb6 axb6 21.Qxb6 Bxc3 22.Nxc3 Nxd5 23.Nxd5 Rxd5 24.Qxb7 Rad8 25.Rxd5 Rxd5 26.Qb8+ Kg7 27.Qb4 Qc2 28.a4 Rd3 29.Re1 Rb3 30.Qc5.

To take or not to take? Loek van Wely couldn't resist: 30...Rxb2?? 31.Qd4+! Kh6 (31...Kg8 is impossible because of 32.Re8#) 32.Re4 (threatening 33.Rh4 and mate) 32...f6 33.Rh4+ and the two play on until one move before the mate: 33...Kg7 34.Qd7+ Kf8 35.Qd8+ Kg7 36.Qe7+ Kg8 37.Qxh7+ Kf8 38.Qh8+ Kf7 39.Rh7+ Ke6 40.Qc8+ Ke5 41.Qc5+ Ke4 42.Rh4+ 1-0.


Unlucky Loek van Wely

If you have survived our extensive report, and if you are in fact craving for more, we recommend that you go to the extensive round-by-round reports on the official page. The links are given below.

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