Amber: Anand steams on, Vallejo beats Kramnik

3/25/2005 – After a rest day of exquisite meals and laser shoot-up games round five of the blindfold-rapid chess tournament in Monaco saw Anand winning his mini-match against Ivanchuk with 1½-½ to take a 2½ point lead over the field. The sensation came when bottom seed Francisco Vallejo defeated Vladimir Kramnik in their blindfold game. 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.

Please note that the selection of games discussed below can all be replayed on our JavaScript board. Clicking on the link behind each game opens a separate window which you can position next to the text (and keep open for the next game). To follow the moves and analysis you can use the navigation buttons below the board or simply click on the notation.

Round five

Wednesday was a free day in Monaco. Some of the players used it to catch up on sleep and basking next to the pool, others took part in the outings organised by the Max Euwe Association.

One such event, which was attended by a surprising number of participants, was lunch at the restaurant of Master Chef Jean-François Issautier, the proud owner of no less than two Michelin stars.

Between one and three stars can be given by the Michelin Guide to restaurants, one already making a restaurant "legendary". Losing a star can ruin a restaurant.

The Michelin stars are one of the most snobbish awards in the universe.

After the meal there was a visit to the Laser Game in Nice, where players are paired up as two-men star shooters teams, who try to kill everyone else with "laser" handguns. Many years ago we remember the players at the Tilburg tournament doing the same. At the time it was Judit Polgar who was a class of her own, as star shooter Garry Kasparov freely admitted. In Nice it was Peter Leko's wife Sofie, who was the most agile and vicious killer. Evgeny Bareev came in a close second.

In the evening there was (another) fine dinner at the Monte Carlo Cabaret, in one of the wings of the world famous Casino, and after that an exciting show called Spirit of the Dance, in which according to the tournament report "fifteen ultra-fit boys and girls dancing their hearts and lungs out to pumping music." Unfortunately no pictures are provided. Booo!


Star shooters: Sofie and Peter Leko

Blindfold
Bareev-Svidler 0-1
Gelfand-Morozevich 1/2
Van Wely-Leko 1/2
Kramnik-Vallejo 0-1
Ivanchuk-Anand 1/2
Shirov-Topalov 1/2
Rapid
Svidler-Bareev 1/2
Morozevich-Gelfand 0-1
Leko-Van Wely 1/2
Vallejo-Kramnik 1/2
Anand-Ivanchuk 1-0
Topalov-Shirov 1-0

The chess resumed on Thursday afternoon, with same old same old. Vishy Anand continued his own private star shooter thing, dismantling veteran Vassily Ivanchuk by 1½-½ and increasing his lead over the mortals in this tournament by 2½ points. Peter Svidler scored likewise against Evgeny Bareev (who should give serious thought to the Laser Game) to move into second place. Svidler and Bareev are friends, both having assisted Vladimir Kramnik in his classical chess world championship match against Peter Leko. But if you play through their blindfold game you will see that friendship ends at the tournament board.

Loek van Wely had a good chance to take a point off Peter Leko in their blindfold game (31.Nf7+ and 32.Nd6 wins an exchange). After that he came close to losing, but managed to hold a draw. The rapid game was also drawn. Boris Gelfand beat Alexander Morozevich in their rapid game after drawing in the blindfold. Veselin Topalov won his first game in Amber 2005, beating Shirov in their rapid encounter. Their blindfold game was a draw.


Vladimir Kramnik in his blindfold game against Francisco Vallejo

The sensation of the round was the black piece victory by Francisco ("Paco") Vallejo over third seed Vladimir Kramnik. Vallejo had just lost four games in succession and decided to play the rare Löwenthal Variation.


Paco Vallejo in full concentration mode

Kramnik,V (2754) - Vallejo Pons,F (2686) [B32]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (5), 24.03.2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 a6 6.Nd6+ Bxd6 7.Qxd6 Qf6 8.Qd1 Qg6 9.Nc3 Nge7 10.h4 h5 11.Rh3 d5 12.Rg3 Bg4 13.f3 dxe4 14.fxg4 Rd8 15.Bd2 f5 16.Re3 hxg4 17.Kf2?

The last white move was a mistake, since Black can win the game with 17...Qf6! threatening devastating 18...f4 with the rook unable to retreat because of mate (e.g. 19.Re1 Qxh4+ 20.Kg1 Qh2+ 21.Kf2 g3+ 22.Ke2 Nd4#). White has no proper defence. But Vallejo missed the chance and played 17...Rxh4, which it turned out was also enough to win: 18.Rc1 Qd6 19.Ke1 Rh1 20.Qe2 Nd4 21.Qf2 f4 22.Nxe4 Qg6 23.Ng3 fxg3 24.Rxg3 Qe4+ 25.Kd1 Nef5 26.Rd3 g3 0-1.

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