Amber: Carlsen scores a fourth 2-0 knock-out

3/20/2010 – Apparently nothing can stop the world's highest-ranked player. In round six of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament Magnus Carlsen dispatched Boris Gelfand, who had won his four previous games, with a 2-0 score. Carlsen is now alone in the lead. Dutch GM Jan Smeets won his first game in Nice – against Vladimir Kramnik in blindfold. Round six report with video interviews.

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The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament, organized by the Association Max Euwe in Monaco, is taking place from March 13 (first round) to March 25 (last round) at the Palais de la Mediterranée, splendidly located on the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The total prize fund is € 216,000.

Every day four sessions will be played, two blindfold sessions and two rapid sessions. The first session starts at 14.30 hrs. The fourth session finishes around 20.00 hrs. Note: the final round on March 25 starts at 12.30 hrs. March 17 and 22 are rest days. 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.

Fourth 2-0 knock-out brings Magnus Carlsen back on top again

Blindfold Chess Round six   Rapid Chess Round six
Ivanchuk-Ponomariov ½-½   Ponomariov-Ivanchuk ½-½
Svidler-Grischuk 0-1   Grischuk-Svidler ½-½
Karjakin-Dominguez 1-0   Dominguez-Karjakin 0-1
Aronian-Gashimov 1.0   Gashimov-Aronian ½-½
Smeets-Kramnik 1-0   Kramnik-Smeets 1-0
Carlsen-Gelfand 1-0   Gelfand-Carlsen 0-1

In Round six of the Amber Tournament, Magnus Carlsen regained the lead in the overall standings. In a gripping clash, the Norwegian defeated Boris Gelfand 2-0 and overtook former leader Vasily Ivanchuk from Ukraine, who had to settle for two draws against his compatriot Ruslan Ponomariov. The gap between the front-runners is widening. Third place is shared by Boris Gelfand, Alexander Grischuk and Vladimir Kramnik, two full points behind Carlsen and one and a half points behind Ivanchuk. After twelve games Carlsen has not yet drawn a single game, winning nine and losing three.

Carlsen-Gelfand: Magnus Carlsen was pleased with the way he had played the blindfold game against Boris Gelfand. He obtained nothing from the opening, but said he enjoyed working to create something from nothing. The ‘something’ was in the air when he finally could play 37.Ne5 and when that same knight struck on g6 one move later it was clear that White was on to something. The game was essentially decided when Carlsen played 41.g4, after which he assessed the position as ‘very bad to lost for Black’. Ten moves later he concluded the game with mate and notched up his first point after his winning streak was interrupted in yesterday’s rapid game. ‘Six more to go’, he grinned.

The rapid game also ended in a win for Carlsen, but what a fight it was. In a King’s Indian he ended up with a worse position and could only breathe again when Gelfand made a mistake with 24.Nxc5, giving Black a nice outpost for his knight on d6. The remainder of the game was a demonstration of Carlsen’s magnificent fighting spirit. Many a player would have been tempted to go for a draw when it was there for the taking, but he rather played for a win skirting the precipice. Gelfand certainly missed various ways to draw, but Carlsen’s courage prevailed when under great pressure he managed to deal the decisive blow.

Gelfand,B (2750) - Carlsen,M (2813) [E92]
19th Amber Rapid Nice FRA (6), 19.03.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.Be3 c6 8.d5 Na6 9.0-0 Ng4 10.Bg5 f6 11.Bh4 c5 12.Ne1 h5 13.a3 Qe7 14.Nd3 b6 15.h3 Nh6 16.f4 g5 17.fxg5 fxg5 18.Rxf8+ Bxf8 19.Bf2 g4 20.h4 Nf7 21.g3 Bh6 22.b4 Bd7 23.bxc5 Nxc5 24.Nxc5 dxc5 25.a4 Rf8 26.a5 Qf6 27.Qe1 Nd6 28.Ra2 Bc1 29.axb6 axb6 30.Bxc5 bxc5 31.Qxc1 Qf2+ 32.Kh1 Qxg3 33.Qg5+ Kf7 34.Ra7 Qh3+ 35.Kg1 Qg3+ 36.Kh1

36...Ke8. Avoiding the repetition, playing for a win. 37.Qg6+ Rf7 38.Qg8+? A miscalculation. 38.Ra8+ would have held the draw. 38...Ke7 39.Qg5+ Kf8 40.Ra8+ Nc8 41.Rxc8+ Bxc8 42.Qd8+ Kg7 43.Qg5+ Kh7 44.Qxh5+ Kg8 45.Qg5+ Rg7 46.Qd8+ Kh7.

No more checks. 47.Qxc8 Rf7 48.Qxg4 Rf1+ 49.Bxf1 Qxg4 50.d6 Qf3+ 0-1.

Aronian-Gashimov: Levon Aronian arrived for his blindfold game against Vugar Gashimov in an impeccable white suit, white shoes, and black shirt to match the white jacket and black shirt of his opponent. After the game he admitted jokingly that this had been part of his strategy: "That’s why I only put it on shortly before the game. I didn’t want him to see my novelty." As expected Gashimov defended himself with his pet Benoni, but apparently he wasn’t very familiar with the old sideline that Aronian played. "And it’s a big disadvantage in rapid and blindfold if you’re not familiar with a line and your opponent is", the Armenian explained. After 38 moves Gashimov threw the towel.

In the rapid game Aronian defended with the Berlin Defence, which these days is more often called the Berlin Wall. The opening served him well, as Aronian, who lives in Berlin, was better throughout the game. In the end it was not enough when Gashimov forced a draw by a repetition of moves.

A beaming Jan Smeets walked into the hospitality lounge after he had won the blindfold game against Vladimir Kramnik. Not only had he beaten the former world champion in an excellent game, he had also won his first game in his Amber debut. As in their game in Wijk aan Zee, Kramnik relied on the Pirc Defence. That game he won, but this time things went different. Smeets had chosen a sharp line, and although he admitted that he didn’t remember all the ins and outs he felt at ease. Kramnik tried to invade the white position with an avalanche of pieces, but he couldn’t avoid that his knights became unstuck. As a result White won a piece for a couple of pawns, but this compensation was not enough for Black. Smeets’ main concern was that he would end up in this traditional time-trouble and blunder something. The time-trouble he couldn’t avoid entirely, but for the rest he kept a clear head, picked up a pawn here and there and forced Kramnik’s surrender on move 41.

Kramnik hit back in the rapid game, but only after a gritty fight from both sides. The opening put Black under pressure, although Smeets didn’t worry too much. Looking for a speedy kill Kramnik sacrificed a piece with 32.Bxh6, but it was questionable if he objectively made much progress with this investment. He did when Smeets steered for an endgame with 34…Qe8, wrongly assessing the following developments. The Dutch grandmaster had assumed that his a-pawn would be a strong trump, but when it didn’t move that fast, his opponent’s pawns became truly menacing.

Karjakin-Dominguez: Sergey Karjakin and Leineir Dominguez discussed the merits of a Be3-Najdorf with Black playing an early h5 in their blindfold game. This discussion will no doubt continue in future games, but once the principled fight between Black’s queenside ambitions and White’s kingside ambitions came to a head, the pawn on h5 was more of a liability than an asset. The game turned sour for Black when he played 29…Nxc6? Which soon had him in insurmountable problems. Instead, he might have fought on with 29…Nxg4 30.Qxg4 f5 31.Re2 fxg4 32.Rxg2.

The rapid game saw an Exchange Slav in which Karjakin tried to stir up complications. His attempts bore fruit when Dominguez erred with19.h3, allowing the strong 19…Bb5. The Cuban took the wisest decision and sacrificed the exchange, leaving Black with a slightly better position, but no tangible advantage. But the game was far from over and in mutual time-trouble Karjakin kept looking for his chances. In the end he was successful when Dominguez let himself be tricked and dropped a piece.


Player portraits

Sergey Karjakin - Russia, Elo rating: 2725, World ranking: 21, born January 12, 1990, Amber highlights: In his second Amber in 2009 he finished in 7th place. [Photo John Nunn]

Sergey Karjakin has come to Nice for the third time, but it is the first time that he is playing under the Russian flag (and as a married man!). Last year the Ukrainian-born grandmaster made a remarkable career move when he decided that henceforth he’d represent Russia. With the support of the Russian Chess Federation he moved to Moscow and he also ‘completed’ his team. Assisted by Kasparov’s former coach Yury Dokhoian and Russia’s team coach Alexander Motylev, Karjakin can now safely be called one of the best organized grandmasters around.

Although he’s ‘already’ twenty years old and may call himself by rights a top grandmaster for quite some time already, Karjakin often continues to be billed as the youngest grandmaster of all time. Which is understandable, as he holds a unique record. He was only twelve years and seven months old when in 2002 he earned the highest chess title.

Karjakin was born in Simferopol in the Crimea on January 12, 1990, and he was five years old when he learned to play chess. He won countless junior championships in his own country and in 2001 he became U-12 Junior World Champion in Oropesa del Mar, Spain. As undeniable proof of his countrymen’s respect for his chess strength, Ruslan Ponomariov invited the 12-year-old prodigy as a second for his World Championship match against Vasily Ivanchuk in the winter of 2002.

Within a few years’ time Karjakin has grown into an experienced grandmaster. In 2004 he was one of the pillars of the Ukrainian team that claimed gold at the Calvia Olympiad. His score of 6,5 out of 7 on Board 4 was the best individual performance of the event. Two years later, in Turin, the Ukrainians had to settle for a more modest result, but Karjakin again chalked up one of the highest scores. His best individual result so far he had last year in Wijk aan Zee where he won the Corus tournament. At the end of 2009 he also played excellent chess in the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. Before he was knocked out in the semi-finals by Gelfand, he eliminated a.o. Timofeev, Navara and Mamedyarov.

Karjakin made his Amber debut two years ago thanks to his best score on the Rising Stars team at the 2007 NH Chess Tournament in Amsterdam. His first performance, ninth overall, was decent, but it came as no surprise that he improved on that result last year when he finished in 7th place. No doubt the ambitious youngster is aiming for more this time.



Kramnik on his new openings and tries in Amber [video reports by Europe Echecs]


Kramnik on Karpov's candidacy for FIDE presidency, and the state of the chess world


Standings after the sixth round (official)

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1.  Carlsen    5    
2. Grischuk 4½
3. Ivanchuk 4
4. Gelfand 3½
Karjakin 3½
6. Ponomariov 3
7. Aronian 2½
Gashimov 2½
Kramnik 2½
Svidler 2½
11. Smeets 2
12. Dominguez ½
 
1.  Ivanchuk   4½
Kramnik 4½
3. Carlsen 4
4. Gelfand 3½
Svidler 3½
6. Gashimov 3
Karjakin 3
8. Aronian 2½
Grischuk 2½
Ponomariov 2½
11. Dominguez 1½
12. Smeets 1
 
1.  Carlsen    9    
2. Ivanchuk 8½
3. Gelfand 7
Grischuk 7
Kramnik 7
6. Karjakin 6½
7. Svidler 6
8. Gashimov 5½
Ponomariov 5½
10. Aronian 5
11. Smeets 3
12. Dominguez 2

Cross table


Nice as in Niece


The beach front in Nice – it will come as a shock to some that the town is pronounce
"Niece" (as in the daughter of a sibling). On the other hand it is really a very nice place.


A lone swimmer in water temperatures of 14°C (57°F)


The city and its yacht harbour – the area of today’s Nice is believed to be among
the oldest human settlements in the world.

Photos by Nadja Wittmann

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 2010
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