The 16th edition of the annual Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament is being held from March 17 to 29 at the Fairmont Monte Carlo Hotel in Monaco, with a total prize fund of € 216,000 (US $288,000). On each day of play there are two rounds, one a blindfold session and the second rapid chess.
Results of round nine: Tuesday March 27
The blindfold game between Magnus Carlsen and Vladimir Kramnik ended in a draw after 26 moves, with just a rook and two pawns on either side off the board. After the game Kramnik said that he had started to lose pieces in his memory, not knowing exactly where they were. In the rapid game this was of course not the case, and the world champion introduced an interesting novelty (14.axb5) in a Botvinnik Slav and his young Norwegian opponent was totally lost. It was quite suprising that Kramnik used this valuable novelty in an unrated rapid game.
Kramnik struggling to remember where the pieces are
Armenian GM Levon Aronian won a seemingly effortless blindfold game against Vishy Anand, but the Indian player, who will be ranked the world's number one in a few days, struck back in their rapid encounter, a Marshall Gambit of the Ruy Lopez which Anand had prepared up to move 25.
An indisposed Peter Leko facing the relaxed Vassily Ivanchuk
Peter Leko lost his blindfold game against Vassily Ivanchuk, who remains in second place with Anand. Leko has not been well and it is obvious to anyone that he is in poor physical condition. Boris Gelfand played a very fine blindfold game against Teimour Radjabov.
Gelfand,B (2733) - Radjabov,T (2729) [A48]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (9), 27.03.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bg5 Bg7 4.Nbd2 d6 5.e4 h6 6.Bh4 g5 7.Bg3 Nh5 8.c3 e6 9.Ng1 Nxg3 10.hxg3 e5 11.dxe5 Bxe5 12.Ngf3 Bg7 13.Bb5+ c6 14.Be2 0-0 15.Nc4 Qe7 16.Qxd6 Qxe4 17.Ne3 Qe6 18.0-0-0 Qxa2 19.Bc4 Qa1+ 20.Kc2 Qa4+ 21.Kb1 b5
It never ceases to amaze that these players can "see" through complications like the above without the anchor of looking at the current position on board. Gelfand comes up with a stylish finish (although 22.Nd4 is also very strong): 22.Rxh6 bxc4 23.Rdh1 Re8 24.Nxg5 Be6 25.Rxe6 fxe6 26.Qc7 1-0.
Results of round ten: Wednesday March 28
|Van Wely-Vallejo||1-0||Vallejo-Van Wely||
In the penultimate round of the Amber Tournament the leaders, Kramnik, Anand and Ivanchuk drew both games to maintain their positions unchanged on the tables. Ivanchuk and Gelfand drew both their games to keep their positions as well, especially in view of the 1-1 score between Morozevich and Carlsen, and Peter Svidler's two draws (against Kramnik). So everything remains unchanged at the top of the overall table.
Aronian (in his tradmark white) faltering in the blindfold against Radjabov
... and three moves from a meltdown on move six of the rapid game
The only dramatic change came from the encounter Radjabov-Aronian. Their blindfold game was a long struggle that Teimour Radjabov clinched after 69 moves. In their rapid game Aronian suffered a meltdown:
Aronian,L (2744) - Radjabov,T (2729) [D00]
Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC (10), 28.03.2007
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 d5 3.e3 c6 4.Bd3 Bg4 5.Ne2 Nbd7 6.c4??
The official bulletin puts it poignantly: "Aronian lost the rapid game thanks to the saddest blunder so far, even sadder than some of the accidents we’ve seen in the blindfold. After six (!) moves, with full sight of the board, the Armenian grandmaster blundered a full piece. He didn’t resign right away, but obviously the verdict could no longer be changed. Aronian didn’t have an explanation for his oversight, except for the fact that after Wijk aan Zee and Morelia-Linares he feels drained of energy. Or as he put it himself, ‘My brain is melting down after so many tournaments.’"
6...dxc4 7.Bxc4 Qa5+ (forking the bishop on g5) 8.Nbc3 Bxe2 9.Kxe2 Qxg5 and Black is simply a piece down. 10.Qb3 e6 11.Qxb7 Rb8 12.Qxc6 Rxb2+ 13.Kf1 Be7 14.Bb3 Qf5 15.Nd1 Rd2 16.Qa8+ Bd8 17.Qf3 Qd3+ 18.Kg1 Re2 19.h3 h5 20.Qc6 Re1+ 21.Kh2 Ng4+ 22.hxg4 hxg4+ 23.Kg3 Rexh1 24.Bc2 Bh4+ 25.Kf4 g5+ 0-1.
Magnus Carlsen (right) enjoying a blitz game with his trainer Peter Heine Nielsen
Vishy Anand, after ten rounds joint second with Ivanchuk
Peter Svidler, running in fourth place
Spain's top GM Francisco ("Paco") Vallejo
What Monte Carlo is famous for: luxury yachts...
...and very (believe us!) expensive sports cars
For people who need to get somewhere very expensively
If you need to ask how much you cannot afford this one
Rapid chess games
Tomorrow (Friday) is the final round of the tournament, and it will start at 12.30h local time. Kramnik is leading by two points in the overall standings, so he can be theoretically caught by Ivanchuk and Anand (if these players win both their games and Kramnik loses his). Both Kramnik and Anand are "uncatchable" in the blindfold and rapid sections. Since we will be publishing a full final double round table, flags and all, we adivse our readers to get a monitor with higher resolution in time for the report.