Melody Amber: Aronian leads by a full point

3/23/2008 – After seven rounds of the Blindfold and Rapid event Levon Aronian has 9.0/14 points, one more than Vishy Anand, who is in second place. Anand had some problems in his round six blindfold, but pulled off a convincing victory anyway. Others were not that lucky. Then again Anand suffered his first ever defeat against Magnus Carlsen in round seven. Illustrated report with video links.

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The seventeenth Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament is taking place from March 15 to 27 in the Palais de la Mediterranée, Nice, France. Twelve leading grandmasters play blindfold and rapid chess games against each other. The prize fund is a massive 216,000 Euro (currently US $336,000). The sponsor is Dutch billionaire Joop Van Oosterom.


The famous and beautiful beach front in Nice, which rhymes with Reese (Witherspoon)


Monte Carlo, where the Amber tournament was previously held, has its Formula One races, Nice has its International Hopscotch Championship. Actually the tourists are doing stretch exercises during a jog on the beach front.

Report after round seven

Round six: Blindfold Chess   Round six: Rapid Chess
Karjakin-Anand 0-1   Anand-Karjakin ½-½
Aronian-Mamedyarov ½-½   Mamedyarov-Aronian ½-½
Carlsen-Topalov ½-½   Topalov-Carlsen ½-½
Ivanchuk-Leko ½-½   Leko-Ivanchuk ½-½
Van Wely-Morozevich 0-1   Morozevich-Van Wely ½-½
Gelfand-Kramnik ½-½   Kramnik-Gelfand ½-½

Karjakin,Sergey (2732) - Anand,V (2799) [B90]
Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (6), 21.03.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e5

A first crisis occurred in this game when Sergey Karjakin played 7.Nf3. The players are entering their moves on a notebook, the opponent sees them in algebraic notation next to an empty chessboard (only the last move is displayed). Anand misread Karjakin's move as 7.Nb3 and played on with the wrong position in his mind!

7...Be6. Attacking the phantom knight on b3. 8.Ng5. Did Karjakin move his knight from b3 to g5?! Oops, Anand recognises his mistake. Happily it has no serious consequences. 8...Nc6 9.Nxe6 fxe6 10.Bc4 Qd7 11.a4 Be7 12.0-0 Rc8 13.Qe2 0-0 14.Rad1 Bd8 15.f4 exf4 16.Bxf4 Bb6+ 17.Kh1 Bd4 18.Bb3 Kh8 19.h3 Be5 20.Bxe5 Nxe5 21.Rd4 Qe7 22.Rfd1?

White has moved his rook away from the f-file and Black has a killer: 22...Nfg4! 23.Kg1. After 23.hxg4 Qh4+ Black at least loses his queen. At this stage Anand was confronted with a second problem: he considered 23...Nf2 but could not remember if his rook was on f8 or not. If it wasn't then the intended move would simply drop a piece. The world champion decided not to risk it and played the safer 23...Rf2. In a blindfold game making an illegal move does not have dire consequences – one simply has to make another, legal one. Anand's move was legal and crushing: 24.Qxf2 Nxf2 25.Kxf2 Rd8 26.Kg1 g5 27.Ne2 g4 28.hxg4 Nxg4 29.e5 Qh4 0-1.


Rapid chess game between Veselin Topalov and Magnus Carlsen

In their blindfold game Magnus Carlsen was lost against Veselin Topalov, but pulled off a miracle save with three pawns against Topalov's knight and pawn. In their rapid chess encounter things turned out similarly:

Topalov,V (2780) - Carlsen,M (2733) [E00]
Amber Rapid Nice FRA (6), 21.03.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Bb4+ 4.Nd2 d5 5.Bg2 0-0 6.Qc2 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Ngf3 Nc6 9.0-0 d4 10.Nb3 Be7 11.Rd1 e5 12.e3 Bg4 13.exd4 e4 14.Ng5 Bxd1 15.Qxd1 a5 16.a4 Re8 17.Nxe4 Nxe4 18.Bxe4 Bf6 19.Bd5 Rc8 20.Bd2 Bxd4 21.Nxd4 Nxd4 22.Bxa5 Qxa5 23.Qxd4 Re1+ 24.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 25.Kg2 Qb4

26.Bxf7+! Later Carlsen confessed that he had completely missed this move. 26...Kh8. 26...Kxf7 27.Qd7+ wins the rook. Now Black is essentially lost, but once again the young Norwegian defends tenaciously and pulls off another Great Escape. 27.Bd5 Qxa4 28.Qg4 Rf8 29.Bxb7 Qb4 30.Bf3 Qxb2 31.c5 Qc3 32.c6 g6 33.h4 Qf6 34.h5 gxh5 35.Qxh5 Rf7 36.Qg4 Rf8 37.Qe4 Rf7 38.Qe3 Kg7 39.Be4 Qe5 40.Qe2 Rc7 41.Qg4+ Kf8 42.Qh4 Qd6 43.Qh5 Qf6 44.Qd5 Kg7 45.g4 h6 46.Kg3 Qc3+ 47.Kg2 Qf6 48.Bf3 Rf7 49.Qd3 Qf4 50.Qc3+ Kh7 51.Qd3+ Kg7 52.Qe2 Qf6 53.Bd5 Re7 54.Qc4 Qe5 55.Qd3 Qf6 56.Qg3 Qd4 57.Bf3 Qc5 58.Qb8 Qc3 59.Bd5 Qc5 60.Qg8+ Kf6 61.Qh8+ Kg6 62.Bf3 Qe5 63.Qg8+ Rg7 64.Qh8 Re7 65.Qf8 Rc7 66.Qd8 Qe7 67.Qg8+ Kf6 68.Qd5 Kg7 69.Be4 Qf6 draw. This young man keeps demonstrating all the qualities of a future world champion. One important one is stubborn, never-say-die defence – make your opponent actually win a winning position, and give him every opportunity to go astray.

The blindfold game Ivanchuk-Leko saw a similar escape by the Hungarian, who was two pawns down but managed to survive.

Ivanchuk,V (2751) - Leko,P (2753) [E20]
Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (6), 21.03.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 Nc6 5.Bg5 d5 6.e3 0-0 7.Rc1 Be7 8.c5 e5 9.Bb5 exd4 10.exd4 Ng4 11.Bf4 g5 12.Bxc7 Qxc7 13.fxg4 Rd8 14.Nh3 Be6 15.Qd2 Bxg4 16.Nf2 Be6 17.0-0 h6 18.a3 Bf8 19.b4 Bg7 20.Ne2 f5 21.Rce1 Qf7 22.Bxc6 bxc6 23.Nd3 Rf8 24.Ne5 Qe8 25.Nc3 f4 26.Rf2 Bf5 27.b5 cxb5 28.Nxd5 Rd8 29.Nc7 Qe7 30.Nxb5 Qf6 31.Nxa7 Kh7 32.Nac6 Rc8 33.d5 Ra8

In a regular game Vassily Ivanchuk would win this position with his eyes closed – wait a minute, what are we saying? Anyway, in the blindfold Melody Amber game Leko was able to hold him to a draw. 34.d6 Rxa3 35.d7 Raa8 36.Rfe2 g4 37.Qxf4 Bxd7 38.Qxf6 Rxf6 39.Ne7 Bb5 40.Re4 Raf8 41.g3 Rf1+ 42.Rxf1 Rxf1+ 43.Kg2 Rc1 44.Nf5 Rxc5 45.Nxg7 Kxg7 46.Rxg4+ Kf6 47.Nf3 Bc6 48.Rf4+ Kg6 49.Rg4+ draw.

Gelfand,B (2737) - Kramnik,V (2799) [D11]
Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (6), 21.03.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.h3 Bxf3 6.Qxf3 e6 7.Nc3 Nbd7 8.Bd2 Bb4 9.Bd3 0-0 10.a3 Ba5 11.0-0 Re8 12.b4 Bc7 13.cxd5 exd5 14.b5 Nf8 15.bxc6 bxc6 16.Qd1 Ne6 17.Qa4 c5 18.Nb5 Bb6 19.dxc5 Nxc5 20.Qc2 Nfe4 21.Bb4 Nxd3 22.Qxd3 Qd7 23.Nc3 Qe6

In this position Kramnik was expecting his opponent to play 24...Nxe4 and intended to offer a draw after this move had been made. However, Gelfand made a "fingerfehler": 24.Qxe4?? This of course loses the queen and the game. However: Vladmir Kramnik did not wish to win in such a manner and offered the draw anyway. "What a gentleman!" Gelfand was heard to say. Draw.



Round seven: Blindfold Chess   Round seven: Rapid Chess
Morozevich-Ivanchuk 1-0   Ivanchuk-Morozevich ½-½
Kramnik-Van Wely ½-½   Van Wely-Kramnik ½-½
Leko-Gelfand ½-½   Gelfand-Leko ½-½
Mamedyarov-Karjakin ½-½   Karjakin-Mamedyarov ½-½
Topalov-Aronian ½-½   Aronian-Topalov 1-0
Anand-Carlsen 1-0   Carlsen-Anand 1-0

Vishy Anand won his blindfold game against Magnus Carlsen with consumate ease, continuing the pattern of picking up points from the talented Norwegian. However their rapid chess game broke the spell and 17-year-old Magnus scored his first ever win over the world champion. He did this running his clock down to one minute, while Anand sat on 16 minutes of remaining time. Here is the historic game:

Carlsen,M (2733) - Anand,V (2799) [A20]
Amber Rapid Nice FRA (7), 22.03.2008
1.c4 e5 2.g3 c6 3.d4 e4 4.d5 Nf6 5.Bg2 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qe7 7.Nc3 0-0 8.a3 Bc5 9.e3 d6 10.Nge2 cxd5 11.Nxd5 Nxd5 12.cxd5 Nd7 13.0-0 Nf6 14.Bc3 Bg4 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.b4 Bb6 17.Bxe4 a5 18.bxa5 Rxa5

19.Bxh7+! Anand overlooked this petite combinaison, which nets Carlsen a second pawn. With a little bit of wavering he took the full point. Kxh7 20.Qb1+ g6 21.Qxb6 Rfa8 22.Qd4 Qf3 23.Nc3 Re8 24.h3 Bf5 25.Qf6 Kg8 26.Rab1 Rxe3 27.Rxb7 Bc8 28.Qd8+ Kg7 29.Qxc8 Rxc3 30.Rxf7+ Kxf7 31.Qd7+ Kf6 32.Qd8+ Kf5 33.Qxa5 Rxa3 34.Qb4 Ke5 35.Qd2 Rd3 36.Qg5+ Qf5 37.Re1+ Kxd5 38.Qxf5+ gxf5 39.Kg2 Ra3 40.h4 Kd4 41.h5 d5 42.h6 Ra7 43.Kf3 Rh7 44.Re6 Kc3 45.Rc6+ Kd3 46.Kf4 Rf7 47.Kg5 Ke2 48.Rd6 1-0. After this taking points from Magnus Carlsen is no longer automatic for the Indian superstar.


Loek van Wely four moves before sacrificing a knight against Vladimir Kramnik

Van Wely,L (2681) - Kramnik,V (2799) [A09]
Amber Rapid Nice FRA (7), 22.03.2008
1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.b4 f6 4.e3 e5 5.c5 a5

In this position Loek van Wely shocked a lot of spectators on Playchess, where the games are being broadcast, by sacrificing a knight: 6.Nxe5. Madness? Hyper-aggression? No, a drawing variation, as you chess engine will immediately shos you: 6...fxe5 7.Qh5+ Kd7 8.Qf5+ Ke8 9.Qh5+ and now 9...Ke8 would allow White to claim a draw by threefold repetition. Kramnik wants more: 9...Kd7?! In the ensuing complications White has three pawns for a piece and genuine winning chances. Van Wely spoilt the advantage to almost be losing (around move 43). In the end the game finished peacefully. 10.Qf5+ Ke7 11.Qxe5+ Be6 12.Bc4 Qd7 13.b5 c6 14.Na3 Nf6 15.Bb2 Kf7 16.Bxd4 cxb5 17.Bxe6+ Qxe6 18.Qxe6+ Kxe6 19.Nxb5 Na6 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.d4 b6 22.cxb6 Rb8 23.Rc1 Rxb6 24.a4 Kd7 25.Ke2 Bd6 26.Kf3 Bb8 27.h4 Nc7 28.Nc3 f5 29.Ne2 Ne6 30.d5 Nd8 31.Nd4 Nf7 32.Rb1 Ne5+ 33.Ke2 Rb4 34.Nxf5 Rc8 35.Rxb4 axb4 36.Nd4 Ba7 37.Rb1 Rc4 38.Nf3 Nxf3 39.gxf3 Kd6 40.e4 Bc5 41.Rb3 Ke5 42.h5 Rc2+ 43.Kd3 Rxf2 44.Kc4 Rc2+ 45.Kb5 Bd6 46.a5 Rc3 47.Ka4 Kd4 48.a6 Bc5 49.d6 Bxd6 50.Rxc3 bxc3 51.a7 c2 52.a8Q c1Q 53.Qd5+ Ke3 54.Qxd6 Kxf3 55.e5 Qf4+ 56.Kb5 Ke4 57.Qc6+ Kxe5 58.Qc7+ Ke4 59.Qxh7+ Qf5+ 60.Qxf5+ Kxf5 ½-½.

Standings after seven rounds (14 games)

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1. Morozevich 5
2. Anand 4
Carlsen 4
Kramnik 4
Topalov 4
3. Aronian 3½
Ivanchuk 3½
Leko 3½
4. Karjakin 3
Van Wely 3
5. Mamedyarov 2½
6. Gelfand 2
 
1. Aronian    5½
2. Anand 4
Leko 4
3. Carlsen 3½
Gelfand 3½
Ivanchuk 3½
Karjakin 3½
Kramnik 3½
Mamedyarov 3½
4. Topalov 3
5. Van Wely 2½
6. Morozevich 2
 
1. Aronian    9
2. Anand 8
3. Carlsen 7½
Kramnik 7½
Leko 7½
4. Ivanchuk 7
Morozevich 7
Topalov 7
5. Karjakin 6½
6. Mamedyarov 6
7. Gelfand 5½
Van Wely 5½

Video reports from the tournament site

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