Melody Amber blindfold and rapid starts in Nice

3/16/2008 – The annual Melody Amber tournament has started, this time not in Monaco but in the beautiful French seaside resort of Nice, with twelve leading grandmasters playing blindfold and rapid chess games. The prize fund is a massive 216,000 Euro (currently US $336,000). Vishy Anand started the event with a spectacular win over Vladimir Kramnik. Can you find the winning move?

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Report after round one

Round one: Blindfold Chess   Round one: Rapid Chess
Anand-Kramnik
1/2
  Kramnik-Anand
0-1
Mamedyarov-Morozevich
1/2
  Morozevich-Mamedyarov
1/2
Topalov-Leko
1-0
  Leko-Topalov
1/2
Gelfand-Karjakin
0-1
  Karjakin-Gelfand
1/2
Aronian-Van Wely
1/2
  Van Wely-Aronian
0-1
Carlsen-Ivanchuk
0-1
  Ivanchuk-Carlsen
1/2

The venue of the seventeenth Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament: the Palais de la Mediterranée, where the players are also staying. The hotel is located on the Promenade des Anglais, the main boulevard of Nice, along the Mediterranean. The name of the city is pronounced "niece" (like your brother or sister's daughter). It is very nice, though.

The special pairing of round one was World Champion Vishy Anand facing his challenger Vladimir Kramnik (in a match scheduled for later this year in Bonn). Their blindfold encounter was a Petroff with 5.Nc3. White kept a tiny plus, but Black’s counterplay with Ng7 and Re4 sufficed to equalize. On move 23 Anand offered a draw and after a brief thought Kramnik accepted.

The rapid chess game was won in spectacular style by Vishy Anand.

Kramnik,V (2799) - Anand,V (2799) [E15]
Amber Rapid Nice ITA (1), 15.03.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Ba6 5.b3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 7.Bg2 c6 8.Bc3 d5 9.Ne5 Nfd7 10.Nxd7 Nxd7 11.Nd2 0-0 12.0-0 f5 13.Rc1 Nf6 14.Bb2 Bd6 15.Nf3 Qe7 16.Ne5 Rac8 17.Nd3 Rfd8 18.Re1 Qe8 19.e3 g5 20.Rc2 g4 21.Qc1 Qe7 22.Rd1 Ne4 23.c5 bxc5 24.dxc5 Bb8 25.Ne5 Ng5 26.Qa1 Nf7 27.Nxf7 Kxf7 28.a4 h5 29.b4 h4 30.b5 Bb7 31.Rdc1 Kg6 32.Be5 Bxe5 33.Qxe5 Qf6 34.Qd4 e5 35.Qb4 hxg3 36.hxg3 Rd7 37.Qa5 Rh8 38.Qxa7 f4 39.exf4 exf4 40.gxf4 Rdh7 41.Qb6 Qxf4 42.bxc6

Can you see the decisive move that Black played (to almost immediately end the game)? Hint: it is one of the coolest moves in recent times. Hint 2: one could almost shower the board with gold coins.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov drew with white against Alexander Morozevich's Chigorin in their blindfold game. The rapid game was also drawn. Veselin Topalov gave himself a 33rd birthday present by beating Peter Leko in a Catalan Opening in the blindfold game. The rapid game, a rare (for Topalov) Caro-Kann was drawn in 38 moves.

Boris Gelfand played a Réti-like setup against Sergey Karjakin, got under pressure and then fell to a blunder on move 44. In their rapid game Gelfand was again under pressure but fought back to draw in 46 moves. Levon Aronian took a point off Loek van Wely in their rapid game.


Magnus Carlsen vs Vassily Ivanchuk in the blindfold section of Amber 2008

Magnus Carlsen suffered in both his games against Vassily Ivanchuk, losing painfully in their blindfold game but at least hanging on tenaciously in the rapid chess when most spectators were expecting a 2-0 whitewash by the veteran Ukranian. The game ended on move 62 just as the Norwegian GM was about to stalemate his opponent, something Ivanchuk did not want to see actually executed on the chessboard.

This is how Anand won his rapid chess game against Kramnik: 42...Qf3! 43.cxb7+ Kf5 0-1.

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