Amber 2009: Aronian breaks away as Carlsen and Anand falter

3/25/2009 – In a dramatic penultimate round all (!) the blindfold games were decided – though many by simple blunders that occur when you do not have the pieces in front of you. Anand dropped a queen in one, and Magnus Carlsen played as if in a stupor. Only Lev Aronian won his match to go into the clear lead by a full point. Big pictorial report with an Europe Echecs video interview with Veselin Topalov.

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The 18th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament, organized by the Association Max Euwe in Monaco, is taking place from March 14 (first round) to March 26 (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. 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. Every day four sessions are played: two blindfold and two rapid games. The first session starts at 14.30h. The fourth session finishes around 20.00h. (Note: the final round on March 26 starts at 12.30h. March 18 and 23 are rest days).

Round ten: Aronian breaks away as co-leaders stumble

Round ten: Blindfold Chess   Round ten: Rapid Chess
Ivanchuk-Radjabov 1-0   Radjabov-Ivanchuk ½-½
Leko-Karjakin 0-1   Karjakin-Leko ½-½
Carlsen-Kramnik 0-1   Kramnik-Carlsen ½-½
Kamsky-Topalov 0-1   Topalov-Kamsky 0-1
Anand-Morozevich 0-1   Morozevich-Anand ½-½
Aronian-Wang Yue 1-0   Wang Yue-Aronian 1-0

In a dramatic tenth and penultimate round the number of leaders at the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament was reduced from three to one. As World Championship Vishy Anand stumbled against Alexander Morozevich due to a classical blindfold error and Magnus Carlsen lost to Vladimir Kramnik due to an atypically poor performance in their blindfold game, Levon Aronian moved into the sole lead again. Aronian defeated Wang Yue 1½-½ and with one round (two games) to go he is one full point ahead of Anand and Carlsen. In the last round Aronian plays Topalov, Anand faces Wang Yue and Carlsen is paired with Radjabov. Full bulletin report.

Standings after ten rounds

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1.  Carlsen    7    
2. Aronian 6½
3. Anand 6
Kramnik 6
5. Leko 5½
Morozevich 5½
7. Ivanchuk 5
Topalov 5
9. Radjabov 4
10. Karjakin 3½
11. Kamsky 3
Wang Yue 3
 
1.  Aronian    6½
Kamsky 6½
3. Anand 6
4. Kramnik 5½
5. Carlsen 5
Karjakin 5
7. Ivanchuk 4½
Leko 4½
Topalov 4½
10. Morozevich 4
Radjabov 4
Wang Yue 4
 
1.  Aronian    13    
2. Anand 12
Carlsen 12
4. Kramnik 11½
5. Leko 10
6. Ivanchuk 9½
Kamsky 9½
Morozevich 9½
Topalov 9½
10. Karjakin 8½
11. Radjabov 8
12. Wang Yue 7

Blindfold chess

In this variation of the game both players do not see the pieces – they move them on a computer screen which shows an empty board. Keeping track of everything in your head is something they do astonishingly well, but quite often there are little "accidents". Here are some from round ten.

Anand,V (2791) - Morozevich,A (2771) [B07]
18th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (10), 25.03.2009
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nge2 Be7 5.g3 c6 6.Bg2 b5 7.0-0 0-0 8.a3 Nbd7 9.h3 Rb8 10.Be3 a5 11.b3 Re8 12.g4 b4 13.axb4 axb4 14.Na4 d5 15.dxe5 Nxe4 16.f4 Ba6 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.Nd4 Qc7 19.Rf2 g6 20.Nb2 Ra8 21.Ne2 Bh4 22.Rg2 Nb6 23.c4 bxc3 24.Nxc3 Nd5

In the above position the World Champion played 25.Qxd5?? cxd5 0-1. How is that possible? Well, Anand had planned 25.Nxd5 cxd5 26.Qxd5. When it was time to play he assumed he had already played Nxd5 and move his queen to recapture the black pawn that had taken the knight. When Morozevich played pawn c6 takes queen Anand realised what had happened and resigned. This kind of thing of course could never happen in regular chess – you figure out why.

Kamsky,G (2725) - Topalov,V (2796) [B43]
18th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (10), 25.03.2009
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bd3 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7 8.a4 Nc6 9.Nb3 b6 10.Be3 0-0 11.f3 Bb7 12.Rf2 Qc7 13.Bf1 Rac8 14.Qe1 Ne5 15.Rd2 Nfd7 16.Rad1 Rfe8 17.Kh1 Bf8 18.Qg3 Nc5 19.Nd4 Qb8 20.Rf2 Ncd7 21.Bc1 Nf6 22.Re2 Ng6 23.Ree1 Be7 24.Qf2 Bd8 25.Nde2 Bc7 26.Qg1 d5 27.exd5 Nxd5 28.Nxd5 Bxd5 29.Nc3 Bb7 30.Be3 Ne5 31.Be2 Bc6

In the above position Gata Kamsky believed his queen was still on f2, where it had been some moves earlier, and allowed a simple tactic that cost the queen and the game: played 32.Bxa6? Nxf3 33.gxf3?? Bxf3+ 0-1.

Leko,P (2751) - Karjakin,Sergey (2706) [D43]
18th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (10), 25.03.2009
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bxf6 Qxf6 7.e3 Nd7 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 g6 10.0-0 Bg7 11.Rc1 Qe7 12.e4 0-0 13.e5 c5 14.Re1 cxd4 15.Qxd4 Nb6 16.Bf1 Bd7 17.Bb5 Rfd8 18.Qe4 a6 19.Bxd7 Rxd7 20.Na4 Nd5 21.Nc5 Rc7 22.Nd3 Rac8 23.g3 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 25.Nxc1 Qc7 26.Nd3 Qc2 27.Kg2 h5 28.Nfe1 Qc6 29.Kg1 Bh6 30.a3 b5 31.f4 Bf8 32.Kf2 a5 33.Kf3 a4 34.h3 Qc4 35.g4 hxg4+ 36.hxg4 Qb3 37.f5 Qd1+ 38.Kg3 Kh7 39.fxg6+ fxg6 40.Qf3 Qxf3+ 41.Nxf3 Kg8 42.Nd4 b4 43.axb4 Nxb4 44.Nxb4 Bxb4 45.Nxe6 Kf7

Here Peter Leko played 46.Nf4?, which allows the trick 46...Bc3! and the bishop cannot be taken because then the black a-pawn queens. Leko played on for a while but the position was lost. 47.e6+ Ke8 48.Nd5 Bxb2 49.Kf4 a3 50.Nb4 Ke7 51.Kg5 Kxe6 52.Kxg6 Kd6 53.Kf5 Kc5 54.Nc2 a2 55.g5 Kc4 56.g6 Kb3 0-1.

Vladimir Kramnik could hardly believe what happened in his game against Magnus Carlsen. "He is a strong player and especially in blindfold he was playing well here. He must have been completely out. I cannot consider this as a normal win." Indeed it doesn’t happen often (did it ever happen before since he earned the grandmaster title?) that Carlsen loses with white in 20 moves.

Pictorial impressions from Nice by John Nunn


Around 20,000 Elo points working on a chess position: Karjakin, Aronian, Wang Yue, Radjabov, Kramnik and Leko analysing Wang Yue's ending against Aronian with Ljubomir Ljubojevic (seated).


Kramnik prepares his usual pre-round coffee...


... then gets to work in his blindfold game against Magnus Carlsen. Note that after our earlier comments about his mysterious blue drink and drug-testing, Kramnik has substituted a Diet Coke for this game. Carlsen, as always, uses orange juice.


The Coke wins: Kramnik defeated Carlsen in 20 moves


Anand: the World Champion now in joint second place...


... together with Magnus Carlsen, who crashed against Kramnik


Levon Aronian ahead by a full point with one round to go


A quiz question: this is the brother of which player in Nice? (Answer in our final report)

All pictures © John Nunn


Video reports by Europe Echecs

These video reports are by GM Robert Fontaine and the Europe Echecs team. They give us a unique view of the tournament, with daily wrap-ups and atmosphere reports.

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Topics: Amber 2009
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