Amber 2009: Aronian takes the lead, Anand and Kramnik follow

3/20/2009 – Levon Aronian, last year's winner, beat the two "kids", Magnus Carlsen in round five and Sergey Karkjakin in round six, each time with 1½–½ point. Vishy Anand scored a 2-0 victory over Teimour Radjabov to catch Kramnik in second place. Carlsen and Morozevich follow half a point behind. We bring you new impressions from Nice by our illustrious photo reporter GM Dr John Nunn.

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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 five

Today the players in the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament returned to work after they enjoyed their first free day yesterday. While in the old centre of Nice a parade of protesters was closely watched by riot police, the grandmasters sat down in the peace and quiet of the Palais de la Mediterranée to play Round 5. At the end of the day Levon Aronian joined Vladimir Kramnik in the lead thanks to a win from a highly dubious position over Magnus Carlsen. As Aronian commented: ‘I’ve said this many times before, there’s nothing sweeter than a win that is not deserved.’. Full bulletin report.

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

Round six

In Round 6 Levon Aronian moved into the sole lead again thanks to a 1½-½ victory over Sergey Karjakin. Vishy Anand enjoyed an even better day. The World Champion defeated Teimour Radjabov 2-0 and moved into shared second place, together with Vladimir Kramnik, half a point behind the leader.

Full bulletin report.

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

Standings after six rounds

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1.  Carlsen    4½
Kramnik 4½
3. Leko 4
4. Anand 3½
Aronian 3½
Morozevich 3½
7. Topalov 3
8. Radjabov 2½
9. Kamsky 2
Wang Yue 2
11. Ivanchuk 1½
Karjakin 1½
 
1.  Aronian    4½
2. Anand 4
Kamsky 4
4. Karjakin 3
Kramnik 3
Morozevich 3
Topalov 3
8. Ivanchuk 2½
Radjabov 2½
Wang Yue 2½
11. Carlsen 2
Leko 2
 
1.  Aronian    8    
2. Anand 7½
Kramnik 7½
4. Carlsen 6½
Morozevich 6½
6. Kamsky 6
Leko 6
Topalov 6
9. Radjabov 5
10. Karjakin 4½
Wang Yue 4½
12. Ivanchuk 4

Pictorial impressions from Nice by John Nunn


A view of the extensive beach area of Nice, curving to the airport in the distance


Modern-day beach comber: hunting for buried treasure with a metal detector


In the sea: a kayak, a sailboat and the inevitable brave swimmer


Serious angling: ocean fishing seems popular, especially with this man on the beach


Mystery: how did this angler get where he is? There was no path down from the top of the rocks


Lots of expensive yachts parked at the port


The bees are already busy in the warm sunshine of Nice


The tournament venue: the Palais de la Mediterranée with corrected verticals


An overview of the tournament hall, just as the rapid games on three boards start


In the ceiling there are cameras recording everything in case of a dispute


Wang Yue looking relatively happy after his first win in the tournament (in round five)


Pensive: Vassily Ivanchuk after his round five rapid chess loss to Anand


Funny guy: "there’s nothing sweeter than a win that is not deserved," said Levon Aronian


Enemies: Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov not shaking hands

The two are not on speaking terms (since Toiletgate in Elista), but FIDE rules say you cannot refuse a handshake. So the modus vivendi is that the player who arrives first – here Topalov – will immerse himself in the position and simply not offer a handshake, which the other player – Kramnik – logically does not have to refuse. The same opening system is applied when Topalov plays Morozevich, whereby the latter has introduced a novelty: he is known to hide behind a pillar until the photographers have left.


Another picture of the two not shaking hands. During the blindfold games there is even no danger of eye contact...


Alexander Morozevich, who won and lost a game in round five against...


... Sergey Karjakin, who after 30 attempts finally gives us a smile


World Champion Anand shares some insights with Lev Aronian


...who passes them on to Peter Leko (not really)


Round six was not good for Teimour Radjabov, who lost both games...


... to this very cool Indian gentleman: Vishy Anand

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