Amber 2009: Aronian with a flying start

3/15/2009 – Last year Levon Aronian won the blindfold and rapid spectacle in Nice by 2½ points. This year he has started with a 2-0 score – against his first opponent, Vassily Ivanchuk. The Amber tournament is being staged in the Palais de la Mediterranée in Nice and carries a prize fund of € 216,000. As a special service we bring you, this year and with pleasure, special photo coverage by 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.


Nice (or Nizza) lies in southern France on the Mediterranean coast and is pronounced exactly like your sibling's female child ("niece"). It is located between Marseille, France, and Genoa, Italy, and has a population of just over one million.


An arial photo when approaching Nice, with the beautiful Mediterranean on the left


Palais de la Mediterranée, where the event is taking place


The sea-front in Nice, France

This year’s field is stronger than ever with all the world’s best players taking part. The twelve participants are (in alphabetical order): World Champion Viswanathan Anand (India), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Vasily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Gata Kamsky (United States), Sergey Karjakin (Ukraine), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Peter Leko (Hungary), Alexander Morozevich (Russia), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Wang Yue (China).

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).

Report after round one

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


A fine start for Armenian GM Levon Aronian – two wins against Vassily Ivanchuk


This is how the blindfold games work: both players have a notebook where they receive
the opponent's move when it is played. The chessboard on the screen is without pieces.


Vladimir Kramnik in his blindfold game against Alexander Morozevich


Magnus Carlsen won his blind game against Gata Kamsky but lost the rapid game


Pictorial impressions from Nice by John Nunn

After his successful pictorial reports in this year's Wijk aan Zee tournament our friend and colleague, Dr John Nunn, is back in action, this time at the Amber tournament in Nice. For the uninitiated: John is a grandmaster, mathematician, scientist who runs a successful chess publishing house. Currently one of his prime hobbies is photography, which he practises with an advanced Canon SLR camera. The following pictures were all sent to us by John from Nice.


The Armenian clan: Levon Aroian with his mother and his father


Geurt Gijssen, who has been chief arbiter for all eighteen Amber tournaments. In the above picture Geurt is unrolling a piece of paper with the name of the next player to come up and draw his number in the drawing of lots.


Vladimir Kramnik ran into a spot of trouble: his mobile rang just as he went to draw his number. Fortunately there is nothing in the FIDE rules requiring that he default the drawing, and in fact he went on to chose the number one.


Held Kramnik: Alexander Morozevich in his Johnny Depp/Brad Pitt look


Some day, my father, all this will be yours? Henrik and Magnus Carlsen


Currently Magnus is number three on the Live Rankings list


Azeri GM Teimour Radjabov is currently number five in the world in the Live Rankings


Vassily Ivanchuk with his wife at the reception dinner in Nice


Discussions: Lev Aronian, Peter Leko and Veselin Topalov


Chinese GM Wang Yue, who has climbed to place 14 on the Live Rankings


Yue is presented with a caricature of himself


A caricature of your photographer, John Nunn

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