Amber 2011: Aronian and Anand suffer first defeats

3/18/2011 – Levon Aronian maintained his sole lead in spite of suffering a first loss in this tournament, against Alexander Grischuk. Vassily Ivanchuk defeated the second-placed Vishy Anand, while Magnus Carlsen scored against his "twin" Sergey Karjakin. All of this happened in the rapid chess – all blindfold games were drawn. Aronian is now a point ahead of his nearest rival, Carlsen. Round six report.

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The 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament is taking place at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco, from March 11 to 24, 2011. Every day four sessions are played, two blindfold and two rapid. The first session starts at 14.30h, the fourth session finishes around 20.00h. 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.

Report after round six

Blindfold Chess   Rapid Chess
Gelfand-Nakamura
½-½
  Nakamura-Gelfand
0-1
Grischuk-Aronian
½-½
  Aronian-Grischuk
0-1
Anand-Ivanchuk
½-½
  Ivanchuk-Anand
1-0
Topalov-Gashimov
½-½
  Gashimov-Topalov
1-0
Kramnik-Giri
½-½
  Giri-Kramnik
0-1
Karjakin-Carlsen
½-½
  Carlsen-Karjakin
1-0

Hikaru Nakamura did not appear for his blindfold game in round six. The American GM was under the impression that he was scheduled to play in the second session and had to rush from his hotel room to the playing room after a call from the arbiter. Gelfand had agreed to wait for his opponent before the clocks were started. Their game, like every other blindfold game in this round, was drawn. In the rapid game Gelfand was happy to play against the 4.e3 Nimzo-Indian, as he had lost two games playing it himself as White in this tournament, against Anand and Kramnik.

Nakamura,Hikaru (2774) - Gelfand,Boris (2733) [E48]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (6), 18.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 0-0 5.Bd3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Nge2 Re8 8.0-0 Bf8 9.Bd2 b6 10.Rc1 c5 11.Nf4 Ba6 12.Qf3 Bxd3 13.Nxd3 Nc6 14.dxc5 bxc5 15.Rfd1 c4 16.Nf4 Ne5 17.Qh3 Rb8 18.Rc2?

18...Nd3 19.Qf3 d4 20.exd4 Rxb2 21.Rxb2 Nxb2 22.Rc1. The point is that 22.Rb1 is met by 22...Qxd4 23.Rxb2 Qxd2! and if 24.Rxd2 then 24...Re1 mate). 22...Qxd4 23.Be3 Qe5 24.g3 Nd3 25.Nxd3 cxd3 26.Bd2 Qd4 27.Rb1 Qc4 28.Rb3 Bb4 29.Kg2 a5 30.Nb1 Rd8 31.Bxb4 axb4 32.Nd2 Qc2 33.Qf4 Nd5 34.Qh4 f6 35.Qc4 Qxd2 0-1.


Alexander Grischuk now with Anand in 3-4th place

Alexander Grischuk and Levon Aronian had a sharp fight in their blindfold game. In the rapid chess game the Russian inflicted a first defeat on the tournament leader Aronian. Grischuk’s comment: "Finally something to be proud of since the first game, even if the game was decided by a blunder. It was the last chance to bring back some tension in the tournament."

Aronian,Levon (2808) - Grischuk,Alexander (2747) [E61]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (6), 18.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 c5 6.d5 d6 7.h3 Re8 8.Nf3 e6 9.Nd2 exd5 10.cxd5 Nbd7 11.0-0 a6 12.a4 Rb8 13.Nc4 Ne5 14.Na3 Nh5 15.e4 Bd7 16.a5 b5 17.axb6 Bb5 18.Ncxb5 axb5 19.g4 Nf6 20.Nxb5 Qxb6 21.Na3 Qb3 22.Rb1 Qxd1 23.Rxd1 Rb3 24.Bd2 Nfd7 25.Bc3 g5 26.Kh1 Ra8 27.Bf1? White needed to play 27.Ra1.

27...Rxc3! 28.bxc3 Rxa3 29.Rdc1 Ra2 30.Kg2 Ng6 31.Bc4 Ra7 32.Bf1 Be5 33.Ra1 Rxa1 34.Rxa1 Bxc3 35.Ra6 Be5 36.Kf3 Kg7 37.Ke2 c4 38.f3 Nc5 39.Ra7 c3 40.Kd1 Nh4 41.Bb5 Nxf3 42.Be8 Nd4 43.Rxf7+ Kg8 0-1.

Vassily Ivanchuk (above), who celebrated his 42nd birthday today, had quite a bit of trouble in his blindfold game against World Champion Vishy Anand, but at the end of the day, after 49 moves to be more precise, the game was drawn. Ivanchuk collected his present in the rapid game. Playing a seemingly innocuous opening he avoided any theoretical discussions, although no one doubted his ambitions.

Ivanchuk,Vassily (2779) - Anand,Viswanathan (2817) [A04]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (6), 18.03.2011
1.Nf3 c5 2.g3 g6 3.c3 Bg7 4.d4 Qb6 5.Bg2 Nf6 6.0-0 0-0 7.a4 cxd4 8.a5 Qd8 9.cxd4 Nc6 10.Qa4 d5 11.Ne5 Bd7 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.Nd2 Rfc8 14.Nb3 e6 15.Rd1 Nd8 16.e3 Qxa4 17.Rxa4 Ne4 18.Bxe4 dxe4 19.Bd2 f5 20.Bc3 Rc7 21.Kf1 Kf7 22.Bb4 Nc6 23.Rc1 Rd8 24.Ba3 e5 25.a6 b5 26.Rb4 exd4 27.Rxb5 dxe3 28.Rb7 Rxb7 29.axb7

After 25.a6 White has taken the initiative. Now Anand decides to give a piece to stop White’s b-pawn. 29...Rb8?! This looks unfortunate, as the hoped for counterplay doesn’t materialize and the black position disintegrated quickly. 30.Rxc6 Rxb7 31.Na5 Rd7 32.fxe3 Rd1+ 33.Ke2 Rh1 34.Nc4 Rxh2+ 35.Kf1 h5 36.Ra6 Rc2 37.Rxa7+ Kg8 38.Rc7 Bf6 39.Rc6 Kg7 40.Ne5 Rd2 41.Bf8+ 1-0.


Vishy Anand has lost only one game in this tournament

In the rapid game between Vugar Gashimov and Veselin Topalov White repeated an English set-up that he played against Gelfand last year. The Bulgarian had problems on move nine.

Gashimov,Vugar (2746) - Topalov,Veselin (2775) [A22]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (6), 18.03.2011
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Bb4 4.Bg2 0-0 5.d3 Re8 6.Bd2 c6 7.Nf3 d5 8.0-0 h6? Instead of e.g. 8...d4,

9.Nxd5! Nxd5 10.cxd5 Bxd2 11.Nxd2 cxd5 12.Qb3 forking two pawns. 12...Be6 13.Qxb7 Nd7 14.Qa6 Nc5 15.Qa3 Qb6 16.Rfc1 Rac8 17.Rc3 d4 18.Rc2 Na6 19.Rac1 Rxc2 20.Rxc2 Nb4 21.Rc1 Nxa2 22.Nc4 Nxc1 23.Nxb6 axb6 24.Qa4 Rd8 25.Bf3 Bh3 26.Bg2 Nxe2+ 27.Kf1 Bxg2+ 28.Kxg2 e4 29.Qd1 exd3 30.Kf1 g5 31.Ke1 Nc3 32.Qxd3 Re8+ 33.Kf1 Ne2

34.Qxe2!? You've got to admire the confidence of the Azeri GM that he will win the pawn ending. 34...Rxe2 35.Kxe2 Kf8. Fritz thinks it can hold the position after 35...f5. 36.Kd3 Ke7 37.Kxd4 Kd6 38.g4 f6 39.Kc4 Kc6 40.b3 b5+ 41.Kb4 Kb6 42.h3 Kc6 43.Ka5 Kc5 44.b4+ Kc4 45.f3 1-0.


Kramnik vs Giri in the 59-move blindfold game

The longest game of the blindfold sessions was the one between Vladimir Kramnik and Anish Giri, with the younger player pushing for a win with Black in the end. The game ended after 59 moves in a draw. The rapid game between the two lasted even longer. Giri managed to equalize in this Nimzo-Indian and could have made an easy draw with 30.Kf1 instead of 30.bxa5. After that he had to suffer and although he retained chances to make a draw, the black position was much easier to play.

Giri,Anish (2690) - Kramnik,Vladimir (2785) [D38]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (6), 18.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.e3 c5 8.dxc5 Qa5 9.Rc1 Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 0-0 11.Nd4 Ne4 12.Bf4 Re8 13.f3 Nexc5 14.Be2 Ne5 15.Nb3 Nxb3 16.axb3 Ng6 17.Bg3 Rxe3 18.0-0 Bf5 19.Bf2 Re7 20.Qd2 Qc7 21.Rfe1 Qf4 22.Qxf4 Nxf4 23.Bf1 Re6 24.Red1 a6 25.b4 h6 26.Bg3 Ne2+ 27.Bxe2 Rxe2 28.Rxd5 Be6 29.Rd4 a5 30.bxa5 Rxa5 31.Re4 Rxe4 32.fxe4 Bd7 33.Rc2 Bc6 34.e5 Rc5 35.c4 Be4 36.Rc3 Ra5 37.Re3 Bf5 38.Be1 Ra2 39.c5 Be6 40.Rd3 Kh7 41.h3 Ra1 42.Kf2 Rb1 43.Bc3 Rc1 44.Kg3 g5 45.h4 Kg6 46.hxg5 hxg5 47.Rf3 Bd5 48.Rf6+ Kh5 49.Bd2 Rc2 50.Rf2 Be6 51.Be3 Rc3 52.Kf3 Bd5+ 53.Ke2 Kg4 54.Kd2 Ra3 55.Rf1 Ra2+ 56.Kd3 Rxg2

There are still drawing chances, which however evaporate after 57.Rg1?? Rxg1 58.Bxg1 Kf3 59.Kd2 g4 60.Bd4 g3 61.Ke1 Bc4 62.e6 Bxe6 63.Bf6 Bc4 64.Kd2 Kf2 65.Bh4 f5 66.Kc3 f4 67.Kxc4 Ke2 0-1.

Sergey Karjakin, who is just ten months older than Magnus Carlsen and his "twin" in their aspirations to be on the very top of the chess world, drew his blindfold game in 43 moves. In the rapid game Magnus had a moment of panic.

Carlsen,Magnus (2815) - Karjakin,Sergey (2776) [C84]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (6), 18.03.2011
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.a4 b4 9.Nbd2 0-0 10.Re1 Na5 11.Ba2 c5 12.c3 Rb8 13.d4 cxd4 14.cxd4 Qc7 15.Nb3 Nxb3 16.Bxb3 Bg4 17.Bg5 exd4 18.Qxd4 Bxf3 19.gxf3 Nh5 20.Rac1 Qd7 21.Bxe7 Qxe7 22.e5 Qg5+ 23.Qg4 Qxg4+ 24.fxg4 Nf4 25.Rc6 dxe5 26.Rxa6 Nd3 27.Re3 Nxb2 28.a5 e4 29.Rxe4 Nd3 30.Rc6 Ra8? 31.a6

After playing his hast move Magnus suddenly thought that he had missed 31…Rxa6 32.Rxa6 Nc5, but then, much to his relief, he saw the refutation – which you will surely find in a flash. The game ended 31...h5 32.g5 Rfc8 33.Rxc8+ Rxc8 34.g6 1-0.

Standings after the sixth round

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1. Aronian
2. Anand
  Gelfand
  Grischuk
3. Carlsen
3
  Gashimov
3
  Karjakin
3
4. Giri
  Ivanchuk
  Nakamura
  Topalov
5. Kramnik
2
 
1. Carlsen
2. Aronian
4
3. Anand
  Grischuk
4. Ivanchuk
3
  Kramnik
3
  Topalov
3
5. Gashimov
  Gelfand
  Karjakin
  Nakamura
6. Giri
 
1. Aronian
2. Carlsen
3. Anand
7
  Grischuk
7
4. Gelfand
6
5. Gashimov
  Ivanchuk
  Karjakin
  Topalov
6. Kramnik
5
  Nakamura
5
7. Giri
4

Player portraits: Alexander Grischuk


Photo by John Nunn in Monaco

Alexander Grischuk – Russia. Elo rating: 2747, World ranking: 10, Date of birth: October 31, 1983. Amber highlights: overall fourth in 2006. First in blindfold and overall fourth in 2010.

Alexander Grischuk occupies a unique place amongst the leading grandmasters of today, as he is one of very few and perhaps even the only one who clearly prefers quicker time-controls over classical games. Without any reservation he rates his win at the Blitz World Championship in Rishon-Le-Zion in 2006 as one of the finest achievements in his career. Not surprisingly he has named the Amber tournament as his favourite event. The first time he took part, in 2006, he ended in a creditable overall fourth place. Last year, he again finished fourth, but claimed his first big prize by topping the blindfold competition, 1½ (!) points ahead of runners-up Kramnik, Carlsen and Ivanchuk.

Grischuk likes tournaments where there is a high first prize at stake and perhaps that explains why he did well at the FIDE knock-out world championships. In 2000 in New Delhi, he reached the semi-finals, while in 2004 in Libya he proceeded to the quarter finals. In 2005 his result in the FIDE World Cup qualified him for the Candidates matches, where thanks to victories over Malakhov and Rublevsky he earned a spot in the World Championship in Mexico (where he finished 8th).

With his talent and experience Grischuk was also a valuable member in many team events, winning numerous prizes with club teams and the Russian national team. Still, one might say that his real 'international' breakthrough only came in 2009. To begin with he won the €100,000 first prize in Linares and at the end of the year there was a new highlight when in Moscow he won the Super Final of the Russian Championship. Next Grischuk carried his good form into the new year and in January 2010 he led the Russian team to victory in the World Team Championship in Bursa, Turkey.

Last year he finished second in Linares and third in the 2008-2010 FIDE Grand Prix, which qualified him as the first reserve for the Candidates matches in Kazan. Upon Carlsen's withdrawal from the Candidates' matches Grischuk was in invited. His first opponent in May will be Levon Aronian.

Source: Amber 2011 web site

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