Amber 2011: Aronian and Carlsen together in the lead

3/16/2011 – Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen continue to lead in the 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Monaco. Aronian defeated Ivanchuk, while Carlsen defeated Giri, both with 1½-½ scores. The € 1,000 Game of the Day prize was awarded to Sergey Karjakin for his blindfold win over Vladimir Kramnik. Round four report with photos by John Nunn.

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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 four

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

Aronian and Carlsen continue, Karjakin takes the prize

It was Sergey Karjakin who stole the show. The Ukrainian-Russian GM achieved something in his blindfold game against Vladimir Kramnik that many grandmasters will envy him for: he broke through the former world champion’s Berlin Wall!

Karjakin,Sergey (2776) - Kramnik,V (2785) [C67]
20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC (4), 15.03.2011
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.h3 h6 11.b3 c5 12.Nd5. As an expert in this line for both sides Karjakin introduces a novelty, which is followed up by ‘a nice idea’ (14.Bb2). 12...c6 13.Nf4 g5 14.Bb2 Rg8 15.e6 Bxe6 16.Rad1+ Kc7 17.Nxe6+ fxe6 18.g4 Bg7 19.Bxg7 Nxg7 20.Ne5 Rad8 21.Rxd8 Rxd8 22.f4. White’s advantage has become serious after 20.Ne5. Now he opens the kingside. 22...gxf4 23.Rxf4 Rd1+ 24.Kg2 Ne8 25.Rf7+

25...Kb6. Probably 25...Kc8 was better – now things go rapidly downhill for Black. 26.Re7 Nf6 27.Rxe6 Nd5 28.Rxh6. Now Karjakin can push his connected passed kingside pawns, which guarantee him victory. 28...Ne3+ 29.Kg3 Nxc2 30.h4 Nd4 31.h5 Ka5 32.Rh7 b5 33.h6 Rh1 34.Kg2 Rh4 35.Kg3 Rh1 36.g5 Kb4 37.Nd3+ Kc3 38.Nxc5 a5 39.Rf7 Kb4 40.Nd3+ Kc3 41.Nf2 Rh5 42.Nh3 Ne6 43.Rf3+ Kb2 44.Kg4 1-0.

‘I played quite well’, Sergey smiled contentedly, and nobody argued with that. The rapid game was quite another story. Again Karjakin was satisfied, but for a totally different reason. ‘Did you see my position? I was three pawns down, without any compensation!?’, he asked anyone he ran into. His amazement was understandable. Kramnik had outplayed him completely and Karjakin admitted that he had even been a little bit ashamed that he hadn’t resigned the game. He could be happy that he didn’t, as Kramnik completely ‘lost his nerves’, as guest-of-honour Viktor Kortchnoi put it, and earned nothing more than a draw for his efforts.

Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov unpacked the present for his 36th birthday, which he celebrated on Tuesday, in the rapid game.

Topalov,Veselin (2775) - Gelfand,Boris (2733) [D43]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (4), 15.03.2011
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5 h6 6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.0-0 Nbd7 11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bd6 a6 14.a4 b4

15.Nb1! Topalov's comment on this novelty said a lot about some of today’s opening preparation at the highest level: ‘It’s one of those typical computer novelties for which it is very difficult to find a solution at the board. If you don’t know what it is all about it’s very hard to play against it.’ Gelfand thought for a long time, but failed to come up with the right solution. 15...Nf6 16.e5 Ne4 17.Bxb4 c5 18.Ba3 cxd4 19.Bf3 Bf8?! 20.Re1 Bxa3 21.Nxa3 Nc5 22.Nxc4 0-0 23.b4 Bxf3 24.Qxf3 Nd7 25.h4 Rc8 26.Qd3 Qc7 27.Rac1 Nb6 28.Nd6 Qxc1 29.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 30.Kh2 Rc3 31.Qxd4 Nd5 32.hxg5 hxg5 33.Qg4 1-0.

The blindfold game between Alexander Grischuk and Vishy Anand was the first one to finish after a mere 20 moves when a move repetition forced a draw. The rapid game ended in a win for the World Champion, but he was the first to admit that in the opening and middlegame his opponent had played better.

Anand,Viswanathan (2817) - Grischuk,Alexander (2747) [B90]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (4), 15.03.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 Qb6 7.g4 Nc6 8.Nb3 e6 9.Qe2 Qc7 10.Be3 b5 11.0-0-0 Nd7 12.Qf2 Rb8 13.Kb1 Nce5 14.Rg1 Be7 15.f4 Nc4 16.Ba7 Ra8 17.Bd4 b4 18.Bxc4 Qxc4 19.Nd2 Qc6 20.Ne2 e5 21.Be3 a5 22.Ng3 g6 23.Nf3 a4 24.fxe5 dxe5 25.Rd5 b3 26.cxb3 axb3 27.a3 0-0 28.Rc1 Qa6 29.Qd2 Nf6 30.Rxe5 Rd8 31.Bd4 Be6 32.Nf5 Bf8 33.h3 Bc4 34.Ne7+ Bxe7 35.Rxe7 Bd3+ 36.Ka1

Anand has realized that he needed to defend and look for counterchances. Grischuk gives him the opportunity: 36...Bc2?? 37.Qf4 Rdc8 38.Rc7 (38.Re1 would have decided the game quicker) 38...Rxc7 39.Qxc7 Nxe4 40.Re1 Re8?? (instead of moving the queen and saving the game) 41.Ng5 (threatening mate in one on f7) 41...Rf8 42.Nxe4 1-0.


Old hands: Anand and Gelfand discuss their games after the round

Magnus Carlsen arrived seven minutes late for his blindfold game against Anish Giri. The Norwegian grandmaster was under the impression that the second session started at a quarter past four (he wasn’t too proud of this, as this isn’t exactly his first Amber and the starting times have not changed recently) and was chatting with a friend from his room. Fortunately he mentioned at some point that his next game would start at a quarter past four, which gave his friend the opportunity to tell him that he better hurry as the correct starting time was 4 p.m.! In the meantime Chief Arbiter Geurt Gijssen had started his clock as it was not the first time that Carlsen arrived late for his game.


Anish Giri concentrates while waiting for his opponent


Magnus Carlsen arrives late, and photographer Fred Lucas
gets a picture of him tying his shoe lace

In a Grünfeld with g3 Carlsen got the initiative. He was pleased with his position and felt he had a nice advantage, but he misplayed it and had to settle for a draw. It was all about the black-squared bishops: ‘I should have exchanged my black-squared bishop, but I thought that his black-squared bishop was bad. But gradually I discovered that my black-squared bishop was even worse.’

In the rapid game Carlsen opted for some sort of Dutch defence in his wish ‘to just play something’. He won a pawn, because Giri had missed 22…Qd3, but even after that loss the young Dutchman had serious drawing chances. But so far Giri has fared better with black than with white and it was not to be. Once Carlsen managed to reach a knight ending he was easily winning.


Aronian shopping around for a new game to take up. Go for it,
Lev – there is serious money to be won in table foosball!

Levon Aronian was clearly disappointed after the blindfold game against Vasily Ivanchuk had ended in a draw. ‘To reach such a position and then not to win it’, he lamented as he walked into the press room. ‘I had so many good options, that I started to tremble looking at all those attractive moves.’ His decision to sacrifice his queen he called dubious, he should have played 27.Qe1. Because of his annoyance about his play he decided to ‘give away his queen and make a draw’. But instead he started to play under his level and ended up in a lost position. Only then the ‘real Aronian’ reappeared, as there were ‘some tricks’ and he managed to make a draw after all. Once again we will not take a cursory look at the 101-move game because we know that our resident endgame specialist, GM Dr Karsten Müller, will provide full didactic explanations in due course. Aronian was more efficient in the rapid game and claimed the full point after 51 moves.

Standings after the fourth round

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1. Aronian
3
  Grischuk
3
2. Anand
  Carlsen
  Gashimov
3. Gelfand

2

  Karjakin

2

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

Player portraits: Sergey Karjakin

Sergey Karjakin – Russia. Elo rating: 2776, World ranking: 6, Date of birth: January 12, 1990. Amber highlights: in his second Amber in 2009 he finished in 7th place. In 2010 he finished overall fifth.

Within a couple of years Sergey Karjakin has developed from a promising prodigy into a world class player who has comfortably settled among the very best. An important contribution to his progress may have been his remarkable career move two years ago when he decided that henceforth he'd represent Russia instead of Ukraine. With the support of the Russian Chess Federation he moved to Moscow and he also 'completed' his team. Assisted by Kasparov's former coach Yury Dokhoian and Russia's team coach Alexander Motylev, Karjakin can now safely be called one of the best organized grandmasters around.


Serge Karjakin at the age of twelve
 

Although he's 'already' 21 years old, Karjakin is often reminded of the fact that once he was the youngest grandmaster of all time. Which is understandable, as he holds a unique record. He was only twelve years and seven months old when in 2002 he earned the highest chess title.

Karjakin won countless junior championships in Ukraine and in 2001 he became U-12 Junior World Champion in Oropesa del Mar, Spain. His development was fast and impressive. In 2004 he was one of the pillars of the Ukrainian team that claimed gold at the Calvia Olympiad. His score of 6,5 out of 7 on Board 4 was the best individual performance of the event. Two years later, in Turin, Karjakin again chalked up one of the highest scores. Last September he made his Olympiad debut on the Russian team with a gold medal on Board 4 (8/10, a 2859 performance). His individual breakthrough to the world elite was his win in Wijk aan Zee in 2009. One of his finest achievements in 2010 was his shared first place at the Tal Memorial in Moscow.


In July 2009 Sergey married Ukrainian WIM Kateryna Dolzhikova,
rated 2272, who is with him at the Amber tournament in Monaco

Karjakin made his Amber debut three years ago. His first performance, ninth overall, was decent, but it came as no surprise that he finished in 7th place in 2009 and 5th last year. Let's see if there is room for further improvement.

Source: Amber 2011 web site

Links

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Topics Amber 2011
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