Amber 2011: Aronian increases lead with win over Kramnik

3/23/2011 – Levon Aronian increased his lead over Magnus Carlsen to one point with a 1½-½ win over Vladimir Kramnik. Carlsen lost one and won one against Vishy Anand. With two rounds to go it is clear that the fight for victory in this 20th farewell edition will be between Aronian and Carlsen, who is one and a half points ahead Anand, Grischuk and Ivanchuk. Round nine 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 nine

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

The blindfold game between Vugar Gashimov and Boris Gelfand featured an English Opening in which Black would have had a perfectly fine position had he played 16…Rf7. Instead he went 16…Bf7, missing an idea that soon would get him into trouble. After 24.Qd5 Gashimov assessed the position as ‘as good as won’ and playing accurately the Azeri grandmaster converted his advantage. In the rapid game Gelfand levelled the score in this mini-match. Around move 30 chances were equal and then Gelfand decided to spice up things with 38.Nxc5 and was rewarded for his courage. Black had various possibilities to make a draw, but lost the thread.

Gelfand,Boris (2733) - Gashimov,Vugar (2746) [A60]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (9), 22.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 Bd6 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 0-0 8.Nf3 Re8 9.e3 a6 10.a4 Bf8 11.d6 Re6 12.Bc4 Rxd6 13.Qb3 Qe8 14.Bg3 Nc6 15.Bxd6 Bxd6 16.Nd5 Nxd5 17.Bxd5 Nb4 18.0-0 Bf8 19.e4 d6 20.h3 Rb8 21.a5 b5 22.axb6 Rxb6 23.Qc3 g6 24.Rfe1 Bg7 25.Qd2 Nxd5 26.exd5 Qd7 27.Rab1 Kh7 28.Qf4 a5 29.Qh4 Rb4 30.Ng5+ Kg8 31.Ne4 Kh8 32.Qg3 Rb6 33.Nd2 Ba6 34.b3 Kh7 35.Rbd1 Qf5 36.Ne4 Be5 37.Qe3 Rb4 38.Nxc5 Bf4 39.Qe8 dxc5 40.d6 Rxb3 41.Re7 Bc4 42.d7

Now 42...Bc7 is forced, but Black goes for the suicidal 42...Rxh3? Now after 43.gxh3 Qg5+ 44.Kh1 Qf5 White has nothing: 45.Re3 Bxe3 46.Qxe3 Bd5+ 47.Kh2 Qxd7 48.Qxc5 Qf5 49.Rxd5. The game is essentially over, but Gashimov tries some rapid chess desperation defence: 49...Qf4+ 50.Kg1 a4 51.Qd4 Qc1+ 52.Qd1 Qc3 53.Rd3 Qb4 54.Qa1 Qf4 55.Ra3 Qg5+ 56.Rg3 Qf4 57.Rg4 Qf3 58.Rg3 Qf4 59.Qa3 h5 60.Rf3 Qc4 61.Qe3 Kg8 62.Qe8+ Kg7 63.Qe5+ Kg8 64.Rc3 Qa6 65.Qe8+ Kg7 66.Rc8. To no avail. 1-0.

Anish Giri faced Alexander Grischuk's pet defence in this Amber tournament, the King’s Indian, in their blindfold game. The first 19 moves were all known. Instead of the traditional queenside offensive to counter Black’s kingside play, Giri opted for a more positional approach hoping to thwart Black’s ambitions. He believed he had a good position, but after Grischuk had activated his pieces on the kingside it became clear that there was little ground for White’s optimism. The game ended with a repetition of moves, after which Giri concluded: ‘Maybe it was a quite logical game after all.’ The rapid game saw a Grünfeld Defence and ended in a convincing win for Grischuk.

Grischuk,Alexander (2747) - Giri,Anish (2690) [D90]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (9), 22.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qb3 dxc4 7.Qxc4 a6 8.Bf4 Nc6 9.Rd1 0-0 10.e3 Rc8 11.Be2 Na7 12.0-0 Nb5 13.Be5 Be6 14.d5!

14...Bd7. Giri had clearly missed White's previous move and had to move his bishop back, since he realized that 14...Nxc3 15.dxe6 Nxd1 16.exf7+ Rxf7 17.Ng5 would spell disaster. 15.Qb3 Nd6 16.Nd4 Rb8 17.h3 c5 18.Ne6! Another unpleasant surprise: 18...fxe6 19.dxe6 and now 19...c4 20.Bxc4 Ba4 21.Nxa4 b5 22.Bxd6 bxc4 23.Qxb8 leads nowhere. 19...Kh8 20.exd7 Qxd7 21.Qb6 Qc6 22.Qxc6 bxc6 23.b3 Nfe4 24.Nxe4 Bxe5 25.Nxc5 Ra8 26.Nd7 1-0.

Magnus Carlsen stormed into the hospitality lounge after he had lost the blindfold game against Vishy Anand. With quick movements he showed on a chess board that he had completely unnecessarily lost the ending, proving his point with variations. Of course he was right, but he had been lost earlier on.

Carlsen,Magnus (2815) - Anand,Viswanathan (2817) [B23]
20th Amber Blindfold Monaco MNC (9), 22.03.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bb5+ Bd7 6.Bc4 Nc6 7.0-0 Na5 8.d3 Nxc4 9.dxc4 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Bc6 11.e5 Qc7 12.Qd3 f5 13.Ng5 h6 14.Qh3 dxe5 15.Be3 e4 16.Ne6 Qc8 17.Nxc5 Nf6 18.Bd4 Kf7 19.Rae1 a5 20.Re2 b5 21.Nb3 bxc4 22.Nd2 Bd5 23.Rfe1 Qd8 24.Qh4 e6 25.Rb1 Qe7 26.Nxc4 Nd7 27.Qxe7+ Kxe7 28.Ne3 Rhb8 29.Rxb8 Rxb8 30.c4 Bc6 31.Rd2 e5 32.Bxe5 Nxe5 33.fxe5 f4 34.Nd5+ Bxd5 35.Rxd5 Rb1+ 36.Kf2

Here Anand could have won with both 36…e3+ or even 36…Rc1, but not with 36...Rb2? 37.Rd4 Rxc2+ 38.Kf1 f3 39.gxf3 exf3 40.Rd6 g5 41.Rxh6 Rxa2 42.h3

Now 42...Rh2 could have won for Black, but Anand went for 42...a4?, which only leads to a draw. However Carlsen returns the favour: 43.Rf6? This loses outright. 43...Ra1+ 44.Kf2 a3 45.Ra6 a2 and because of e.g. 46.c5 Rh1 47.Rxa2 Rh2+ the result is 0-1.

Carlsen had his revenge with surprising ease in the rapid game. After the opening, a Ruy Lopez with 4.Qe2, he was slightly worse, but then, to quote Carlsen, Anand ‘began to drift’. Black took over and the white position disintegrated rapidly. After 43 moves the World Champion had had enough.

In the blindfold game between Hikaru Nakamura and Veselin Topalov, the Bulgarian ex-world champion got a huge advantage from the opening. However, when it was time to strike he chose the wrong move order (21…Bxf6 22.Qxh6 Bxg4 would have put White in big trouble), letting his opponent back into the game. Now the players were fighting for every inch on the board and gradually White took over. When his position was about to collapse, Topalov threw the towel. The rapid game was a highly entertaining skirmish full of attractive tactical shots.

Topalov,Veselin (2775) - Nakamura,Hikaru (2774) [C11]
20th Amber Rapid Monaco MNC (9), 22.03.2011
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qb6 9.Qd2 Qxb2 10.Rb1 Qa3 11.Bb5 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 a6 13.Rb3 Qe7 14.Ba4 b5 15.Bxb5 axb5 16.Nxb5 Qd8 17.Qc3 Qa5 18.Nc7+ Kd8 19.Nxa8 Qxa8 20.0-0 Qa4 21.Kh1 Be7 22.Rfb1 f6 23.exf6 gxf6? 23...Bxf6 was necessary.

24.Rb6! Qxa2. 24...Nxb6 25.Bxb6+ Kd7 26.Qc7+ Ke8 27.Qxc8+ Kf7 28.Qxh8. 25.Re1 Qc4 26.Rbxe6 Bb4?? Just when it looked like he might hold Black throws it away. 27.Bxf6+ Nxf6 28.Qxf6+ Kc7 29.Re7+? 29.Qe5 wins on the spot. Now Black has some chances, although the Bulgarian GM pulls it back in the end. 29...Bd7 30.Qe5+ Kc6 31.Qxh8 Bxe7 32.Qa8+ Kc7 33.Qa7+ Kd8 34.Qb8+ Bc8 35.Qe5 Bc5 36.f5 Qxc2 37.f6 Qf5 38.Qe8+ Kc7 39.Rc1 Kb6 40.f7 d4 41.Qd8+ Kb5 42.Qc7 1-0.

Levon Aronian arrived in an aggressive mood for the blindfold game against Vladimir Kramnik, believing that given his opponent’s poor form this was a good moment to go decisively into the lead. After 16.Bh6 he concluded that he had a big advantage, and that after the queen exchange his opponent was actually lost. ‘The game remained interesting, but I played accurately and brought home the bacon,’ to which he added with a deadpan expression: ‘Although I don’t eat bacon.’

In the rapid game Aronian played the Grünfeld, not his everyday defence. In a long post-mortem Kramnik tried to prove why he had been happy with his position and had cherished hopes to win. Aronian was not convinced and felt he had not been in any real danger. The result supported the Armenian’s view as after 42 moves the draw was a fact.

The blindfold game between former compatriots Vasily Ivanchuk and Sergey Karjakin ended in a draw. Ukraine’s Ivanchuk achieved little against the Nimzo-Indian of Karjakin, who these days plays under the Russian flag. Black got a nice pull, but White had enough play to keep the balance and after 33 moves they called it a day. The rapid game was the longest of the day, lasting 117 moves. From a French Defence Ivanchuk got a good game, until inaccurate play gave Karjakin the opportunity to take over the initiative. But he didn’t enjoy this luxury for long, as Ivanchuk fought back to get the initiative again and managed to get an endgame with an exchange against a pawn. Now Karjakin had to suffer for a lot of moves, but at the end of the day he saved the draw.

Standings after the ninth round

Blindfold
 
Rapid
 
Combined
1. Aronian
7
2. Anand
3. Gashimov
5
  Grischuk
5
4. Carlsen
  Karjakin
  Nakamura
5. Gelfand
4
  Ivanchuk
4
  Topalov
4
6. Giri
7. Kramnik
 
1. Carlsen
2. Aronian
6
3. Ivanchuk
4. Grischuk
  Topalov
5. Anand
4
  Gashimov
4
  Gelfand
4
  Nakamura
4
6. Karjakin
  Kramnik
7. Giri
3
 
1. Aronian
13
2. Carlsen
12
3. Anand
  Grischuk
  Ivanchuk
4. Gashimov
9
5. Nakamura
  Topalov
6. Gelfand
8
  Karjakin
8
7. Giri
8. Kramnik
6

Cross table of both sections

Click to enlarge


Player portraits: Hikaru Nakamura


Photo by John Nunn in Monaco

Hikaru Nakamura – United States. Elo rating: 2774, World ranking: 8, Date of birth: December 9, 1987. Amber highlights: This is his Amber debut.

Hikaru Nakamura arrived in Monaco fresh from his greatest success to date, his superb victory at the Tata Steel Tournament. Everyone could have seen the American's recent progress at the Tal Memorial and the London Chess Classic, and he himself had already expressed his dream of winning a Grand Slam event, but still his confident and fully deserved win in Wijk aan Zee was a true sensation. Because of this win his invitation to Amber looks logical, but in fact he earned the invitation the hard way. Following his dramatic result in the 2009 NH Tournament, where he was ill all through the event, Nakamura accepted the challenge to have another go at the Amber ticket in the 2010 NH Tournament. And this time it worked, although he needed some help from Anish Giri, who ruined a great performance with a collapse in the final rounds.

Nakamura learned to play chess when he was seven years old and soon he was having his first successes. At the age of ten years and 79 days he became the youngest American International Master in history. Exactly five years later he broke the legendary record of Bobby Fischer when at the age of 15 years and 79 days he became the youngest American International Grandmaster of all time. In 2004, when he was only 16 years old he became American champion for the first time.

Nakamura's play is characterized by deep concentration and an enormous will to win. Playing for the American team he won a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympiad in Turin and one year later he finished in shared first place in Gibraltar and won the Magistral d'Escacs in Barcelona. In 2009 he scored 7½ points from 8 games (TPR 3028) in the French League, won the US championship for the second time and also scored a fine tournament win in San Sebastian. Last year he excelled at the Team World Championship in Bursa and seemed to make progress in every event he took part in. Of late Nakamura has been focusing on classical chess and given less attention to rapid and blitz play, but there seems to be every reason to look forward to his Amber debut.

Source: Amber 2011 web site

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