Amber: Carlsen and Ivanchuk win 19th Amber

by ChessBase
3/26/2010 – The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament has ended in an overall victory for Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Ukraine’s Vasily Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk caught up with the leading Carlsen in the final round thanks to a 1½-½ victory over Boris Gelfand, while Magnus shared the points with Alexander Grischuk with one win apiece. Big pictorial report with some really cool Google imagery of Nice.

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The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament, organized by the Association Max Euwe in Monaco, took place from March 13 (first round) to March 25 (last round) at the Palais de la Mediterranée, splendidly located on the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice. The total prize fund was € 216,000. Every day four sessions were played, two blindfold sessions and two rapid sessions. The rate of play was 25 minutes per game per player. With every move made in the blindfold games 20 seconds were added to the clock, with every move made in the rapid games 10 seconds were added.

Carlsen and Ivanchuk win 19th Amber

Blindfold Chess Round eleven   Rapid Chess Round eleven
Gashimov-Svidler ½-½   Svidler-Gashimov ½-½
Dominguez-Aronian 0-1   Aronian-Dominguez ½-½
Ponomariov-Smeets ½-½   Smeets-Ponomariov 0-1
Gelfand-Ivanchuk ½-½   Ivanchuk-Gelfand 1-0
Kramnik-Karjakin 1-0   Karjakin-Kramnik 1-0
Grischuk-Carlsen 1-0   Carlsen-Grischuk 1-0

Gelfand-Ivanchuk: Boris Gelfand was confronted by an interesting novelty in his blindfold game against Vasily Ivanchuk. In a well-known position the Ukrainian grandmaster introduced an inspired exchange sacrifice. Gelfand looked hard to find ways to exploit his material advantage, but when he failed to see a concrete way to make progress he accepted a draw by a repetition of moves on move 33.

The rapid game saw a Petroff with 5.c3 that soon got very complicated. Gelfand seemed to be in control, but Ivanchuk was relentless and whipped up a devastating attack that crashed through in only 32 moves.

Ivanchuk,V (2748) - Gelfand,B (2750) [C42]
19th Amber Rapid Nice FRA (11), 25.03.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nd7 9.0-0-0 Re8 10.h4 c6 11.Kb1 Qa5 12.h5 h6 13.Bd3 Bf8 14.g4 Nf6 15.g5 Be6 16.a3 Ng4 17.gxh6 Qd5 18.Qe2 Qa2+ 19.Kc1 Qa1+ 20.Kd2 Qxb2

Gelfand has gone pawn hunting on the queenside with his king under deadly serious attack. This devil-may-care attitude is harshly punished by Ivanchuk. 21.Rdg1. Now all of White's pieces are aimed at the black king. 21...Bd7 22.Rxg4 Bxg4 23.Ng5 Be6 24.Bd4 Qa2 25.Rg1 c5 26.Bh7+ Kh8 27.hxg7+ Bxg7 28.Nxf7+ Bxf7 29.Bxg7+ Kxh7 30.Qd3+ Kg8 31.Bf6+ Kf8 32.Qxd6+ 1-0. With this win Ivanchuk was guaranteed at least an equal first in the tournament.

Grischuk-Carlsen: The blindfold game between Alexander Grischuk and Magnus Carlsen, the leader and runner-up in the blindfold standings, took a dramatic turn when the Norwegian believed that his opponent’s queen was on a different square. Till that point he had conducted an excellent game and had gradually outplayed Grischuk on the black side of a King’s Indian.

Grischuk,A (2756) - Carlsen,M (2813) [E70]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (11), 25.03.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bg5 0-0 6.Qd2 Na6 7.Bd3 e5 8.d5 Qe8 9.Nge2 Nh5 10.f3 f5 11.0-0-0 Nc5 12.Bc2 Bd7 13.Rde1 fxe4 14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.fxe4 b5 16.cxb5 Rf2 17.Rhg1 Nf4 18.Qe3 Rxg2 19.Nxf4 exf4 20.Bxf4 Rxg1 21.Rxg1 Qe7 22.Bd3 Rf8 23.Rf1 Qh4. If instead Carlsen had played 23…Qf6, White would have faced a tougher task. 24.Bg3 Rxf1+ 25.Bxf1

25...Qxe4?? Carlsen believed White’s queen was still on d2 and thought he was capturing an unprotected pawn on e4. 26.Qxe4 and there was nothing to do but to resign.1-0.

In the rapid session Carlsen had to defeat Alexander Grischuk to assemble the same number of points as Ivanchuk. He didn’t obtain a real advantage, but it was ‘complicated enough’. And he felt that his position was easier to play, which he proved in the middlegame when he managed to create a serious advantage. By the time Ivanchuk won his rapid game against Gelfand and walked over to have a brief look at Carlsen’s game, the Ukrainian grandmaster understood that he and Carlsen were going to be the joint winners of the 19th Amber tournament.

Kramnik-Karjakin: ‘It’s getting hot all of a sudden’, commented Vladimir Kramnik after he had won the blindfold game against Sergey Karjakin, obviously referring to the overall standings that suddenly offered chances for him again.

In the rapid game Kramnik fought for his last chance with a Pirc. Not hiding his intentions he sacrificed a knight for two pawns, but he failed to shock Karjakin, who called the sacrifice ‘dubious’. White got a slightly better position, but he needed to make some precise moves to really shake off the black pressure, such as 21.Nc3 and 22.Ra4. Gradually Karjakin took over the initiative and decided the game in a fierce kingside attack.

Final standings (after the eleventh round, official)

1.  Grischuk   8    
2. Carlsen 6½
Ivanchuk 6½
Kramnik 6½
5. Gelfand 6
6. Gashimov 5½
Karjakin 5½
Svidler 5½
9. Aronian 5
10. Ponomariov 4½
11. Smeets 4
12. Dominguez 2½
1.  Carlsen    8    
Ivanchuk 8
3. Karjakin 6½
Kramnik 6½
5. Aronian 6
Gashimov 6
Svidler 6
8. Gelfand 5½
9. Grischuk 4½
Ponomariov 4½
11. Dominguez 2½
12. Smeets 2
1.  Carlsen    14½
Ivanchuk 14½
3. Kramnik 13
4. Grischuk 12½
5. Karjakin 12
6. Gashimov 11½
Gelfand 11½
Svidler 11½
9. Aronian 11
10. Ponomariov 9
11. Smeets 6
12. Dominguez 5

Cross table

Statistics: Of the 120 games played in Nice 52 or 39% were drawn. White won 46 games = 35%, Black 34 games = 26%. For Magnus Carlsen we record only 14% draws = three games, 27% = six games lost and 59% = 13 games won. Ivanchuk had 68% draws, 32% wins and 0% losses. Carlsen lost three games and won seven with the white pieces; he won six games and lost three with black. Ivanchuk won four games with white and three games with black.

Player biography

Vasily Ivanchuk - Ukraine, Elo rating: 2748, World ranking: 11, born March 18, 1969, Amber highlights: Overall winner in 1992, 2nd in 1996, 1997, 2000 (shared) and 2002.

Vasily Ivanchuk is the only player who has taken part in all nineteen Amber tournaments, which says two things. To begin with, that the Ukrainian grandmaster has been a member of the world elite for some twenty years already and secondly, that the affection is mutual. ‘Chuky’, as his colleagues and fans call him, loves the unique atmosphere of the event. In 1992 he was the overall winner and several times he was the runner-up, but even if he struggling with his form every opponent knows that he can wake up any moment and produce a brilliancy.

Ivanchuk is one of the greatest players of modern time, both adored by chess lovers and admired by his fellow-grandmasters, who sometimes speak about ‘Planet Chuky’, to indicate that sometimes he is moving in different spheres. The Ukrainian number one is one of the most active players on the circuit, tirelessly travelling the globe and taking part in one tournament after the other. At 40 (he will celebrate his 41st birthday in Nice!) he is also living proof that ‘older’ players can still play a prominent role at the top of the chess Olympus.

Ivanchuk’s international career took off after he’d won the Junior World Championship in 1988. Already the next year he won the Linares super-tournament for the first time, a win he would repeat in 1991 and 1995 (and in 2009 he scored the same number of points as winner Grischuk). He also won the Tilburg super-tournament in 1990 and in the years that followed he won so many tournaments that even a selection produces a long list: Munich 1994, Horgen 1995, Wijk aan Zee 1996, Belgrade 1997, Tallinn 2000, Malmö 2003, European Championship 2004, Havana 2005, Odessa 2006, Merida 2006, Foros 2007, MTel Masters Sofia 2008, Tal Memorial Moscow 2008. Apart from these classical events he also won the Blitz World Championship in 2007 and the Tal Memorial Blitz in 2008.

A completely different and no less impressive story are his achievements in team competitions. He’s played in eleven Olympiads and three times he was on the team that won the gold medals. Twice, in 1988 and 1990, for the Soviet Union, and once, in 2004, for Ukraine, an achievement that he counts among the dearest in his career.

Returning to his individual results, in the past year he maintained his high level and achieved excellent victories in Bazna and the Jermuk Grand Prix. We look forward to see him in action in Amber again, both at the chess board and at the ‘shovelboard’, where he is no mean player either!

Impressions of Nice

Google satellite view of the venue – for you to explore in the frame or on a larger map

Amazing 3D street view, which again you can explore in the frame or on a larger map

Note that in the above images you can use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out, or the left mouse button to grab and pan. In the 3D street view you can double-click certain sections to change the vantage point. You can even coast all along the Promenade des Anglais or explore the city of Nice.

The Palais de la Mediterranée, a five-star luxury hotel on the Promenade des Anglais
where the grandmasters stayed and played. On the balcony of the first floor a mysterious figure...

We kid you not: the figure is from an exhibition of sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle

The figure is made of polyester over a wire framework and are generically called "Nanas"

The indoor-outdoor hotel pool, visible in the satellite imagery by Google above

The promenade along the Mediterranean in front of the hotel

Street-side cafés along inside the city of Nice (pronounced "nees" as in niece)

Market stalls in the city

Fresh fruit at the market

The famous House of Olives store

Typical architecture in Nice

Monument, palm trees and a giant Ferris wheel

A dinghy that a local resident has anchored in the harbour

Photos by Nadja Wittmann


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