Amber: Carlsen's winning streak ends after seven games

by ChessBase
3/18/2010 – It must surely be a record: seven wins in a row for the Norwegian super-talent Magnus Carlsen. But he was stopped by a defeat at the hands of Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine. Boris Gelfand, Vladimir Kramnik and Peter Svidler all scored 2-0 wins, while Vassily Ivanchuk celebrated his 41st birthday by regaining the overall lead at the Amber tournament. Round five report.

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The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament, organized by the Association Max Euwe in Monaco, is taking 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 is € 216,000.

Every day four sessions will be played, two blindfold sessions and two rapid sessions. The first session starts at 14.30 hrs. The fourth session finishes around 20.00 hrs. Note: the final round on March 25 starts at 12.30 hrs. March 17 and 22 are rest days. 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 five

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

Vasily Ivanchuk regains the lead on his 41st birthday

Vasily Ivanchuk, who celebrated his 41st birthday today, grabbed the sole lead in the overall standings with a 1½-½ win over Jan Smeets. Magnus Carlsen saw a winning streak of seven consecutive wins interrupted by Sergey Karjakin. The Norwegian top-seed is now in second place together with Boris Gelfand, who defeated Leinier Dominguez 2-0 (scoring his fourth consecutive win in the process).

A video interview by Europe Echecs with Vassily Ivanchuk for his 41st birthday

Karjakin-Carlsen: Perhaps the question most people were asking themselves at the start of this blindfold game was whether the Norwegian would continue his winning streak or that the Ukrainian would slow him down. And indeed, despite the fact that he had the black pieces Carlsen managed to win his seventh consecutive game. It was certainly impressive how he first solved his opening problems and next started to look for more.

Karjakin,Sergey (2725) - Carlsen,M (2813) [C65]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (5), 18.03.2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 d6 5.0-0 Be7 6.c3 a6 7.Ba4 0-0 8.Nbd2 Nd7 9.Bc2 Nb6 10.d4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxd4 12.cxd4 f5 13.Bb3+ Kh8 14.e5 f4 15.exd6 Qxd6 16.Re1 f3 17.Nxf3 Bg4 18.Re3 Bh4 19.Qd3 Bxf3 20.Rxf3 Rxf3 21.gxf3 Re8 22.Be3 Nd5 23.Kh1 Nxe3 24.fxe3 Bf2 25.Bc2 g6 26.Rf1 Bxe3 27.Re1 Qf4 28.Qe2 Re7 29.d5 Re5 30.Be4 Bc5 31.Qc2 Bd6 32.Re2 Kg7 33.Rg2 Rh5

Carlsen was pleased when Karjakin let himself be tempted to play 34.Bxg6, as he had sharply calculated the consequences of this move. Still, it wasn’t clear if Black’s advantage was winning, but with Karjakin in severe time-trouble and the pressure building up on him he faced an arduous task. 34.Bxg6 Rxh2+ 35.Rxh2 Qxf3+ 36.Kg1 Bxh2+ 37.Kxh2 Qf4+ 38.Kg2 hxg6

After the game Magnus wasn’t entirely sure if he had played the queen endgame perfectly, but the way he played it was enough to score another point.39.Qc3+ Kf8 40.Qb3 b5 41.Qa3+ Qd6 42.Qd3 Qf6 43.Qc2 Qg5+ 44.Kh2 Qe5+ 45.Kg1 Qg5+ 46.Kh2 Qe5+ 47.Kg1 g5 48.Qg6 a5 49.Qa6 Qd4+ 50.Kf1 Qb6 51.Qc8+ Ke7 52.Ke2 Qd6 53.Qa8 a4 54.b3 Qh2+ 55.Kd3 Qxa2 56.d6+ Kd7 57.dxc7 Qxb3+ 58.Ke4 Qe6+ 59.Kf3 Qf5+ 60.Ke3 Qc5+ 61.Ke4 Kxc7 62.Qa5+ Kb7 63.Qd2 Qc4+ 64.Kf5 Qf4+ 0-1.

Stopped the winning streak: Sergey Karjakin, who is nine months older than Magnus Carlsen

Carlsen’s winning streak ended in the rapid game. Dithering opening play didn’t bring him anything and when Karjakin stepped up his counterplay, dark clouds gathered over the white position. Carlsen tried his best to muddy the waters but in fact his fate was sealed well before the end of the game.

Aronian-Svidler: this was a "wildly exciting" (Svidler) blindfold game, a sharp anti-Grünfeld in which Black’s position looked under threat. With 21…Qe4 he took over the initiative, but White crawled back into the game and a manoeuvring phase ended in a drawish position. At this point, however, Aronian had little time left and lost control. First he spurned a repetition of moves and next he put his queen en prise.

Aronian,L (2782) - Svidler,P (2750) [A15]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (5), 18.03.2010
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.h4 Bg7 6.h5 Nc6 7.d4 Bf5 8.Bd2 e5 9.dxe5 Nxe5 10.e4 Nxc3 11.Bxc3 Qe7 12.Bb5+ c6 13.Bxe5 Bxe5 14.exf5 Bxb2+ 15.Be2 Rd8 16.Qb1 Bc3+ 17.Kf1 gxf5 18.a4 Bxa1 19.Qxa1 Rg8 20.Rh4 Rg4 21.g3 Qe4 22.Qb2 Rxh4 23.gxh4 b6 24.h6 Rd6 25.a5 b5 26.a6 Ke7 27.Qc1 Re6 28.Ng1 Kd7 29.h5 Re5 30.Qg5 b4 31.Qg8 Ke7 32.Qb8 Qd4 33.Qc7+ Kf6 34.Qxc6+ Re6 35.Qc8 Ke7 36.Qb7+ Kf8 37.Qb8+ Ke7 38.Qc7+ Kf8 39.Qb8+ Ke7 40.Bf3 Qb6

41.Qe5?? No idea. Absolutely none. Not a clue. 41...Rxe5 0-1. After he’d also won the rapid game, Svidler suppressed his happiness with the words "Today Levon had one of those days that I normally have."

Dominguez Perez,L (2713) - Gelfand,B (2750) [C42]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (5), 18.03.2010
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 Ne5 14.Nxe5 dxe5 15.Qe2 Be6 16.Bc4 Bxc4 17.Qxc4 Rad8 18.Qg4 Kf8 19.Rd7 Rxd7 20.Qxd7 Qd5 21.Qxd5 cxd5 22.Bxa7 Ra8 23.Be3 b5 24.Rd1 Rd8 25.b4 f6 26.Kb2 Kf7 27.Kb3 Ke6 28.a4 bxa4+ 29.Kxa4 f5 30.Re1 e4 31.Kb3 Bf6 32.Ra1 Rc8 33.Ra6+ Kf7 34.Ra7+ Ke6 35.Ra6+ Kf7 36.Bd4 f4 37.b5 e3 38.fxe3 fxe3 39.Ra1 e2 40.Re1 Re8

After the game Gelfand was full of praise for his opponent’s opening play, and in the above position the Cuban had victory within his grasp: after 41.Bxf6 Kxf6 (or 41...gxf6 ) 42.c4 Re3+ 43.Kb4 Re4 44.Ka5 Ke6 45.b6 and White is winning. But he played 41.g3? Bg5 42.Bf2 Bd2 43.Ra1 e1Q 44.Bxe1 Bxe1 which left his opponent from Israel on the path to victory. 45.Rd1 Re3 46.Rxd5 Rxc3+ 47.Kb2 Rxg3 48.c4 Rg5 49.Rd6 Bg3 50.Rc6 Rxh5 51.b6 Re5 52.b7 Re7 53.Rb6 Bb8 54.c5 h5 55.c6 h4 56.Rb3 Re6 57.Rc3 Bc7 58.Kb3 h3 59.Rd3 h2 60.Rd7+ Kg6 0-1. Boris Gelfand won the rapid chess game as well and cored his fourth consecutive win in this tournament.

Kramnik-Ponomariov: The former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik scored a convincing win against Ruslan Ponomariov in their blindfold game, leaving his opponent to muse that he should not play so adventurously and instead strive for a healthy position. But once he sat down for the rapid game he had already forgotten about most of this wisdom and went for wild adventures again and ended the game in a blunder:

Ponomariov,R (2737) - Kramnik,V (2790) [D38]
19th Amber Rapid Nice FRA (5), 18.03.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 d5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 c5 8.dxc5 0-0 9.Rc1 g5 10.Bg3 Ne4 11.e3 Qa5 12.Be5 Qxa2 13.Bd3 Qxb2 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Rc2 Qb3 16.Nd2 Qe6 17.Bd6 Rd8 18.0-0 b6 19.Ncxe4 Nd7 20.Qa1 bxc5 21.Rb1?

21...Bxd2 22.Bc7 [22.Rxd2 Qxe4 or 22.Nxd2 Qxd6] 22...Qxe4 23.Rxd2 Re8 0-1.

Video report by Europe Echecs (with short statements by Magnus Carlsen and Vugar Gashimov)

Standings after the fifth round (official)

1.  Carlsen    4    
2. Gelfand 3½
Grischuk 3½
Ivanchuk 3½
5. Gashimov 2½
Karjakin 2½
Kramnik 2½
Ponomariov 2½
Svidler 2½
10. Aronian 1½
11. Smeets 1
12. Dominguez ½
1.  Ivanchuk   4    
2. Gelfand 3½
Kramnik 3½
4. Carlsen 3
Svidler 3
6. Gashimov 2½
7. Aronian 2
Grischuk 2
Karjakin 2
Ponomariov 2
11. Dominguez 1½
12. Smeets 1
1.  Ivanchuk   7½
2. Carlsen 7
Gelfand 7
4. Kramnik 6
5. Grischuk 5½
Svidler 5½
7. Gashimov 5
8. Karjakin 4½
Ponomariov 4½
10. Aronian 3½
11. Dominguez 2
Smeets 2

Cross table

Free day

On Wednesday the participants of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament enjoyed a free day. Some of them stayed at the hotel to recharge their batteries, others joined an excursion to...

... Gourdon, an age-old mountain village ...

... perched on a rock 780 meters above sea-level ...

... with a splendid view of the surrounding natural scenery.

At the end of the afternoon the players who took part in the excursion returned to the Palais de la Méditerranée, where they were joined by their colleagues at a Quiz evening.

Ruslan Ponomariov, who was on the winning team, astounded all and sundry with
his passionate rendition of We Are the Champions.

Photos by Nadja Wittmann


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