Amber: Kramnik defeats Carlsen, Ivanchuk retains the lead

by ChessBase
3/22/2010 – Magnus Carlsen lost a key encounter with Vladimir Kramnik ½-1½, and actually couldn’t complain that he didn’t lose both games. Kramnik moved up to joint third place with Boris Gelfand, only half a point behind Carlsen. Vasily Ivanchuk retained first place in the overall standings. Monday is a free day. Europe Echecs interviewed Kramnik on the Anand-Topalov match in Sofia. Round eight 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.

Kramnik defeats Carlsen, Ivanchuk retains the lead

Vasily Ivanchuk retained first place in the overall standings after drawing both his games with Leinier Dominguez. The Ukrainian GM increased his lead over runner-up Magnus Carlsen to one point. Carlsen had a rough day. He lost the key encounter with Vladimir Kramnik ½-1½, and actually couldn’t complain that he didn’t lose both games. Kramnik moved up to joint third place with Boris Gelfand, only half a point behind Carlsen. Tomorrow is a free day. Play is resumed coming Tuesday, March 23, at 14.30 hrs.

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

Carlsen-Kramnik: In the blindfold game a fashionable gambit line of the Vienna Game appeared on the board. The Norwegian had aggressive intentions, but according to his opponent these were half-hearted. At a point where he should have gone all out for the attack Carlsen seemed to have second thoughts and tried to regain the pawn with 14.Ba3, a move that Kramnik criticized. When White started working on his kingside attack, Black was prepared (and two full pawns up) and Kramnik had no doubt that he was winning if he didn’t blunder anything. In fact he did make things more difficult for himself than necessary...

Carlsen,M (2813) - Kramnik,V (2790) [D37]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (8), 21.03.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bxc4 Nxe4 7.0-0 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Be7 9.Ne5 0-0 10.Qg4 Nc6 11.Bh6 Bf6 12.Rad1 Ne7 13.Bc1 c5 14.Ba3 Qc7 15.Qh5 Bxe5 16.dxe5 b6 17.Bd3 Ng6 18.Bc1 Bb7 19.Bg5 h6 20.Bc1 Nxe5 21.Rfe1 f6 22.f4 Nxd3 23.Rxd3 Rad8 24.Rg3 Rd5 25.Qxh6 Qd7 26.h3 Rf7 27.Kh2 Rd1 28.Rxd1 Qxd1 29.f5 e5 30.Be3 Qe2 31.Qg6 Bxg2 32.Rxg2 Qxe3 33.h4 Qf4+ 34.Kh3 e4 35.h5

Here Kramnik omitted the simple 35…Kf8, which would soon have decided the issue [35...Qf1 or 35...Qf3+ would have done so too] 35...e3 36.h6 Re7 37.Qh5. Carlsen even got a golden chance to save his skin with 37.hxg7. The engines immediately indicate this possibility as a draw, but Kramnik begged to differ. According to him there may be drawing chances for White, but he believed that Black is winning after the amazing line: 37.hxg7 Qf3+ 38.Kh2 Qxg2+ (38...Qf4+ 39.Kh3) 39.Qxg2 e2 40.Qh3 Kxg7 41.Qg3+ Kf8 42.Qe1 b5 43.Kg3 Re5 and White will have to sweat to make a draw. After Carlsen missed this chance the game was soon over.

Dominated in his match against Magnus Carlsen: Russian GM Vladimir Kramnik

The rapid game was even more spectacular. Carlsen showed that he was ready for an open fight by playing the King’s Indian, but again his play was too risky and with the ‘piece sacrifice’ 27.Bxe5 Kramnik obtained a winning position. No one doubted that the Russian was cruising to his second victory, except for Carlsen perhaps. With great determination he kept trying to pose problems and much to the amazement of the watching grandmasters he indeed managed to confuse his opponent. Or maybe Kramnik was confusing himself. In any case, watched by fascinated spectators and various colleagues Carlsen saved a draw (after 90 moves!) that might turn out to be important if four days from now when the prizes are distributed.

Grischuk-Karjakin: Easily the longest game of the first blindfold session was the encounter between Sergey Karjakin and Alexander Grischuk, lasting one hour and forty minutes (for 82 moves) and even delaying the start of the second session.

Karjakin,Sergey (2725) - Grischuk,A (2756) [B90]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (8), 21.03.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 Be6 9.Qd2 0-0 10.0-0-0 a5 11.Kb1 a4 12.Nc1 a3 13.b3 Ra5 14.Bc4 Bxc4 15.bxc4 Qc8 16.Nb3 Ra6 17.Qe2 Nc6 18.g4 Na5 19.g5 Nd7 20.Nxa5 Rxa5 21.Rd5 Ra6 22.Rb5 Rc6 23.Nd5 Bd8 24.Rb4 Re8 25.Qd3 Ba5 26.Rb5 b6 27.Qxa3 Re6 28.h4 Rxc4 29.Qb3 Rc6 30.h5 Qf8 31.g6 Kh8 32.Rf1 Qg8 33.f4 fxg6 34.hxg6 exf4 35.Rxf4 Ne5 36.gxh7 Qe8 37.Bxb6 Bxb6 38.Rxb6 Nc4 39.Rb8 Nd2+ 40.Kb2 Nxb3 41.Rxe8+ Rxe8 42.cxb3 Kxh7 43.a4 g5 44.Rg4 Kh6 45.a5 Rc5 46.b4 Rb8 47.Ka3 Rc1 48.Kb2 Rc5 49.a6 Ra5 50.Rg3 Rxa6 51.Rb3 Ra4 52.Kc3 g4 53.Kc4 Kg5 54.Nc3 Rc8+ 55.Kd4 Rxc3 56.Kxc3 g3 57.Rb2 Kf4 58.Kd4 Kf3 59.Rb3+ Kf4 60.Rb2 Ra6 61.b5 Rb6 62.Kd5 Kf3 63.Rb3+ Kg4 64.Rb1 g2

65.e5 dxe5 66.Kxe5 Rxb5+ 67.Rxb5 g1Q and now Karjakin tries to defend a R vs Q ending that Grischuk knows how to win – even blindfold. 68.Rb4+ Kg5 69.Rb5 Qe3+ 70.Kd6+ Kf6 71.Rc5 Qe6+ 72.Kc7 Ke7 73.Rh5 Qd7+ 74.Kb6 Qd4+ 75.Kc7 Qf4+ 76.Kb6 Kd6 77.Rb5 Qa4 78.Rg5 Qd4+ 79.Kb7 Qe4+ 80.Ka6 Kc6 81.Ka5 Qb1 82.Rh5 Qe1+ 0-1.

The course of the rapid game was determined when Grischuk sacrificed his bishop.

Alexander Grischuk in his round eight rapid chess game against Sergey Karjakin

Grischuk,A (2756) - Karjakin,Sergey (2725) [D16]
19th Amber Rapid Nice FRA (8), 21.03.2010
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 e6 6.e3 c5 7.Bxc4 Nc6 8.0-0 Be7 9.Qe2 cxd4 10.exd4 0-0 11.Rd1 Nd5 12.Qe4 Nf6 13.Qh4 Nb4 14.Bg5 h6 15.Bd2 b6 16.Ne5 Bb7

17.Bxh6?! gxh6 18.Qxh6 Nh7 19.Bd3 Nxd3 20.Rxd3 Bg5 21.Qh5 Qf6 22.Rh3 Qg7 23.Rg3 Rfd8 24.Nf3 Bxf3 25.Qxf3 Qh6 26.Ne4 Kf8 27.Rh3 Qg6 28.Rg3 Qh6 29.Rh3 Qg7 30.Rg3 Qh6 ½-½.

After analysing with his opponent Grischuk summed up the game with his typical irony: ‘We discovered that we both played badly.’ According to him the sacrifice would have been unsound if Black had gone 23…Rad8 instead of 23…Tfd8. And Black would have been better if he had gone 26…Kh8 instead of 26…Kf8. And instead of the repetition of moves at the end his conclusion was that White should have played on with 30.Rxh7 Qxh7 31.Nxg5 Qf5 32.Qe3. To balance all this self-criticism it may be added that the computer does not entirely share these findings. So, perhaps they didn’t play that badly after all.

Cuban GM Leinier Dominguez

Ivanchuk-Dominguez: The opening of the blindfold game between Vasily Ivanchuk and Leinier Dominguez was a Sicilian Najdorf, in which the Cuban grandmaster chose his pet Najdorf and once again went for the ultra-sharp line starting with 7…Nc6, an approach that he himself also called ‘dangerous’. He got a good game and even felt that he was better, but in the ensuing phase he failed to prove anything concrete and a draw was agreed. In the rapid game Ivanchuk came well-prepared for the Sicilian line that Dominguez had already played on various occasions. The Cuban grandmaster sat thinking hard to remember his work on this line and possible ways to get an advantage. He couldn’t solve all his problems and already in quite serious time-trouble he fled into a rook endgame in which he had to fight for survival. That task he acquitted himself of well and after 54 moves he saved the draw.

Kramnik on the Anand-Topalov match [video reports by Europe Echecs]

Standings after the eighth round (official)

1.  Grischuk   6    
2. Carlsen 5
Ivanchuk 5
4. Gelfand 4½
Karjakin 4½
Kramnik 4½
7. Gashimov 4
Svidler 4
9. Aronian 3
Ponomariov 3
Smeets 3
12. Dominguez 1½
1.  Ivanchuk   6    
2. Carlsen 5
Gelfand 5
Kramnik 5
5. Gashimov 4½
Karjakin 4½
Svidler 4½
8. Aronian 4
9. Ponomariov 3½
10. Grischuk 3
11. Dominguez 2
12. Smeets 1
1.  Ivanchuk   11    
2. Carlsen 10
3. Gelfand 9½
Kramnik 9½
5. Grischuk 9
Karjakin 9
7. Gashimov 8½
Svidler 8½
9. Aronian 7
10. Ponomariov 6½
11. Smeets 4
12. Dominguez 3½

Player portraits

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!

Photos by Nadja Wittmann


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