Amber shocker: Anand draws a game

3/22/2005 – Chess fans all over the world were stunned. Vishy Anand, who had won seven straight games in the Amber Tournament in Monaco drew the eighth against Vladimir Kramnik. Accompanied, we believe, by a sigh of disappointment by the Guinness people. Still there was a lot of excitement and not a few amusing and tragic scenes in Monaco.

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The Fourteenth Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament will take place at the Monte Carlo Grand Hôtel in Monaco, from 19th to 31st March 2005. The Dutch billionaire J.J. van Oosterom is the exclusive sponsor of this event.

Please note that the selection of games discussed below can all be replayed on our JavaScript board. Clicking on the link behind each game opens a separate window which you can position next to the text (and keep open for the next game). To follow the moves and analysis you can use the navigation buttons below the board or simply click on the notation.


Monte Carlo, a city to relax and enjoy...


...with amply parking space for these magnificent vehicles

Round three

Blindfold
Morozevich-Svidler 1/2
Bareev-Leko 0-1
Gelfand-Van Wely 1-0
Anand-Vallejo 1-0
Kramnik-Topalov 1-0
Shirov-Ivanchuk 0-1
Rapid
Svidler-Morozevich 0-1
Leko-Bareev 1-0
Van Wely-Gelfand 1/2
Vallejo-Anand 0-1
Topalov-Kramnik 1/2
Ivanchuk-Shirov 1/2


The unstoppable – Indian GM Vishy Anand, number two in the world rankings

Vishy Anand continued his rampage with another 2-0 victory over his friend and place-of-residence compatriot Francisco Vallejo Pons. With 6-0 points Anand was already two points ahead of the field, which has an odd ring to it when you think that this "field" consisted of Kramnik, Leko, Svidler and Ivanchuk. The blindfold game against Vallejo was sharp and dangerous, but Anand knew his way around much better and won the game convincingly.

Anand,V (2786) - Vallejo Pons,F (2686) [B90]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (3), 21.03.2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.g4 h6 8.Bg2 e5 9.Nf5 g6.

10.Qe2. White sacrifices a piece to enhance the power of the bishop pair (especially the light-squared bishop). In many games this move has been extremely favourable for White. 10...gxf5 11.exf5 Bd7. A new move. Vallejo decides to give up the exchange in an attempt to neutralise the white attack 12.Bxb7 Bc6 13.Bxa8 Bxa8 14.Rg1 Nbd7 15.0-0-0 Be7 16.h4 Qa5 17.Bd2 Nd5 18.Nxd5 Qxd5 19.Qxa6 Bb7 20.Qa3 Qc6 21.Bb4 Nb6 22.g5 hxg5 23.hxg5 Kd7 24.f6 Nc4 25.Qc3 Bf8 26.b3 Nb6 27.Qxe5 Rh4 28.Bxd6 Qxd6 29.Rxd6+ Bxd6 30.Rd1 Nc8 31.g6 Rh1 32.Qf5+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

The rapid game was a bit of a sea-saw affair, until Vallejo started to play inaccurately and Anand was able to strike.

Vallejo Pons,F (2686) - Anand,V (2786) [A33]
Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC (3), 21.03.2005
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.a3 Be7 7.e4 0-0 8.Nf3 b6 9.Be2 Bb7 10.0-0 Qc7 11.Bg5 Rad8 12.Rc1 Qb8 13.Re1 h6 14.Bh4 d6 15.Bf1 Rfe8 16.Nd4 Nxd4 17.Qxd4 g5 18.Bg3 Nh5 19.Be2 Bf6 20.Qd3 Nxg3 21.hxg3 Bc6 22.b4 Be5 23.Bh5 Rf8 24.Ne2 Bg7 25.Nd4 Bd7 26.Rf1 a5 27.Kh1 axb4 28.axb4 Qa7 29.f4 e5 30.Nf5 Bxf5 31.exf5 exf4 32.gxf4 Bf6 33.Bf3 Kg7 34.Bc6 g4 35.Rb1 h5 36.Rb3 Rc8 37.b5 Qe7 38.Qe3 Qxe3 39.Rxe3 Bd4 40.Re7 Kf6 41.Ra7 g3. Now the white king is completely and permanently immobilised. This is going to end in mate. 42.Rd1 Bc5 43.Re1 h4.

The game has reached a critical point. 44.Ree7 d5 45.Red7 dxc4. 45...Rce8 46.Ra1 dxc4 was perhaps more convincing. 46.Bd5 (threatening ...Rxf7 and Rxf7#) 46...Kxf5 47.Rxf7+ Rxf7 48.Rxf7+ Kg6 49.f5+ Kg5 50.Rg7+ Kf4 51.Bf3 Re8 52.Rg4+ Kxf5 53.Re4 Rxe4 54.Bxe4+ Stalemate trap! The bishop cannot be taken. 54...Kf4 55.Bd5 c3 56.Bb3 Bf2 57.Bc2 Ke3 58.Bb3 Kd2 59.Ba4 Be1 60.Bb3 c2 0-1. [Click to replay]

Boris Gelfand won a very nice blindfold game against Loek van Wely. It illustrates how incredibly well players are able to calculate even when they have no board to anchor their thoughts.

Gelfand,B (2696) - Van Wely,L (2679) [A30]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (3), 21.03.2005
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.d4 cxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 9.b3 Nbd7 10.Bb2 0-0 11.Rfd1 Rc8 12.Rac1 a6 13.Qd2 Rc5 14.Ba3 Rc7 15.Ne1 Qa8 16.Bxb7 Qxb7 17.Nd3 Rfc8 18.Nb4 e6 19.Qxd6 Bf8 20.Qd2 b5.

21.Nxa6! In the bar after the game Gelfand confirmed (to Vishy Anand) that he had this move in mind when he played 19.Qxd6. White gets three pawns for the piece and can win a fine attacking game. 21...Bxa3 22.Nxc7 Bxc1 23.Rxc1 Qxc7 24.Nxb5 Qe5 25.b4 Nb6 26.c5 Nbd5 27.Nd6 Ne4 28.f4 Nxd2 29.fxe5 Ra8 30.c6 Rxa2 31.c7 Nxc7 32.Rxc7 Rb2 33.b5 Rb4 34.Rc6 Ne4 35.b6 Kg7 36.Kg2 Nxd6 37.exd6 Kf6 38.Rc8 1-0. [Click to replay]

The blindfold game between Kramnik and Topalov contained errors and missed chances, but in the end the more forceful player won the day.


Vladimir Kramnik outfoxing his third round opponent Veselin Topalov

Kramnik,V (2754) - Topalov,V (2757) [C88]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (3), 21.03.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.h3 Bb7 9.d3 d6 10.a3 Nb8 11.Nbd2 Nbd7 12.Nf1 Re8 13.Ne3 Nc5 14.Ba2 h6 15.Nh2 Bc8 16.b4 Ne6 17.Nf5 Bf8 18.Ng4 c6 19.Bd2 Kh7 20.Qf3 Nxg4 21.hxg4 Qf6 22.Qh3 Nf4 23.Qh2 g6 24.Ne3 Be6 25.Bb1 d5 26.g3 dxe4 27.dxe4 Rad8 28.Bc3 Qg5 29.f3 Bd6 30.Kh1 c5 31.gxf4 exf4 32.Nf5 Bf8 33.Rg1 Rc8 34.Bd2 Qf6 35.c3 gxf5 36.gxf5 Bc4 37.Bxf4 Qxc3.

38.Qg3. The first missed chance. 38.Qh5! Qxa1 (38...Be2 39.Bd3!) 39.f6 with the threat Qg4 and Qg8# wins quickly. 38...Qg7? Topalov should have considered 38...Bd6. 39.Qxg7+. Second chance: 39.Qh4 Qxa1 (39...Qc3 40.Qh5!) 40.f6, once again with the deadly threat Qg4 and Qg8#, wins. 39...Bxg7 40.f6 Bf8 41.e5+ Kh8 42.Bf5 Be6 43.Bxe6 43...Rxe6?

44.Rg4? After 44.Ra2 there is no good defence against Ra2 with mate to follow. But even after the text move Kramnik keeps up the pressure and ultimately wins his third blindfold game in a row. 44...cxb4 45.axb4 Rc4 46.Rd1 Re8 47.Rd7 h5 (47...Rxb4 48.Rxf7 h5 49.Rg6 Rxf4 50.e6 Rxf3 51.e7 also wins) 48.Rg5 Rxf4 49.Rxh5+ Kg8 50.Rd1 Rg4 51.fxg4 1-0. Topalov had had enough and drew his white rapid chess game against Kramnik in 21 uneventful moves. [Click to replay]


What is wrong with me in this tournament: Veselin Topalov


In the blindfold games the players exchange moves by clicking squares on
the empty boards of a notebook computer


Some people are very relaxed about the setup, some are not


The rapid games are conducted in a more traditional fashion

Round four

Blindfold
Vallejo-Shirov 0-1
Topalov-Ivanchuk 1/2
Anand-Kramnik 1-0
Svidler-Van Wely 0-1
Leko-Gelfand 1/2
Morozevich-Bareev 1-0
Rapid
Shirov-Vallejo 1-0
Ivanchuk-Topalov 1-0
Kramnik-Anand 1/2
Van Wely-Svidler 0-1
Gelfand-Leko 1/2
Bareev-Morozevich 0-1

Look what happened to the unfortunate Paco Vallejo in his blindfold game against Shirov. And the second game, too, was a tragedy for the native-born Spaniard.

Vallejo Pons,F (2686) - Shirov,A (2713) [D10]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (4), 22.03.2005
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.c5 g6 7.Bd3 Bg7 8.b4 Bg4 9.Bb2 Nbd7 10.Ne2 Qc7 11.a4 0-0 12.Ra3 Rfb8 13.Qa1 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Qc8 15.Bc3 Ne8 16.f4 Ndf6 17.Ng3 e6 18.Ke2 Nc7 19.Bd2 Qd8 20.Qg1 Kf8 21.Qg2 bxa4 22.Rxa4 Ra7 23.Rha1 Rba8 24.R1a2 Nd7 25.Qf3 Qh4

26.Qg4 What?? One of the GMs in the Jockey Club asked: "Isn't that essentially refuted by Qxg4?" Well, Vallejo thought he had a pawn on h3! 26...Qxg4+ ...and was horrified when the computer refused to accept the move h3xg4. 0-1. [Click to replay]


Anand, Topalov and Kramnik sharing a jest

Shirov,A (2713) - Vallejo Pons,F (2686) [B30]
Amber Rapid Monte Carlo MNC (4), 22.03.2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.Bxc6+ bxc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.d3 e5 7.Nbd2 Nf6 8.Nc4 Nd7 9.Ne3 Be6 10.c3 Be7 11.d4 f6 12.b3 0-0 13.Bb2 Re8 14.Nd2 d5 15.Qc2 Qb6 16.Nf3 exd4 17.cxd4 Bf8 18.exd5 cxd5 19.dxc5 Bxc5 20.Qd2 Rad8 21.Bd4 Ne5 22.Rfd1 Nxf3+ 23.gxf3 Bxd4 24.Qxd4 Qa6 25.Rd2 Bf7 26.Rc1 Re5 27.h4 Bh5 28.Kg2 Qb7 29.Rdc2 Re7 30.Nf5 Rf7 31.Rc6 Rfd7 32.Qf4 Bg6 33.Rc7 Qb5 34.Nd4 Qb4.

White can already win with 35.Rxd7 wins: 35...Rxd7 36.Rc8+ Kf7 37.h5 Bxh5 38.Qf5 Qxd4 39.Qxd7+. 35.h5. Shirov gives his opponent a tiny chance to survive. 35...Bf7? No, not that way. 35...Be8 was required. 36.Rxd7 and 1-0 because of 36...Rxd7 37.Rc8+ and Black is devastated. [Click to replay]


Alexei Shirov in action

The official report calls the game between Peter Svidler and Loek van Wely a "comedy of errors". Indeed it was cause for some mirth and disbelief amongst the Fritz armed spectators on the Playchess server.

Svidler,P (2735) - Van Wely,L (2679) [B30]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (4), 22.03.2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Qc7 5.0-0 Nd4 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Nd5 Nxd5 8.exd5 Qc5 9.c4 a6 10.b4 Qxb4 11.Ba4 g6 12.Bb3 Bg7 13.a4 d6 14.Ba3 Qa5 15.Re1 Qd8 16.c5 0-0 17.Rc1 dxc5 18.Bxc5 Re8 19.a5 Bf5 20.Qf3 Qxa5.

21.Bxe7? 21.d6 was certainly a better try. Now Black has a big advantage. 21...Qxd2? 21...Bh6 was necessary to keep up the pressure. 22.d6 Bf8. Now suddenly White is better. 23.g4? ...no longer. Black regains the advantage with 23...Bxe7 and the game lasted just six more moves: 24.dxe7 Qg5 25.h3 Be6 26.Rxe6 fxe6 27.Bxe6+ Kh8 28.Rc7 Rxe7 29.Qxb7 Rae8 0-1. [Click to replay]

Peter Svidler won his black rapid chess game against van Wely, but the two losses in the last two rounds meant that his chances of catching comet Anand had dwindled considerably.

Alexander Morozevich, the man who was so ravaged in Wijk, played another mysterious setup against Evgeny Bareev, whose Caro Kann did, however, have a satisfactory outcome. But then, once again, blindness struck in this blindfold game.

Morozevich,A (2741) - Bareev,E (2709) [B10]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (4), 22.03.2005
1.e4 c6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Ne5 e6 5.d4 Nc6 6.Bb5 Qb6 7.c4 Bb4+ 8.Nc3 Nge7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Na4 Qd8 12.Qc2 Bd6 13.Re1 Qc7 14.Bd2 Nf5 15.Nf3 dxc4 16.Qxc4 a5 17.Nc5 Qb6 18.Rac1 h6 19.b3 Rd8 20.Qc2 Bf8 21.Be3 Rd5 22.h3 Qb5 23.Na4 Bb4 24.Red1 Bb7 25.a3 Bxa3 26.Nc3 Nxe3 27.fxe3 Bxc1 28.Nxb5 Bxe3+ 29.Kh1 Rxb5 30.Qe4 Bg5 31.Nxg5 Rxg5 32.Rd2 Rf5 33.Qe3 Rd5 34.Qf4 Rd7 35.Qe5 Rd5 36.Qc7 Rb5 37.Rd3 Rc8 38.Qd7 Rf8 39.Kh2 Ba8 40.Rc3 Rb7 41.Qd6 Rbb8 42.Rg3 Rb5 43.Qe7 Rf5 44.Qh4 Kh8 45.Qe7 Kg8 46.Kg1 g6 47.Qa7 Rd8 48.Qc7

What did Evgeny Bareevdo in this game? Well, believe it or not he played 48...h5?? The reason, we are told, is that he thought his rook was protected by the other rook on d5. But it was on f5 and after 49.Qxd8+ there was nothing left but to offer his opponent the 1-0. [Click to replay]


Lots of bad luck: Russian GM Evgeny Bareev

Incidentally, a round earlier Bareev had suffered a similar tragedy against Peter Leko. He had been pushing his Hungarian opponent throughout the game, and at move 64 he had a comfortably drawn position. He had 30 seconds on his clock and used 22 of them to ponder his next move. Then, with just eight seconds to go he started clicking on the empty computer board, trying to enter a legal move. But the program rejected them all and Bareev lost on time. He also lost his fourth round rapid chess game against Morozevich after an interesting piece sacrifice, possibly because he played 24.c6? instead of 24.Bxe5 Bxe5 25.Bg4+ Kb8 26.Rxf7 Bxb2 and then 27.c6. This is really not his kind of tournament.


Caught between computer screens: Peter Leko

Naturally the most anticipated match of round four was Anand vs Kramnik. The blindfold game looked drawish, but some careless play by Kramnik allowed Anand to chalk up his seventh full point in succession.

Anand,V (2786) - Kramnik,V (2754) [C42]
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo MNC (4), 22.03.2005
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.0-0-0 Ne5 10.Kb1 a6 11.Be2 Be6 12.Nd4 Nc4? 13.Qd3 (threatening Nxe6) 13...Nxe3 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Qxe3 e5 16.Bd3 c6 17.h4 Rf6 18.g3 d5 19.Qxe5 Rxf2 20.Rhf1 Rf6 21.Qh5 g6 22.Qe2 Qd6 23.h5 Raf8 24.hxg6 hxg6 25.Rh1. Now Black is losing 25...Kf7 26.c4 Ke8 27.cxd5 c5 28.g4 Kd8 29.g5 Rf4 30.Rh6 Bxg5 31.Rxg6 Bf6 32.Rh6 Qe5 33.c3 Qxe2 34.Bxe2 Rf2 35.Bg4 b5 36.d6 Rg8 37.Bh3 b4 38.Rh7 bxc3 39.bxc3 Rg3 40.Re1.

40...Be5. 40...Bg7 41.d7 Rf8 would have put up a little more resistance. The game ended Vishy-style: 41.Rd7+ Kc8 42.Rf7+ Rxh3 43.Rxf2 Bxd6 44.Kc2 Kd7 45.Ree2 Kc6 46.Rf6 Kc7 47.Ree6 Rh2+ 48.Kd3 Rh3+ 49.Kc4 Rh4+ 50.Kb3 c4+ 51.Ka4 Rh2 52.Rxd6 1-0. [Click to replay]


Anand vs Kramnik in the game of the day


... and analysing together after all of it is over

The rapid chess game between the two was a shocker. The Berliner opening 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 would have been hardly surprising, had it not been Anand playing this irritating black defense. And the game ended on move 24 in a draw. Anand dropped his first half-point in this tournament, dampening speculations that he was going for an entry in the Guinnes Book. He still remains two full points ahead of his compatriots. Here we have to say: this is really his kind of tournament.

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