Anand and Kramnik lead in Monaco

by ChessBase
3/26/2004 – The top two seeds have risen to the top of a very tight field in the Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament. Only 1.5 points separate nine players. Kramnik is the only undefeated player in the field and shares the overall lead with Anand. They also lead the rapid while Morozevich and Svidler are on top of the blindfold. Pics and games.

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Elo rising

13th Amber Blindfold and Rapid – Mar.20-Apr.1

Official site  •  Standings

Game download/replay: Rounds 1-34-5

Melody Amber 2003 and history of blindfold chess

What is it that makes one super-GM better at blindfold chess than another super-GM? If we are to gain more than a few blunders and brilliancies from the Amber blind events perhaps we could investigate this question. We can separate this from the eternal debate about what makes a player better than another. Which players excel at blindfold play and is there a common denominator in their method or in their statements about why they are good at it?

Blindfold aces Morozevich (l.) and Kramnik played an exciting draw in round 4.

Even with his already lofty Elo, Vladimir Kramnik consistently out-performs it in blindfold play. Even more remarkable are Alexander Morozevich's scores in his only blindfold events so far. Last year he was 131 points over his rating estimate and in 2002 a whopping 221 points over with a sensational 9/11 score. In this year's event he's at +150 after five rounds despite a loss to Leko.

Anand and Bareev play play blind and check e-mail at the same time.

Talking to the underperformers might also be interesting, although there seem to be few who underperform as consistently as Kramnik and Moro out-perform. van Wely has put up quite a few miserable performances in the blindfold and Gelfand is currently on pace to set a dubious record after starting with five straight losses. But he's also tanking in the rapid games this year, so it's not a very useful sample!

Ivanchuk-Shirov rapid after 33.Rc3

Black is trying to stop White from making any progress with his extra pawn. His 33...Rd2? ran into 34.e4 Rd3+? 35.f3! White went on to win.

Black could have forced a draw immediately with 33...Rxf2! 34.Kxf2 Qd2+ 35.Kf3 Qd1+ is a repetition that White can't escape.

34.Qxf2 Qe5+ picks off the rook with a drawn endgame.

Svidler-Vallejo rapid after 27.d6

Vallejo concluded his attack in excellent fashion.

27...Rxa3+! 28.Qxa3 [28.bxa3 b2+ 29.Ka2 b1Q#]

28...Nxa3 29.dxe7 [29.Nxf5 Qxf5 30.Be4-+ ( 30.dxe7 Qb1#) 30...Qa5]

29...Nc2+ 30.Nxc2 [30.Kb1 Nxe1+ 31.Nd3 Qxd4 32.e8Q+ Rxe8 33.Bf1 Bxd3+ 34.Kc1 Qxf4+ 35.Kd1 Bc2#]

30...Qa4+ 0-1 [30...Qa4+ 31.Na3 Qxa3+! 32.bxa3 b2+ 33.Ka2 b1Q#]

Combined standings after round 5 (left number is blindfold result)

Blindfold standings after round 5

Rapid standings after round 5

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