Blindfold king Kramnik wins 16th Amber Tournament

by ChessBase
3/30/2007 – World champion Vladimir Kramnik won the 16th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament, with a two-point lead over runner-up Vishy Anand. It was Kramnik's sixth victory in Monaco. The key for his success was a very powerful performance in the blindfold competition, where he scored 9 out of 11, which amounts to an almost 3000-level performance. Final report.

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The 16th edition of the annual Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament is being held from March 17 to 29 at the Fairmont Monte Carlo Hotel in Monaco, with a total prize fund of € 216,000 (US $288,000). On each day of play there are two rounds, one a blindfold session and the second rapid chess.

Results of round eleven (final): Thursday March 29

Blindfold     Rapid Chess  
  Radjabov-Leko 0-1
Carlsen-Van Wely
  Van Wely-Carlsen 0-1
  Morozevich-Svidler 0-1
Gelfand-Anand ½-½   Anand-Gelfand ½-½
Aronian-Ivanchuk 1-0   Ivanchuk-Aronian
Vallejo-Kramnik ½-½   Kramnik-Vallejo

Vladimir Kramnik won the 16th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament with a two-point lead over runner-up Vishy Anand. Two draws by both players in the final round did not change anything at the top of the scoreboard. However, Vassily Ivanchuk's blindfold loss to Levon Aronian gave Anand an unshared second spot. With is victory Aronian was able to catch Peter Svidler and share 4-5.

Winner Vladimir Kramnik during his final blindfold game

It was Kramnik's sixth victory in Monaco. He previously won the event in 1996, 1998 (shared with Shirov), 1999, 2001 (shared with Topalov) and 2004 (shared with Morozevich). The key for this year's success was a very powerful performance in the blindfold competition, where he scored 9 out of 11. Only Morozevich was able to top that, last year, scoring 9.5/11 points. Kramnik finished two points ahead of his nearest rival (Morozevich), and his performance rating in the blindfold was equivalent to almost 3000 Elo points.

Vishy Anand analysing with Boris Gelfand, with Kramnik watching

The rapid competition was dominated by Vishy Anand. The Indian GM did not lose a single game and harvested 8½ points in 11 rounds, two more than a group of four runners up: Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Kramnik and Leko. Anand's performance in the rapid section: 2939.

Peter Leko about to play a novelty and pick up a valuable point against Teimour Radjabov

In the final round Peter Leko was able to beat Teimour Radjabov in their rapid game, where he pulled out a novelty he had prepared five years earlier. This move, 12…exd5, had been possible in an earlier game against Carlsen, but Leko decided not to use it in a blindfold game where he could mess things up later. But after discovering that the move had recently been played there was no reason to hold back against Radjabov, and the extra point gave him a much-needed boost in the final tables.

Magnus Carlsen (right) in his rapid game against Loek van Wely

Magnus Carlsen, the official bulletin tells us, started his blindfold game against Loek van Wely with an unusual request. To understand what he was asking we should explain that in the blindfold games the players have a choice. If you are playing with the black pieces you can ‘turn around the board’ and play with black at the bottom of the screen. Some players don’t care about this possibility, others find it more convenient to have the board just like they would have it ‘in real life’. Magnus was the first player ever to ask to play with the white at the top of the screen although he was White! The game was drawn. In the rapid game Carlsen picked up a whole point with the black pieces (which were on his side of the chessboard).

Alexander Morozevich (left) in an ill-fated rapid game against Peter Svidler

Peter Svidler lost his blindfold French Defence game against Alexander Morozevich, who in turn lost his rapid chess game against Svidler, playing the risky and eventually losing 15.Ne6 after a five-minute think.

The draw average in this event was understandably low, with 44% in the blindfold, 48% in the rapid and 46% overall. White was victorious in 35% of the games, Black in 19%. The shortest games were 19 moves long (three in total), and 21 games ended after 25 moves or less. The longest was the rapid game Carlsen vs Vallejo in round two, when a draw was agreed after 108 moves.

Final standings

Blindfold games

Rapid chess games


Combined standings

Click to enlarge to a full table


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