Carlsen (and Gelfand) bounce back with 2:0 victories

by ChessBase
3/15/2010 – The youngest and oldest players took painful 0-2 defeats on the first day in the Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament. On the second day both bounced back with 2-0 wins. Magnus Carlsen demolished defending champion Levon Aronian, Gelfand fared similarly with Azeri GM Vugar Gashimov. Vasily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov are in the lead in the overall standings with 3.0/4. Round two 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 two

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

Carlsen bounces back with 2-0 win over defending champion Aronian

Top-seed Magnus Carlsen recovered from his poor start with a 2-0 win over defending Amber champion Levon Aronian. The Norwegian admitted that he had been upset about his 2-0 loss on the first day (particularly the rapid game, where he believed he was in no danger of losing), but said that he certainly had not despaired: ‘With twenty rounds to go there is always time to recover.’ The first two of those twenty rounds were certainly encouraging for him.

In the blindfold game Magnus had black and played a King’s Indian. His ambition to steer for a highly complicated struggle worked out beyond expectation. To begin with he got the chance to implement an idea he had seen in a game Eljanov-Radjabov; a quick counter-push on the queenside to undermine White’s centre followed by a piece sacrifice to break up that same centre.

Aronian,L (2782) - Carlsen,M (2813) [E98]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (2), 14.03.2010
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.d4 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Ne1 Nd7 10.Nd3 f5 11.Bd2 Nf6 12.f3 Kh8 13.g4 c6 14.Kg2 b5 15.b3 a5 16.Nf2 b4 17.Na4 Bb7 18.Rc1 fxe4 19.fxe4 cxd5 20.exd5

20...Nexd5! 21.cxd5 Nxd5 22.Kg1 e4. Aronian probably missed this push, a contradictory move that seems to contribute little to Black’s wish to open up lines and files, but which in fact is the right move to keep his initiative going. 23.Nxe4 Bd4+ 24.Rf2 Rxf2 25.Nxf2. White could still have put up some resistance with 25.Bg5 (instead of 25.Nxf2), but Aronian had also missed 25...Qh4. Now 26.Be1 is followed by the deadly 26…Be5. 26.Qe1 Rf8 27.Bf3 Rxf3 28.Qe4 Qxf2+ 0-1.

Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian discuss in a hallway after the game

Aronian’s worries were compounded when he also lost the rapid game. And perhaps this loss hurt even more as it was completely unnecessary. From a Four Knights’ Defence the players ended up in a totally drawish rook endgame. Probably the main factor that kept the game going was that neither of the players were willing to offer a draw. And as they plodded on Aronian got himself into trouble. "Playing against Magnus after he has lost a game is never pleasant," said his father Henrik Carlsen. "After he has lost two games is even worse. Levon was very unfortunate to be in that situation."

Gelfand-Gashimov: Boris Gelfand recovered from his poor performance in the first round with a win in the blindfold game against Vugar Gashimov. Nevertheless he called it ‘a stupid game’, as he had spoiled an excellent opening position to end up in a problematic situation.

Gelfand,B (2750) - Gashimov,V (2740) [D10]
19th Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (2), 14.03.2010
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 g6 9.Bd3 Bg7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Rd1 Re8 12.Bb2 e6 13.Rac1 Nbd7 14.Qe2 Qb8 15.Qc2 Rc8 16.a4 bxc4 17.bxc4 c5 18.dxc5 Nxc5 19.Be2 Nb3 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Rb1 dxc4 22.Bxc4

22...Qc7?? Gashimov could have played 22…Qb4 and White might as well resign. 23.Qxb3 Qxc4? Suddenly White is presented with a winning position. For the rest of the game Gelfand kept his eyes on the ball and converted his advantage without further problems. 24.Rd8+ Rxd8 25.Qxc4 Rab8 26.Qc2 Rbc8 27.Qe2 Rc6 28.Rd1 Rdc8 29.Qf3 Rb6 30.Bd4 Rbc6 31.Rb1 Ne8 32.g3 Bxd4 33.exd4 Kg7 34.a5 Rf6 35.Qd3 Rcc6 36.d5 Rcd6 37.Qd4 Nc7 38.Rb6 Nb5 39.Qe5 h6 40.f4 g5 41.f5 h5 42.g4 h4 43.Rc6 Rxc6 44.dxc6 Nd6 45.c7 Nc8 46.Qe8 Nd6 47.Qd8 Nb7 48.Qxf6+ 1-0.

The blindfold game started slowly. White got a slight edge but nothing for Black to get worried about. The game turned around when Gelfand opened the position and Gashimov snatched a pawn, that his opponent called ‘poisoned’. Soon White was totally lost, but the game was far from over yet. Gelfand spoiled his advantage and in the end he had to win an opposite-coloured bishop ending in a study-like manner (although the Israeli grandmaster was the first to say that he was not sure if this win was waterproof). Gelfand was certainly pleased with his two wins, but he didn’t forget how he obtained them: ‘Two points with bad play’.

Standings after the seond round

1.  Grischuk   1½
Ivanchuk 1½
Karjakin 1½
Ponomariov 1½
Svidler 1½
6. Carlsen 1
Gashimov 1
Gelfand 1
Kramnik 1
10. Smeets ½
11. Aronian 0
Dominguez 0
1.  Ivanchuk   1½
Kramnik 1½
Ponomariov 1½
4. Aronian 1
Carlsen 1
Dominguez 1
Gelfand 1
Smeets 1
Svidler 1
10. Gashimov ½
Grischuk ½
Karjakin ½
1.  Ivanchuk   3    
Ponomariov 3
3. Kramnik 2½
Svidler 2½
5. Carlsen 2
Gelfand 2
Grischuk 2
Karjakin 2
9. Gashimov 1½
Smeets 1½
11. Aronian 1
Dominguez 1

Paris Nice bicycle race

Just like last year the second round of the Amber tournament clashed with the final stage of Paris-Nice, the 8-stage cycling race that started in Paris (you had guessed that much) a week ago.

For many hours the Promenade des Anglais was crowded with people waiting for the denouement of the 68th edition of this legendary race and we can tell you that quite a number of chess fans mingled among these spectators.

Alberto Contador won his second Paris-Nice, three years after his first victory

Photos by Nadja Wittmann


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