Melody Amber: Aronian leads by 2½ points

by ChessBase
3/26/2008 – Levon Aronian is on fire: in round nine of the Blindfold and Rapid event in Nice he defeated Vishy Anand 1½:½, and in round ten whitewashed Alexander Morozevich 2-0. This put the Armenian GM in a commanding lead in both categories. In the overall score he leads with 12½ points ahead of Carlsen, Kramnik and Leko, who have ten points each. Illustrated report with lots of videos.

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The seventeenth Amber Blindfold and Rapid Chess Tournament is taking place from March 15 to 27 in the Palais de la Mediterranée, Nice, France. Twelve leading grandmasters play blindfold and rapid chess games against each other. The prize fund is a massive 216,000 Euro (currently US $336,000). The sponsor is Dutch billionaire Joop Van Oosterom.

Report after round nine

Round eight: Blindfold Chess   Round eight: Rapid Chess
Aronian-Anand 1-0   Anand-Aronian ½-½
Carlsen-Mamedyarov 1-0   Mamedyarov-Carlsen 0-1
Karjakin-Topalov ½-½   Topalov-Karjakin 1-0
Van Wely-Leko 0-1   Leko-Van Wely ½-½
Gelfand-Morozevich ½-½   Morozevich-Gelfand 1-0
Ivanchuk-Kramnik ½-½   Kramnik-Ivanchuk ½-½

Armenian GM Levon Aronian, leading in the field, beat runner-up Vishy Anand in a spectacular blindfold game. 17-year-old Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen won both his games against Azerbeijan's top GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, the second 2-0 round in this event (the first was Carlsen's 2-0 against Loek van Wely in round two).

Norwegian 17-year-old Magnus Carlsen defeated Azeri Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2-0

Carlsen,M (2733) - Mamedyarov,S (2760) [B46]
Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (8), 23.03.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Qc7 8.Bf4 Rb8 9.Bd3 Rxb2 10.0-0 Ne7 11.Ne4 Ng6 12.Nd6+ Bxd6 13.exd6 Qb8 14.Bxg6 hxg6 15.Be5 Rb5 16.Bxg7 Rh7 17.c4 Rbh5 18.g4 Rxh2 19.Be5 Rh1+ 20.Kg2 Rxf1 21.Qxf1 c5 22.Qd3 f5 23.Rb1 Bb7+ 24.f3 Kf7 25.Qb3

Black is in trouble and tries a piece sacrifice to reach a perpetual. Carlsen cooly refutes the attempt. 25...Bxf3+ 26.Kxf3 Rh3+ 27.Bg3 Rxg3+ 28.Kxg3 Qxd6+ 29.Kf3 Qd4 30.gxf5 gxf5 31.Rd1 Qe4+ 32.Kf2 Ke7 33.Qe3 Qh4+ 34.Qg3 Qh6 1-0.

18-year-old Sergey Karjakin lost a 102-move rapid chess game against Veselin Topalov, while Gelfand managed to spoil a winning blindfold game against Morozevich to a draw and then lose their rapid chess encounter catastrophically. The blindfold game between Loek van Wely and Peter Leko produced the biggest blunder so far.

Blindfold blindness: Loek van Wely suffered a disaster in this game against Peter Leko

Van Wely,L (2681) - Leko,P (2753) [A30]
Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (8), 23.03.2008
1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.g3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 Be7 7.Re1 d5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.e4 Nb4 10.d4 cxd4 11.Nxd4 N8c6 12.Nxc6 Qxd1 13.Rxd1

In this position Leko recaptured the knight with his bishop: 13...Bxc6 14.e5 0-0. Unfortunately Loek van Wely was under the impression that Black had captured with the knight on move 13, and so played the "killer": 15.Rd7, forking, so he thought, both bishops. Unfortunately Peter Leko put an end to the dream with 15...Bxd7 0-1.

Round nine: Blindfold Chess   Round nine: Rapid Chess
Leko-Karjakin ½-½   Karjakin-Leko ½-½
Morozevich-Aronian 0-1   Aronian-Morozevich 1-0
Kramnik-Carlsen 1-0   Carlsen-Kramnik ½-½
Anand-Ivanchuk ½-½   Ivanchuk-Anand 1-0
Mamedyarov-Van Wely 0-1   Van Wely-Mamedyarov ½-½
Topalov-Gelfand ½-½   Gelfand-Topalov ½-½

Ivan Cheparinov and Veselin Topalov take on Sofi and Peter Leko in foosball on the free day

Peter Leko, Magnus Carlsen and Vishy Anand try their luck in the casino, with complementary chips given to them by the organisers

Rien ne va plus – you are never too young to work the tables

Magnus Carlsen used his casino earnings to get himself a Joe Cool outfit

After the second free day Levon Aronian came out fighting and scored a thumping 2-0 victory over Alexander Morozevich. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov lost his blindfold game with the white pieces to Dutch GM Loek van Wely. Vishy Anand got nothing from his white blindfold game against Vassily Ivanchuk and collapsed in their rapid chess game.

Ivanchuk,V (2751) - Anand,V (2799) [A29]
Amber Rapid Nice FRA (9), 25.03.2008
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bg2 0-0 6.Nd5 Bc5 7.d3 Nxd5 8.cxd5 Nd4 9.Nd2 d6 10.e3 Nf5 11.Nc4 a5 12.Bd2 a4 13.b4 axb3 14.axb3 Rxa1 15.Qxa1 b5 16.Na5 Ne7 17.0-0

17...Bg4? Overlooking 18.Nb7 which wins White a pawn. 18...Qd7 19.Nxc5 dxc5 20.Qxe5 Qd6 21.d4 Be2 22.Qxd6 cxd6 23.Re1 Bd3 24.dxc5 dxc5 25.Rc1 c4 26.bxc4 bxc4 27.Bb4 Re8 28.Bxe7 Rxe7 29.Bf1 Bxf1 30.Kxf1 Re4 31.Ke2 f5 32.f3 Re5 33.d6 1-0.

The tragedy in this round was suffered by Magnus Carlsen in his blindfold game against Vladimir Kramnik, overstepping the time in a probably winning position.

Kramnik,V (2799) - Carlsen,M (2733) [E17]
Amber Blindfold Nice FRA (9), 25.03.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.Nc3 Ne4 7.Bd2 f5 8.d5 Bf6 9.Qc2 Qe7 10.Rd1 Na6 11.0-0 Nb4 12.Qb3 a5 13.Be3 a4 14.Nxa4 exd5 15.Nd4 dxc4 16.Qxc4 Bxd4 17.Bxd4 Nc6 18.Bxb6 cxb6 19.Nxb6 Rd8 20.Nd5 Ne5 21.Qb5 Bxd5 22.Rxd5 Nf7 23.Rfd1 Nf6 24.R5d2 g6 25.a4 0-0 26.a5 Rb8 27.Bb7 Nd8 28.Bd5+ Ne6 29.Qc4 Rfc8 30.Qa2 Nxd5 31.Rxd5 Rc7 32.a6 Ra7 33.Rd6 Kf8 34.Qa4 Ke8 35.b4 Ng5 36.Qa1 Nf7 37.Qd4 Qxd6 38.Qe3+ Qe6 39.Qxa7 Rxb4 40.Qa8+ Ke7 41.a7 Ra4 42.Qb7 Qc6 43.Qb8

Black has a knight for a pawn and could go on the attack with 43...Ng5. However, with just seconds on his clock Carlsen played 43...d6 44.Rb1 and then overstepped his time. 1-0.

Standings after nine rounds (18 games)

1.  Aronian    5½
Kramnik 5½
Morozevich 5½
4. Carlsen 5
Leko 5
Topalov 5
7. Anand 4½
Ivanchuk 4½
9. Karjakin 4
Van Wely 4
11. Gelfand 3
12. Mamedyarov 2½
1.  Aronian    7    
2. Carlsen 5
Ivanchuk 5
Leko 5
5. Anand 4½
Kramnik 4½
Topalov 4½
8. Gelfand 4
Karjakin 4
Mamedyarov 4
11. Van Wely 3½
12. Morozevich 3
1.  Aronian    12½
2. Carlsen 10
Kramnik 10
Leko 10
5. Ivanchuk 9½
Topalov 9½
7. Anand 9
8. Morozevich 8½
9. Karjakin 8
10. Van Wely 7½
11. Gelfand 7
12. Mamedyarov 6½

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