Melody Amber rapid and blindfold tournament

3/21/2006 – This traditional and very unusual tournament is being held for the 15th time, from March 18 to 30, in Monte Carlo, in Monaco. The players are of the highest calibre and include Topalov, Anand, Svidler, Aronian, Leko and Ivanchuk. They play two-game mini-matches against each other, one game of rapid chess, the other blindfold. Total prize sum is €216,000. Round three report.

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The event is staged in great luxury every year in the Monte Carlo Grand Hotel in Monaco, sponsored by the Dutch billionaire J.J. van Oosterom, with a total prize fund is €216,000. The event is named after the sponsor's eldest daughter.


The famous Monte Carlo Casino


The Mediterranean climate of Monaco

The Participants

Veselin Topalov, Bulgaria, born March 15, 1975, Elo 2801, world ranking: 2. Topalov began his recent ascent to the top of the ratings list with a great performance at the FIDE World Championship in Tripoli in 2003 (9.5 points out of his first 10 games!) and a shared first place with Kasparov in Linares in early 2005. However these results pale against his achievements in the next twelve months. Veselin won the MTel Masters in Sofia, finishing with 4.5 out of 5. He went on to win the FIDE world championship in San Luis, scoring a dashing 6.5 out of 7 in the first half and coasting home in the second. In Wijk aan Zee he did not disappoint his fans, sharing first with Vishy Anand. And the Super-GM Morelia/Linares ended after a disastrous start with an honorable second place. Topalov lives in Salamanca, Spain. He has said that a World Champion should do three things: play chess, popularize chess and make money.

Viswanathan Anand, India, born Dec. 11, 1969, Elo 2792, world ranking: 3. "Vishy" Anand's stellar performance in Monaco last year will be remembered as one of the best in the history of the Amber tournament (he won both the rapid and the blindfold with consummate ease). He won the overall tournament four times, in 1994, 1997, 2003 and 2005. At the FIDE World Championship in San Luis he came equal second, and shared first with Topalov in Wijk aan Zee 2006. There he gained enough Elo points to cross the magic 2800 barrier in the upcoming April list. Anand has won the the FIDE World Championship in 2000, and Linares in 1998, Dortmund in 2004, Wijk aan Zee five times, and too many other tournaments to list here. In rapid chess he is in a class of his own. Anand lives in Spain, close to Madrid, but visits his native India quite often, where he is one of the country's biggest sports heroes.


Peter Svidler, Russia, born June 17, 1976, Elo 2765, world ranking: 4. Pyotr Svidler's fourth place in the world rankings confirms what experts have suspected since his late teens: this is a top player of his generation. He made his debut in the mid-1990s by winning the Russian championship four times (twice in his teens). In 1997, at the age of 21, he shared first in Tilburg with Kramnik and Kasparov, beating the latter in their direct encounter. Svidler was joint second with Anand at the FIDE World Championship in San Luis and started the Morelia/Linares in superb style before collapsing, especially in the second half, demonstrating to the world that he still has to work on one aspect of chess: stability. Svilder lives in St Petersburg and has twin sons. His great passion in life is international cricket. Chess, we believe, comes second.


Levon Aronian, Armenia, born October 6, 1982, Elo 2752, world ranking: 5. Levon Aronian is an Armenian, 23 years old, who is currently in the news for winning the category 20 Morelia/Linares Super-GM ahead of Topalov, Leko, Svidler and Ivanchuk. That came after spectacular wins in Gibraltar, Nagorno-Karabakh and a first place in the World Cup tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk, where he defeated former FIDE world champion Ruslan Ponomariov in the final. We must remember that Aronian was World Junior Champion under-12 in 1994 and overall World Junior Champion in 2002. He is one of the hottest commodities ind chess these days.


Peter Leko, Hungary, born September 8, 1979. Elo 2740, world ranking: 7. The challenger to the classical chess world championship and sole winner of Wijk aan Zee 2005 has had a disappointing year. Peter slumped in San Luis and Wijk 2006. After starting spectacularly in the Morelia half of the Super-GM he had a nightmare finish with two losses which moved him from first to fourth place. In 1994, at the age of 14 years, 4 months and 22 days, Peter Leko became the youngest grandmaster in history, and has always been supremely confident in his abilities. He is the only player in the world to complete the classical grand slam in the past few years: in 2002 he won Dortmund, in 2003 he claimed Linares and in 2005 he added Wijk aan Zee to the collection.


Vasily Ivanchuk, Ukraine, born March 18, 1969, Elo 2729, world ranking: 8. Vasily Ivanchuk is the only player who has taken part in all Amber tournaments. He is considered one of the greatest players of modern time, adored by chess fans and considered a genius by hsi colleagues. Nobody doubts he would be world champion if it was not for one defect: stability. This has been especially evident in Wijk aan Zee and Morelia/Linares, where he missed easy wins or lost unnecessarily, after playing very impressively up to that point. Apart from splendid results in Monaco (overall winner in 1992, 2nd in 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2002) his record includes victories in Linares (1989, 1991 and 1995), Tilburg in 1990, London in 1995 and Amsterdam in 1996.


Boris Gelfand, Israel, born June 24, 1968, Elo 2723, world ranking: 9. Israel's number one was born in Minsk, Belarus. In 1985 he won the Soviet and then the European Junior Championship. His most memorable achievement in his early career was his win, ahead of 139 grandmasters, at the Palma de Mallorca World Cup qualifier in 1989. He has amassed countless wins in international competitions, including first places in Biel 1993, Dos Hermanas 1994, Belgrade 1995, Vienna 1996, Tilburg 1996, Polanica Zdroj 1998 and 2000, and Cannes 2002. In 2003 he led the Israeli team to the silver medals at the European Team Championship.

Alexander Morozevich, Russia, born July 18, 1977, Elo 2721, world ranking: 11. Morozevich made his debut at the Amber in 2002, causing a sensation by winning the blindfold section with 9/11 (he had no previous experience with this form of chess) and the overall section. The following year he tied for second and then in 2004 shared overall first with Kramnik. Last year he was sole second. Morozevich is a brand-name for mind-boggling chess, ever since he made his international break-through at Lloyds Bank in 1994, where at the age of seventeen he took first prize with a staggering 10.5 out of 11 score, using unusual and outdated openings. He came fourth in the FIDE World Championship in San Luis, securing participation in the next championship in 2007. In the last Super-final of the Russian Championship Morozevich finished one point behind the winner Rublevsky, after losing a game by forfeit when he overslept and did not appear at the board.


Alexander Grischuk, Russia, born October 31, 1983, Elo 2717, world ranking: 12. Alexander Grischuk is a last-minute Monaco replacement for Vladimir Kramnik, who was prevented from attending due to health problems. Grischuk has been one of the world's leading players for some time now. He is also an outstanding team player, who's won several national championships and European Cups with the NAO Chess Club from Paris. He was also a member of the Russian team that last November won the gold medals at the World Team Championship in Israel. In recent years he has been bitten by the poker bug, which means there will be plenty of temptation for him during the Amber tournament, with the world-famous Monaco casino beckoning every night.


Francisco Vallejo, Spain, born August 21, 1982, Elo 2650, world ranking: 54. "Paco" Vallejo was born in Menorca and currently lives in Mallorca, the venue of the 2004 Chess Olympiad. He is the biggest hope of chess-crazy Spain. Vallejo became a grandmaster at the age of 16 years and 9 months (only 12 players in chess history were younger), and he became the under-18 World Champion in 2000. Among his best results are a shared first place at the 1998 Spanish championship and victories at the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba in 2001 and Dos Hermanas in 2002. More recently, a couple of months ago, he shared first place with Ponomariov in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In Morelia he won a brilliant game against World Champion Topalov, but his risky play cost him too many points in the other games.


Loek van Wely, Netherlands, born October 7, 1972, Elo 2647, world ranking: 59. The Dutch champion has skipped at least one important tournament in order to have time enough time to prepare for the Amber tournament. Van Wely is an uncompromising fighter with a merciless will to win, which has brought him a string of remarkable successes in the strongest open tournaments of the world. Last summer he claimed the Dutch championship for the sixth time in a row. At the Corus tournament Van Wely showed good chess and managed to beat Aronian and Leko, but he spoiled his results by missing wins in both his last games. This is loek's tenth Amber tournament.

Peter Heine Nielsen, Denmark, born May 24, 1973, Elo 2644, world ranking: 66. At 1 meter 98 cm Peter Heine is the tallest grandmaster in the world's top 100, at Elo 2644 he is Scandinavia's strongest. He won the traditional Hastings tournament in 2003 and the second European Internet championship last year, where he beat Michael Adams in the final. His break-through came in his late twenties, especially after he started working with Vishy Anand, whom he seconded in San Luis. Nielsen also trains with Norwegian wonderboy Magnus Carlsen, whom he beat in a blindfold tournament last February in Aalborg.

Pictures


At the opening ceremony. We recognise Svidler, Morozevich and Aronian in conversation, in the background Nielsen and Vallejo.


Topalov, Jeroen Piket (who works for the organiser) and van Wely


The setup during the rapid chess games


The blindfold games are played on computers (without pieces on the graphic display)


Analysis after the end of a game. Nielsen and Leko are analysing,
Topalov and the visiting GMs Ljubojevic and Nunn kibitz.

Results

Saturday March 18 Round I
Blindfold   Rapid  
van Wely-Aronian 1-0 Aronian-van Wely 1-0
Leko-Nielsen 1-0 Nielsen-Leko 1/2-1/2
Ivanchuk-Topalov 0-1 Topalov-Ivanchuk 1-0
Vallejo-Svidler 1-0 Svidler-Vallejo 1/2-1/2
Anand-Morozevich 0-1 Morozevich-Anand 1/2-1/2
Gelfand-Grischuk 1/2-1/2 Grischuk-Gelfand 1/2-1/2

Sunday March 19 Round II

Blindfold   Rapid  
Grischuk-Vallejo 1/2-1/2 Vallejo-Grischuk 1/2-1/2
Morozevich-Gelfand 1/2-1/2 Gelfand-Morozevich 1/2-1/2
Svidler-Anand 1/2-1/2 Anand-Svidler 1-0
Aronian-Topalov 1-0 Topalov-Aronian 1/2-1/2
Nielsen-Ivanchuk 1/2-1/2 Ivanchuk-Nielsen 1/2-1/2
van Wely-Leko 1/2-1/2 Leko-van Wely 1/2-1/2

Monday March 20 Round III

Blindfold   Rapid  
Leko-Aronian 1/2-1/2 Aronian-Leko 1-0
Ivanchuk-van Wely 1-0 van Wely-Ivanchuk 1/2-1/2
Topalov-Nielsen 1-0 Nielsen-Topalov 1-0
Anand-Vallejo 1/2-1/2 Vallejo-Anand 0-1
Gelfand-Svidler 1/2-1/2 Svidler-Gelfand 0-1
Morozevich-Grischuk 1/2-1/2 Grischuk-Morozevich 0-1

Standings

Rapid

Blindfold

Combined

Schedule

March 18, 19, 20 and 21 Round 1, 2, 3 and 4
Wednesday 22 March Rest day
March 23, 24, 25 and 26     Round 5, 6, 7 and 8
Monday 27 March Rest day
March 28 and 29 Round 9 and 10
Thursday 30 March Round 11, closing, prize-giving

Rules of play

Rules for the rapid games

  1. Play will be governed by the FIDE Laws of Chess, except where they are overrid­den by the following rules.
  2. Players do not need to record the moves.
  3. At the start of the game each player has twenty-five minutes on his clock. Before a player makes his move ten seconds will be added to his remaining time.
  4. The monitor will show when the same position has appeared on the board three times or that the "50 moves rule" can be applied. The arbiter will draw the players' attention to this. In this case either player has the right to claim a draw.
  5. If the computer does not recognize a position because a piece has not been put in the middle of a square, the arbiter has the right, using his own judgement, to put the piece in question in the centre of the square.
  6. In case of a dispute, either player may stop the clocks while the arbiter is being summoned.

Rules for the blindfold games

  1. Play will be governed by the FIDE Laws of Chess, except where they are overridden by the following rules.
  2. Players are not allowed to record the moves.
  3. At the start of the game each player has twenty-five minutes on his clock. Before a player makes his move twenty seconds will be added to his remaining time.
  4. The computer clock marks the end of the time-control period.
  5. The monitor will show the players when the same position has appeared on the board three times or that the "50 moves rule" can be applied. In this case either player has the right to claim a draw.
  6. If a player makes an illegal move, the monitor will display the message: "Illegal move, make another move". In this case there is no need for additional action by the player.
  7. If a player needs the assistance of the arbiter, he may call the arbiter. The arbiter will in this case interrupt the game; interrupting of the game takes about 5 seconds. In this situation the players may not leave the playing area of the playing hall and may not watch the position on the monitors.
  8. Players, who leave the playing area without permission of the arbiter, will lose the game immediately.

Regulations in case of computer breakdown

  1. After a computer breakdown, it is forbidden to speak to anybody except the arbiter.
  2. The games will be continued on empty boards in the two playing halls and, if three games are in progress, also in a room of the hotel.
  3. The time will be controlled using the Fischer clock; the time will be transferred as accurately as possible from the computer system to the Fischer clock. 25 seconds extra will be added for each move (instead of 20 seconds).
  4. Two persons will control the game; the arbiter will write the moves down on a scoresheet, which is hidden from the players, and operate the clock. The assistant will play the moves on a pocket set, which is hidden from the players. The arbiter will check the intended move for legality, and if it is legal he will operate the clock and then write the move on the scoresheet.
  5. Note: it is possible that it takes a few seconds for the arbiter to check the move and press the clock, but in any case the time taken is not more than for the player to enter the move on the computer.
  6. The players shall show their moves on the empty board by pointing to the start and destination square of the move they intend to make; at the same time, they will speak the move aloud. If the move spoken differs from the move indicated on the board, then the arbiter shall say, "What do you mean?"
  7. If a player makes an illegal move, then the arbiter will say "Illegal move" and he will not push the clock. For example, if a player says "Rook takes d6" and the move is not a capture, then the arbiter will say "Illegal move", or if the player shows d1-d6 on the board and says "Queen d6", but the piece on d1 is actually a rook, then the arbiter will again say "Illegal move".


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