Amber 2011 Full Review - Round 1, Rapid
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The first round blindfold games had seen only one draw and five decisive results in an explosive start. The players were soon back for the rapid games, with the chance for many to get their own back after the blindfold loss, and others to get another win and get the perfect start.
This pairing was the only one who had their blndfold game drawn, so this was a chance for both players to get one over the other. The game was expected to be enthralling, as both players are very good in blitz.
The game was enthralling, and it was Carlsen who came out on top. Carlsen's win here also gave him the victory in the mini-match, so a solid start for the tournament favorite (unlike last year when he went down 0-2 to Ivanchuk).
Their earlier match had seen young Giri blowing up a winning position and eventually lose. This rapid match was a chance for Giri to get back at Aronian for that, and after playing the opening brilliantly, it seemed like he was on his way....
Lightning struck twice for Giri! Two winning positions, and each time he made some mistakes in the middlegame, and both times Aronian took advantage and won. Thus Aronian won the mini-match 2-0, much to the dissapointment of Giri, who could have had it the other way round, and hould have atleast won one game.
Ivanchuk had gone unbeaten in the entire last year's tournament, but he blundered into a mate in his blindfold game against Gashimov. In their rapid game, Gashmiov played white, and in a Sicilian, was able to gain a small advantage and slowly increase it. His position was looking good, and Ivanchuk was even more generous than he ever thought him to be...
What exactly happened to Ivanchuk, blundering into a mate again, this time a back-rank mate which is automatically in the repertoire of all GM's, and that too when he could see the board (unlike in blindfold)! Gashimov was the beneficiary, and took two points out on Ivanchuk's off-day.
This first-round pairing was also decided by a blunder, when Karjakin blundered a rook. Their second game was a quiet Nimzo-Indian, where Gelfand pushed for an advantage but the game ultimately petered out to an clearly drawish-looking queen + rook endgame....
Lighting struck thrice now! Giri lost twice after getting a winning position, Ivanchuk blundered twice into a mate, and now Karjakin twice blundering a rook, this time forgetting that it could be taken with check! Thus it was another 2-0 result, with Gelfand the happy victor.
Grischuk had won the blindfold game, and Kramnik was out for payback. Playing White, Kramnik got nothing out of the opening after Grischuk played the King's Indian Defense. After being frustrated at being unable to get an advantage, he blundered a pawn after missing an intermediate move from Grischuk. Grischuk was now simply a pawn up and went on to outplay a downhearted Kramnik, winning the game and the mini-match comfortably.
In this standout pairing of the first round, Anand had won the blindfold match after Topalov missed an endgame draw. Topalov was playing White here, and in what transposed into a Queen's Gambit declined, he pushed and tried to get an advantage but Anand was able to repel his attempts easily, and a draw was agreed after 35 moves.
The standings after the first round of blindfold and rapid matches are: