Anand beats Kramnik 1¬?-¬?, leads Amber

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Anand-KramnikBeating Kramnik 1¬?-¬?, Anand grabbed sole lead today at the Amber tournament in Nice. Carlsen also scored 1¬?-¬?, against Topalov, and now leads the blindfold tournament a point clear while Aronian, Anand and Kamsky are sharing first place in the rapid section. Monday is the second and last rest day.

The 18th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament, organized by the Association Max Euwe in Monaco, takes place from March 14 (first round) to March 26 (last round) at the five-star hotel Palais de la Mediterran?©e, splendidly located on the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. The total prize-fund is ‚Ǩ 216,000 and this year‚Äôs field is stronger than ever with all the world‚Äôs best players taking part.
Round 8

Blindfold games:Rapid games:

Anand and Kramnik after the game

Anand and Kramnik discussing variations after their blindfold game

The big show between Anand and Kramnik, who played a world championship match against each other only five months ago, started immediately in the first blindfold session. Surprise surprise, Anand didn't go for 1.d4, and the Petroff didn't end in a draw! In fact the World Champion, who didn't want to admit that he had used his Bonn match preparation for today, won a nice game after coming up with a novelty at move 16.

Kramnik apparently didn't trust the line 18...Kxf8 19.Qh6+ Kg8 20.h5 but it's unclear whether Anand had found a win for White there. In the game, Black's rook had to go to the awkward h5 square. "That was unpleasant for Black, as his pieces don't coordinate very well. 22.f3 was very nice; it fortifies the bishop, threatens d5 in some lines with g4 coming..." said Anand. Black's last chance was 27...Qb3 but then the subtle 28.Kh2 looks winning too. After Kamsky and Karjakin had drawn their game quickly (the American obviously focusing on the rapid tournament from now on), all attention went to Aronian-Radjabov, in which the Armenian played amazingly fast. He obviously knew the opening variation much better than his opponent, who at a certain point had just 30 seconds left, while Aronian had over 26 minutes - yes, more than he had started with! (In the blindfold games the increment is 20 seconds; in the rapids 10). Aronian kept on playing fast till the very end and won the rook ending easily.


Carlsen-Topalov: many mistakes

For the second blindfold session we need to bring back that famous "game full of mistakes" phrase again. We're talking about Carlsen-Topalov, in which the Norwegian reached a big, almost decisive advantage due to some inaccuracies by Topalov and then fell back into his old mistake of using too much time on the clock, trying to find a forced win. From that moment mistakes were unavoidable.

25.Nd5? was a blunder (Carlsen had missed the intermediate move 26...Rxf1+) and then he overlooked 30.Qxc4 & 31.Ne6 which does win material, although at first sight it looks like it doesn't. 31.Qe7? was also wrong, but almost impossible to see how, in blindfold (31...Rg8! refutes it) and then "mutual blindness" made Carlsen play 40.Nd6? and Topalov, also believing that his king was on h8, not taking on e4. The resulting ending should have been a draw, according to Carlsen, but Topalov was the last to go wrong in this game.

Leko got far but eventually didn't manage to tear down Wang Yue's Berlin Wall and Ivanchuk, who was slowly outplayed by Morozevich, scored a lucky win when his opponent missed both 42...Rg8! (winning on the spot) and 44...Qg5! which forces White to give his rook for the f3 pawn by checking on d8.

The rapid game between Kramnik and Anand lasted just fifteen moves; in Bonn style the World Champion had surprised his opponent in the opening. Before he knew it, Kramnik was risking getting worse, and decided to offer a draw before it was too late. Naturally we have both players commenting on video.

Karjakin vs Kamsky

Karjakin scoring the only win of the day in the rapid tournament, against Kamsky

Karjakin delivered a heavy blow to Kamsky, who was the leader in the rapid tournament. A nice game by the Ukrainian in a Breyer Ruy Lopez.

Playing a bit frivolously in the opening, Aronian got into trouble against Radjabov but held his own in the ending. Carlsen and Topalov had drawn before that and so everyone was watching the last game still running: Morozevich-Ivanchuk. With everyone I mean a huge number of GMs including Cheparinov & Topalov, Carlsen, Sasikiran (also visiting the tournament), Fontaine, Kouatly (the latter two of Europe-Echecs), Carlsen, Leko, Nunn, Ljubojevic and Hort. Morozevich escaped with a draw after he had been slightly worse in the ending.

Tomorrow is the second and last rest day here in Nice. On the program: a visit to Cannes. After that an exciting final phase awaits us, with the World Champion defending a half-point lead in his last three rounds against Topalov, Morozevich and Wang Yue (in that order).

The Amber videos are now also available as an iTunes video podcast! (Link launches iTunes, if installed) You can share the Amber videos on your own web site or blog too. Just click the “Email and embed this video” button next to the volume control in the player.

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*Pairings may be changed by the arbiter depending on the standings.

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