Aronian in sole lead at Amber again

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AnandLevon Aronian is the sole leader at the Amber tournament in Nice after six rounds. The Armenian is the only player with 8/12 in the combined tournament. World Champion Anand, who beat Radjabov twice today, is now in second place together with Kramnik. Carlsen beat Morozevich 1¬?-¬? and Wang Yue won his first blindfold game, scoring 1¬?-¬? in his minimatch against Ivanchuk. Videos added!

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 6


Blindfold games:Rapid games:


The sixth round immediately took off with some amazing stuff. Let's forget about Aronian-Karjakin, who didn't do a lot except for closing up the position and then manoeuver a lot (both pawn breaks e3-e4 and g6-g5 apparently didn't appeal too much). Anand's win over Radjabov would have been very nice if the Indian hadn't blundered on move 38 ("not Rb6 but Nxa5 was the real blunder," he said), having to work hard to reach a winning position for the second time.

Kamsky-Kramnik

Kamsky and Kramnik fighting out a basic rook ending today

Kamsky beat Kramnik in a 1994-95 PCA Candidates quarter-final matches and in the blindfold game he was again a tough opponent for the Russian. For most of the game he was a pawn up and then a rook ending with just one pawn appeared on the board - the subject about which one of the spectators over here, Dr. John Nunn, wrote a whole book!

Thanks to the tablebases we know that Kramnik only made one mistake in this rook ending, and it was... his very first move! 69...Ra5 loses, and with 71.Re7 Kamsky threw away the win, and after that it was always a draw, Kramnik defending impeccably. We give this game below according to the "Nunn convention": question marks change the evaluation of the position, exclamation marks are only moves to keep the evaluation the same.



Due to this game the next blindfold session was delayed about 20 minutes, but that one was finished relatively quickly so the tournament could return to its regular time schedule.

There was another blow at the start of that second session, where Leko suddenly beat Topalov in just 24 moves. The Bulgarian mixed up something in the opening and was already in trouble after 20.Ne5, and 20...Qxd4 just loses by force.

Carlsen then won a nice game against Morozevich, using a new strategy. "After yesterday I just wanted to relax and play quickly, and it worked," he said. For this game it wasn't difficult to change his attitude like that, since he thought the position to be "quite easy to play". 15...f6 weakened Black's king too much and a few moves later it was basically over.

Ivanchuk-Wang Yue

Wang Yue now scored his first blindfold win against Ivanchuk

Wang Yue has got the spirit, and now even managed to win a blindfold game too, with Black against Ivanchuk. The Ukrainian lost a piece in the end, but was probably already losing after 22.exf4? where 22.Bd4 is better.

Aronian defeated Karjakin with Black in a Berlin Wall (remember that after beating Kamsky with it at Corus, he said he likes to use it when he wants to try for a win), but not as smoothly as it looked. He was winning, but with 55...c5? he spoilt it. After the excellent move 57.f5! Karjakin could have drawn with 58.Ke2! but he missed it, after which it was lost again.

Anand decided to make a 2-0 today, outplaying Radjabov in a Panov Caro-Kann where the IQP started to tell in the ending - model play by the World Champ. After their show in the blindfold, Kramnik and Kamsky drew again in the rapid, in which the Russian was a pawn up this time but heavy timetrouble didn't really help to make progress.

A quick draw in Morozevich-Carlsen; the Norwegian didn't think it was anything special. "After 18...d4 is was just equal." After Black's 24th move, Ljubojevic said: "Morozevich has to be smart now. If he's not going to be smart, he's going to lose. He has to take the knight and go for a draw." A minute later Carlsen came in the room; the game had lasted just one move longer and it was the one Ljubo had suggested.

Topalov went for a quiet version against Leko's Lopez, but it kind of backfired as Black got the upper hand in the middlegame. Eventually the Bulgarian could limit the damage by liquidating to a rook ending with a pawn less, which was not difficult to hold. Wang Yue again played an excellent game and had good chances for a 2-0, but then missed one or two wins in the rook ending. Always look for intermediate checks - here 55.Ra6+ would have been strong, before capturing the a-pawn. Later 58.Rd7 seems to be +- too.

All in all another good round, and good fun again. Tomorrow the top match Aronian vs Kramnik is scheduled.


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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