Carlsen & Ivanchuk joint winners Amber

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Amber R11: Grischuk wins blindfold, Carlsen blunders queenMagnus Carlsen and Vassily Ivanchuk shared first place at the Amber tournament in Nice. Carlsen blundered a full queen in his blindold game against Alexander Grischuk, but then won the rapid game convincingly. Vassily Ivanchuk defeated Boris Gelfand 1.5-0.5 to join the Norwegian in first place in the combined standings. There's no sole winner; the two share first prize.

The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament takes place at the Palais de la Mediterranée in Nice, France, from March 12 to 25, 2010. The event is organized by the Association Max Euwe of chess maecenas Joop van Oosterom, which is based in Monaco. The total prize-fund is € 216,000.

The following twelve grandmasters take part: Magnus Carlsen (Norway, 2813), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia, 2790), Levon Aronian (Armenia, 2782), Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 2756), Boris Gelfand (Israel, 2750), Peter Svidler (Russia, 2750), Vasily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2748), Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan, 2740), Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine, 2737), Sergey Karjakin (Russia, 2725), Leinier Dominguez (Cuba, 2713) and Jan Smeets (The Netherlands, 2651).

Games round 11

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Round 11 report

Carlsen and Ivanchuk win 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament has ended in an overall victory for Norway’s Magnus Carlsen and Ukraine’s Vasily Ivanchuk. In the 11th and final round Ivanchuk caught up with Carlsen thanks to a 1½-½ victory over Boris Gelfand. In the rapid session Carlsen had to defeat Alexander Grischuk to assemble the same number of points as Ivanchuk after he had dropped his queen in the blindfold game. Alexander Grischuk won the blindfold section one and a half point ahead of Carlsen, Ivanchuk and Kramnik. In the rapid section Carlsen and Ivanchuk finished on top together.

The blindfold game between Vugar Gashimov and Peter Svidler ended in a draw by threefold repetition, but also saw both players drop a pawn at quite different moments in the game. Gashimov sacrificed a pawn in the opening because he believed that he could win Black’s queen, but once that ‘moment’ arrived he realized that after 21.b4 Qxb4 22.Bd2 Black has the simple 22…Qa4 and no queen is lost. After that oversight Svidler was a healthy pawn up and winning until it was his turn to throw a pawn for nothing. Slightly low on time he erred with 40…Nb6 (correct was 40…Bd8 41.Bb2 Bc7) and was immediately punished for his oversight (if you can call it that way in a blindfold game) by 41.Bxf7+. In the ensuing situation White had the better chances, but when Gashimov didn’t exploit them optimally the game ended in a draw. With a further draw in the rapid game Svidler was happy that he finished on plus-1, which means that now his overall Amber score is positive as well (he started the event with 22 points from 44 games played in two previous Ambers). In the opening Gashimov simplified into a position that Svidler was quite pleased with. When on move 17 he put his knight on d6, he believed he was much better, but actually this knight didn’t bring him much at all. Still, he got the clearly better position when Black committed some inaccuracies and after 28…Rc8, a remarkable position arose in which White had an extra pawn, but Black a threatening front of central passed pawns. The position remained complicated, but as Svidler summed up the final moves ‘it seems to be a draw tempo by tempo’.


In their blindfold game Leinier Dominguez played an opening line against Levon Aronian that the Armenian had been studying recently with the intention to play it as White! Perhaps that was the reason why afterwards the Armenian grandmaster could easily point out the mistakes his Cuban colleague made. To begin with the only move with which White can play for an advantage is 10.e4, as all other tries are fine for Black. It would also have been safer for Dominguez to exchange queens himself and on move 13, it would have been better to look for play with 13.g4. And next 16.a3 had to be played as White was simply lost after 16.Bg2. However, Aronian also made a slip, when he missed that he could have won immediately with 18…Rfd8+ 19.Kb1 Ba3! Fortunately for him the idea was still winning one move later, after which the rest was easy. The rapid game seemed to be giving Dominguez good chances for his first win, but it wasn’t to be. In the opening Aronian believed he was repeating a Kramnik game from the 1993 Amber tournament, but his memory wasn’t entirely clear. In hindsight he believed his move 19.Bxd4 was too optimistic (a move like 19.Na4 was called for) and from that moment onwards he was slightly worse. He got optimistic again when he managed to stir up counterplay, but it was not enough. As he remarked with a resigned expression: ‘You can’t win if you’re opponent has a passed a-pawn.’


Ruslan Ponomariov and Jan Smeets played an Exchange Slav in their blindfold game in which Black got a backward pawn that he compensated by active play. This play might have been even more active if he had interpolated 26…Qb8 to challenge White’s weakness on g3 (White therefore continues 27.f4), but as it went chances remained balanced. White might have stirred up complications with 30.Qxa1 Qxe3+ 31.Kd1 Bd3, but when he didn’t go for this possibility the game was soon drawn. The rapid game was a lively exchange of exchange sacrifices, that ended to Ponomariov’s advantage when the third exchange sacrifice lacked punch. Smeets got a pleasant position from the opening and his first exchange sacrifice had its merits in view of Black’s fractured pawn-structure. Nevertheless he preferred to call it ‘completely nonsensical’ after the game. Still, his game improved when Ponomariov felt forced to give back the exchange and this improved position even inspired Smeets to sacrifice another exchange. However, as said, it was hard to explain its strength and without too much effort Black hauled in the point.


Boris Gelfand was confronted by an interesting novelty in his blindfold game against Vasily Ivanchuk. In a well-known position the Ukrainian grandmaster introduced an inspired exchange sacrifice. Commenting on the game Gelfand said that it was hard to say if Black’s compensation was fully sufficient or not, but in any case it was easier to play the black position, particularly in a blindfold game. In the game Gelfand looked hard to find ways to exploit his material advantage, but when he failed to see a concrete way to make progress he accepted a draw by a repetition of moves on move 33. The rapid game saw a Petroff with 5.c3 that soon got very complicated. Gelfand seemed to be in control, but Ivanchuk was relentless and whipped up a devastating attack that crashed through in only 32 moves.


‘It’s getting hot all of a sudden’, commented Vladimir Kramnik after he had won the blindfold game against Sergey Karjakin, obviously referring to the overall standings that suddenly also offered chances for him again. The game was a repeat of their last-round encounter in this year’s Corus tournament, with Kramnik deviating with 14.Nb5. On his next turn he introduced a novelty, 19.Bg5, which proved a pretty strong improvement. After the bishops had been exchanged ‘things were no longer funny for Black’ as Kramnik put it. In fact he believed that from this moment onwards White was winning and although Karjakin managed to create some counterchances he thought that that assessment held true for the rest of the game. ‘A rather clean game’, he concluded with a satisfied smile. In the rapid game Kramnik fought for his last chance with a Pirc. Not hiding his intentions he sacrificed a knight for two pawns, but he failed to shock Karjakin, who called the sacrifice ‘dubious’. White got a slightly better position, but he needed to make some precise moves to really shake off the black pressure, such as 21.Nc3 and 22.Ra4. Gradually Karjakin took over the initiative and decided the game in a fierce kingside attack.


The blindfold game between Alexander Grischuk and Magnus Carlsen, the leader and runner-up in the blindfold standings, took a dramatic turn when the Norwegian believed that his opponent’s queen was on a different square. Till that point he had conducted an excellent game and had gradually outplayed Grischuk on the black side of a King’s Indian. If instead of 23…Qh4 Carlsen had played 23…Qf6, White would have faced a tough task after 24.Qd2 Qd4 and White can barely move. But Carlsen believed White’s queen was on d2 and thought he was capturing an unprotected pawn on e4. Once he realized this was not so there was no choice but to resign. In the rapid game Carlsen was happy with the position he got from the opening. He didn’t obtain a real advantage, but it was ‘complicated enough’. And he felt that his position was easier to play, which he proved in the middlegame when he managed to create a serious advantage. By the time Ivanchuk won his rapid game against Gelfand and walked over to have a brief look at Carlsen’s game, the Ukrainian grandmaster understood that he and Carlsen were going to be the joint winners of the 19th Amber tournament.


Report & photos © official website, more here


Amber 2010 | Pairings & results

Amber 2010 | Blindfold Final Standings
Amber 2010 | Blindfold Standings
Amber 2010 | Rapid Final Standings
Amber 2010 | Blindfold Standings
Amber 2010 | Combined Final Standings
Amber 2010 | Blindfold Standings


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