Carlsen wins 2-0 again, joins Ivanchuk in the lead

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Carlsen wins 2-0 again, joins Ivanchuk in the leadAfter winning 2-0 one more time, today against Smeets, Carlsen joined Vasily Ivanchuk in the lead in Nice. The Ukrainian on his turn defeated Aronian 1.5-0.5, while Kramnik went down 2-0 against Gelfand.

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 4

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Round 4 report

Magnus Carlsen catches up with Vasily Ivanchuk after third 2-0 wipe-out After four rounds of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament, Magnus Carlsen and Vasily Ivanchuk are tied for first in the overall standings with 6 points from 8 games. The Ukrainian grandmaster defeated last year’s winner Levon Aronian 1½-½. Magnus Carlsen continued his remarkable comeback after he lost 2-0 to Ivanchuk in Round 1. The world’s number one defeated Jan Smeets 2-0, raising his number of consecutive wins to six. Manifold Amber winner Vladimir Kramnik suffered a highly atypical 2-0 defeat at the hands of Boris Gelfand. Perhaps typical for the fighting spirit of the round was the fact that 5 out the 6 rapid games were won by black. Tomorrow, March 17, is a rest day. Play is resumed Thursday March 18 with Round 5.

Magnus Carlsen was understandably ambitious to continue his winning streak in his blindfold game against bottom-seed Jan Smeets. Despite a modest opening set-up (that started with 1.g3) he indeed got an edge, but there was no reason for Black to despair yet. Afterwards Carlsen commented that had Smeets just stayed put, instead of becoming active with 31…Rc3, he didn’t see how he could have made progress. Smeets’ action was based on a miscalculation. After 32…Rxc4 the only reply he had counted on was 33.Rd6+, but instead Carlsen dealt a killer blow with 33.Bg5. Three moves later Black resigned, raising Carlsen’s winning streak to five. In the rapid game the Norwegian also scored his sixth consecutive win, but this time he really had to squeeze water from a stone. After the opening he was slightly worse, but he kept looking for his chances, collecting one minimal asset after the other. On move 33 there was a minuscule victory when he exchanged his knight for a bishop and with 38…g5 he made a brave winning attempt, as he let the white c-pawn on the board. Objectively speaking all his tries would have been in vain had Smeets kept his cool, but low and time and feeling the pressure the Dutchman finally succumbed. As late as move 54 he still could have made a draw with 54.Nh2 as this saves an essential tempo compared to the move he played, 54.Nf2.


The blindfold game between tournament leader Vasily Ivanchuk and defending champion Levon Aronian suddenly ended when the board was still full of pawns and pieces when on move 25 White offered a draw. In a slightly unorthodox Ruy Lopez it seemed that Black had obtained a good game, but Aronian wasn’t so sure. When he was asked why he had accepted the draw, he simply replied: ‘Because I am worse.’ And he elaborated that his pieces might look nice and active, but that White can slowly continue h3, Rd1 and c4, and on top of that he didn’t like the g5-h4 pawn-structure on the kingside either. In the rapid game Ivanchuk maintained the (shared) lead with a fine win with the black pieces. A speculative piece sacrifice by Aronian (19.Nxe6) for three pawns and the initiative failed to impress and although the game remained complicated Ivanchuk hauled in the point with determined and precise play.


In the blindfold game between Peter Svidler and Sergey Karjakin a tense Sicilian with chances for both sides saw an untimely and unfortunate end when on move 42, White put a knight en prise. Following his resignation yesterday against Carlsen when there was still everything to play for, this was a new blow for the Russian grandmaster. Svidler found some consolation in a well-played rapid game that finally brought him a win again. In his beloved Grünfeld Defence he believed that his 12…Rd8 was a safe road to equality, but it required accurate play. Instead of 17…g5 he could also have played 17…c4, but he felt more attracted to the push of the g-pawn. Karjakin felt optimistic about his chances when he won a pawn, but in fact this materialistic decision spelled disaster, as very soon the black pieces assembled for a strong attack. One nice line that didn’t appear on the board was 24.Bf2 (in the game 24.Bd7 was played) 24…Nxf3 25.Bg3 Qxg3! 26.hxg3 Rh6+ 27.Kg2 Rh2 mate. The end of the game was less drastic, but nevertheless there was no escaping for White.

Boris Gelfand didn’t hide his contentment after he had won his blindfold game against Vladimir Kramnik. ‘It’s always nice to win against such a great player’, he almost humbly commented. The Israeli grandmaster more or less blamed Black’s defeat on the opening system he had chosen, the Bg4-system that is mainly popular among some Azeri players. One of the ideas of the black approach is the exchange sacrifice on e3 that also happened in this game. Gelfand wasn’t convinced of its correctness and suggested Black should have looked for something else at that point. He pointed out the sad offside position of the black knight on c7 in particular and quoted Tarrasch who said that if one piece doesn’t take part in the play there’s something wrong with the entire position. Gelfand was satisfied with his plan Bd1 and Ne2 which allowed him to cement his advantage and slowly but surely win the game. In the rapid game Kramnik was perhaps too cautious in his approach, certainly if he had clear plans to level the score, and this seriously backfired. Playing actively Gelfand freely advanced his pawns and directed his pieces to active positions. Objectively speaking, White was not yet in trouble, but Black’s position was much more pleasant and easy to play. Gradually the black pressure built up and following a blunder, 31.Rc2, Kramnik soon had to throw in the towel. An impressive achievement by Gelfand.


Ruslan Ponomariov seemed determined to blow up Vugar Gashimov’s Benoni Defence in their blindfold game and judging by the comments of the kibitzing grandmasters in the hospitality lounge he was soon on his way to realize that objective. But then the Benoni is a resilient customer and although his position looked highly suspect, Gashimov seemed to have no wish to surrender without a fight. He stayed afoot in the complications and he could have even taken over the initiative if instead of 31…Rh8+ he had gone 31…Rxf4 32.Rxf4 Qh6+. But soon he was in the driver’s seat anyway when White first missed the winning continuations 32.Kg2 and next 32.Kg1. Instead the players ended up in a rook ending with one pawn (white) against two. This they played on for many more moves until on move 68 the computer indicated a threefold repetition and the game was drawn. The rapid game was a protracted battle in which the balance was not really disturbed for a long time. Nevertheless, Gashimov managed to upset the equilibrium in the endgame and score his second win in the tournament.


Alexander Grischuk was clearly satisfied after his blindfold win against Leinier Dominguez and he had every reason to. In a Sicilian Najdorf that his opponent had clearly prepared (Dominguez blitzed out his first 18 moves), the Russian champion was in a creative mood and managed to create attacking chances with pointed play. Probably the key moment of the game was the point where White played 23.Qh5, a move that Black had missed and that netted White the important f7 pawn. Grischuk kept playing strong and incisive chess and after 63 moves he had earned a well-deserved point. The rapid game also saw a Najdorf, but (not surprisingly) a different line. Dominguez’ troubles started when early on in the opening he played his knight to d5 and shortly afterwards had to withdraw it to c3 again, losing two precious tempi. Grischuk obtained a comfortable game and it was impressive to see how he gradually exploited his advantage to score his second win of the day.


Report & photos © official website, more here


Amber 2010 | Pairings & results

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


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