Reports | March 12, 2011 8:30

Carlsen-Nakamura and Anand-Topalov in first round Amber Tournament

Carlsen-Nakamura and Anand-Topalov in first round AmberThe 20th and final Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament will take off with some spectacular pairings. The first round, played on Saturday, will see Carlsen-Nakamura and Anand-Topalov. The other match-ups are Aronian-Giri, Ivanchuk-Gashimov, Karjakin-Gelfand and Grischuk-Kramnik. This was the result of the drawing of lots on Friday night in Cafe de Paris, Monaco.

Below are the full pairings of the 2011 Amber tournament, courtesy of chief arbiter Geurt Gijssen:

Saturday, March 12, Round 1
14.30 Blindfold Nakamura-Carlsen Aronian-Giri Ivanchuk-Gashimov
16.00 Karjakin-Gelfand Grischuk-Kramnik Anand-Topalov
17.45 Rapid Carlsen-Nakamura Giri-Aronian Gashimov-Ivanchuk
19.15 Gelfand-Karjakin Kramnik-Grischuk Topalov-Anand
Sunday, March 13, Round 2
14.30 Blindfold Topalov-Karjakin Kramnik-Anand Gelfand-Grischuk
16.00 Carlsen-Gashimov Giri-Ivanchuk Nakamura-Aronian
17.45 Rapid Karjakin-Topalov Anand-Kramnik Grischuk-Gelfand
19.15 Gashimov-Carlsen Ivanchuk-Giri Aronian-Nakamura
Monday, March 14, Round 3
14.30 Blindfold Aronian-Carlsen Ivanchuk-Nakamura Gashimov-Giri
16.00 Grischuk-Karjakin Anand-Gelfand Kramnik-Topalov
17.45 Rapid Carlsen-Aronian Nakamura-Ivanchuk Giri-Gashimov
19.15 Karjakin-Grischuk Gelfand-Anand Topalov-Kramnik
Tuesday, March 15, Round 4
14.30 Blindfold Karjakin-Kramnik Gelfand-Topalov Grischuk-Anand
16.00 Carlsen-Giri Nakamura-Gashimov Aronian-Ivanchuk
17.45 Rapid Kramnik-Karjakin Topalov-Gelfand Anand-Grischuk
19.15 Giri-Carlsen Gashimov-Nakamura Ivanchuk-Aronian
Wednesday, March 16, Rest day
Thursday, March 17, Round 5
14.30 Blindfold Ivanchuk-Carlsen Gashimov-Aronian Giri-Nakamura
16.00 Anand-Karjakin Topalov-Grischuk Kramnik-Gelfand
17.45 Rapid Carlsen-Ivanchuk Aronian-Gashimov Nakamura-Giri
19.15 Karjakin-Anand Grischuk-Topalov Gelfand-Kramnik
Friday, March 18, Round 6
14.30 Blindfold Gelfand-Nakamura Grischuk-Aronian Anand-Ivanchuk
16.00 Topalov-Gashimov Kramnik-Giri Karjakin-Carlsen
17.45 Rapid Nakamura-Gelfand Aronian-Grischuk Ivanchuk-Anand
19.15 Gashimov-Topalov Giri-Kramnik Carlsen-Karjakin
Saturday, March 19, Round 7
14.30 Blindfold Giri-Topalov Carlsen-Kramnik Gashimov-Karjakin
16.00 Aronian-Gelfand Ivanchuk-Grischuk Nakamura-Anand
17.45 Rapid Topalov-Giri Kramnik-Carlsen Karjakin-Gashimov
19.15 Gelfand-Aronian Grischuk-Ivanchuk Anand-Nakamura
Sunday, March 20, Round 8
14.30 Blindfold Grischuk-Nakamura Anand-Aronian Gelfand-Ivanchuk
16.00 Kramnik-Gashimov Karjakin-Giri Topalov-Carlsen
17.45 Rapid Nakamura-Grischuk Aronian-Anand Ivanchuk-Gelfand
19.15 Gashimov-Kramnik Giri-Karjakin Carlsen-Topalov
Monday, March 21, Rest day
Tuesday, March 22, Round 9
14.30 Blindfold Gashimov-Gelfand Giri-Grischuk Carlsen-Anand
16.00 Nakamura-Topalov Aronian-Kramnik Ivanchuk-Karjakin
17.45 Rapid Gelfand-Gashimov Grischuk-Giri Anand-Carlsen
19.15 Topalov-Nakamura Kramnik-Aronian Karjakin-Ivanchuk
Wednesday, March 23, Round 10
14.30 Blindfold Topalov-Aronian Kramnik-Ivanchuk Karjakin-Nakamura
16.00 Gelfand-Giri Grischuk-Carlsen Anand-Gashimov
17.45 Rapid Aronian-Topalov Ivanchuk-Kramnik Nakamura-Karjakin
19.15 Giri-Gelfand Carlsen-Grischuk Gashimov-Anand
Thursday, March 24, Round 11*
14.30 Blindfold Carlsen-Gelfand Gashimov-Grischuk Giri-Anand
16.00 Ivanchuk-Topalov Nakamura-Kramnik Aronian-Karjakin
17.45 Rapid Gelfand-Carlsen Grischuk-Gashimov Anand-Giri
19.15 Topalov-Ivanchuk Kramnik-Nakamura Karjakin-Aronian

* Based on the standings before the last round the chief arbiter may change the schedule.

The 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament will take place at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco, from March 11 to 25, 2011. The tournament is organized by the Association Max Euwe of chess maecenas Joop van Oosterom, which is based in Monaco. This 20th Amber tournament will be the final edition of an event unparalleled in the history of chess. The total prize-fund is € 227,000.



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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Mac's picture

Thumbs up if you love Chess !!

Sander's picture

What is this? Youtube?

Mac's picture

Thumbs up if you love Youtube !!

aun1's picture

kramnik is getting no respect. the man has won more tournaments in monaco/nice than anyone else. that's alright though; no one gave him a chance against kasparov or topalov either. how did that turn out?

gg's picture

No one gave him a chance against Topalov? If I recall correctly he was the betting favourite. He'll probably finish somewhere around 6th in Amber as predicted by the voters, but he did win 92-11 in votes against Grischuk so the question is what player that gets no respect. Grischuk was in a class of his own in the blindfold section last year and if he just had played rapid on his normal level he would have won easily. Maybe he'll do it this year, maybe not, but 0.74% of the votes sounds low. But apart from Grischuk the votes seem very reasonable to me.

columbo's picture

it's a bit easy to talk about grishuk when the whole world knows that grishuk just won 2 -0 against kramnik ... for the rest, i totally agree with you !

gg's picture

At least I posted before the second game was played :-) But it's not surprising that Grischuk played well in those games, he must have the best stats in the world against Kramnik, counting all formats, in recent years. It's 8-2 in wins after 2003, and 8-4 in all. The second game today was a terrible effort by Kramnik though, he can't have played worse than that in many rapid games.

Thomas's picture

The poll is, at least partly, also a popularity contest - else it wouldn't make sense that Giri is well ahead of Grischuk, Gelfand, Karjakin and Gashimov. And I think it cannot be used to establish a ranking beyond first place - voters weren't asked whether e.g. Karjakin will finish second, sixth or twelfth, only whether he can win the event.
The statistics between Kramnik and Grischuk are (or were before today) solely based on blitz games, 5-1 in favor of Grischuk. Yes, Kramnik's rapid game today was strange but basically just due to one bad move (18.Nc6?!), a momentarily lapse of reason rather than a bad game from start to finish.

gg's picture

The statistics aren't solely based on blitz games, but 6 of the 12 decisive games between them have been blitz (and 8 of the 20 games they have played in all). Anyway, Kramnik is a great blindfold and blitz player, so Grischuk's having 7-1 against him in these formats is quite unusual.

Thomas's picture

OK, my choice of words was misleading: Grischuk's _advantage_ is/was solely or mostly based on blitz games. The other decisive games were rapid (now 3-1 for Kramnik) and blindfold (now 2-0 for Grischuk). All six classical games between them were drawn. The fact that there were just six classical games between them since 2003 also indicates that not only poll participants, but also tournament organizers "lack respect for Grischuk" or at least hesitate to invite several Russians to the same event. By comparison, Kramnik and Nakamura played five classical games since December 2009 (2*London, 2*Corus/Tata, Tal Memorial - plus another one at the Olympiad).

columbo's picture

yeap, kramnik apparently forgot to take off his sunglasses after the picture was taken :)

RealityCheck's picture

3 points for gg !!!

SXL's picture

Silly comment. Both Najdorf and Tal liked to have an empty board in front of them, during displays.
This is a very practical way of doing it when it's blindfold one-on-one, with three games being played simultaneously, and when you can't announce moves, which one usually does when otherwise playing blindfold.

They see the last ply on the screen, and respond with the mouse. If you have Fritz 12, you can try for yourself. It has the function.

Paul V's picture

Couldn´t find anything about Najdorf playing with a board here:

Anyway, my point is still that I am absolutely positive that playing without a board is easier than with. Just as it would be easier to play blindfold, if you were allowed to write down the moves. And that arguing that these are chess-gods that play flawlessly regardless, simply is proved wrong by looking at their games.

Calling what they play in this tournament for "blindfold chess", is very misleading to the common conception of what this basic term means to most chess-players and all non-players.

Who cares about practical stuff in Monaco? If they throw a tournament like this in one of the most expensive places on earth, surely they could accommodate something more than what you can do with fritz at home...

gg's picture

Great blindfold game by Grischuk, Kramnik is one of the better blindfold players and still he was just crushed.

Chess Fan's picture

Hi East Indians,

There are a billion of you in India. Why are you letting positive things about Anand always "thumbed-down" in majority by E.Europeans while Danilov and others get the up vote (he/they should get the "up-your" vote, maybe!)? I forget, you Indians are soft, have no pride in things that matter, even if your guy is a World Champion, and never fight back,

Here is my one thumbs-up for Anand from N.America.

Chess Fan

LMedemblik's picture

Impressive site!

Mauricio Valdés's picture

Kramnik will kick some ass!
Vlad to the bone!

Vamsi Krishna's picture

Anand will win

Ishaat Chowdhry's picture

This is got be one of the strongest fields ever in this tournament.. cant wait for the games to start!! go anand!

KING's picture

Looks like Anand is motivated to win this last version...

unknown's picture

Go Topa!

Paul V's picture

How come they call it blindfold, when it clearly isn´t?
Playing with an empty board, is much easier.

john's picture

None of the players need the board so it is irrelevant. Any strong chess player can play blindfolded with no board, and these players are the elite.

Paul V's picture

I would bet money on that the error rate would go up even for these players when playing truly blindfolded. They make mistakes even under current rules.

john's picture

If you work at chess and become strong enough to play blindfold properly you will see having or not having an empty board is irrelevent.

Paul V's picture

1st round easily proved my point: a lot more mistakes than what one would expect compared to just plain rapid. Sad that REAL blindfold is completely dead these days. Najdorf played 45 boards simultaneous blindfolded back in 1947! - who could do anything close to that today?

LMedemblik's picture

Werkt bij mij weer voor geen meter :-(

Burnett's picture

dit werkt in elk geval

Burnett's picture

Are the games broadcasted live anywhere?

lefier's picture

Amber is a great tournament for chess-enthusiasts. A pity it is the last of its kind.

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