Reports | March 15, 2011 2:49

Aronian and Carlsen sharing lead at Amber

Amber R3: Aronian and Carlsen sharing firstLevon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen are sharing the lead at the 2011 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament, after three rounds. The world's number 2 and 3, who drew twice with each other today, scored 4.5 points out of 6 games in total.

General info

The 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament takes 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 is the final edition of an event unparalleled in the history of chess. The total prize-fund is € 227,000. The rate of play is 25 minutes per game per player. With every move made in the blindfold games 20 seconds is added to the clock, with every move made in the rapid games 10 seconds is added. Full schedule here.

Monday, March 14, Round 3
14.30 Blindfold Aronian ½-½ Carlsen Ivanchuk 0-1 Nakamura Gashimov 1-0 Giri
16.00 Grischuk ½-½ Karjakin Anand ½-½ Gelfand Kramnik 1-0 Topalov
17.45 Rapid Carlsen ½-½ Aronian Nakamura ½-½ Ivanchuk Giri ½-½ Gashimov
19.15 Karjakin 1-0 Grischuk Gelfand 0-1 Anand Topalov 1-0 Kramnik

Aronian and Carlsen in lead together after three rounds

Round 3 report courtesy of the official website

In the third round of the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament, Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen have taken the joint lead. Their direct encounter ended in a 1-1 tie after a rollercoaster rapid game, which was enough to shake off yesterday’s co-leader Alexander Grischuk. The Russian lost ½-1½ to his compatriot Sergey Karjakin. After three rounds Aronian and Grischuk top the blindfold standings, while Carlsen is first in the rapid competition.
The Game of the Day Prize was awarded to Vugar Gashimov for his fine blindfold win against Anish Giri.

The blindfold game between the leaders Levon Aronian and Magnus Carlsen was a rather uneventful affair. ‘There is not much to say’, was the Norwegian’s correct comment. Aronian regretted his plan with 9.Bc3 and 10.Bb2, which led to a ‘very boring game’. They played on till move 37 and then, as ‘there were no breaking points’ (Carlsen) they agreed on a draw.

The rapid game was a draw of a completely different nature. John Nunn rated it high on Aronian’s swindle scale and Carlsen could only shake his head in disbelief and compare the game to a similar experience he had against the same opponent two years ago. The opening wasn’t a big success for Black, who particularly disliked his bishop move 8…Be6. After 15.Qb3 Aronian felt that he was as good as lost, ‘but then with 15…a5 the usual swindling started’. For the moment without much success as with 18.Qc6 Bxd5 19.Qxd5 Carlsen could have gotten a most pleasant advantage. But instead (Carlsen: ‘Which idiot spurns the possibility to get a position with a healthy extra pawn?’) he started a tactical excursion that ended in a position that was fine, but not as good as it could have been. And then White started to drift and ended up in a lost position. Which was the moment for Aronian to lose the thread. After 44 moves the players decided that the rook ending was a draw.


Last year’s winner Vasily Ivanchuk suffered his third loss in this Amber edition in the blindfold game against Hikaru Nakamura. The American played well, and unlike some of his previous games he not only played well, but also moved quickly. Nakamura was critical of Ivanchuk’s 15.Nxb6 (better 15.a4 followed by a5) which gave him ‘a very easy position’. Still, Ivanchuk in normal shape would certainly have fought back better against Black’s initiative. Now he lost a piece in broad daylight after only 27 moves.

Although he was Black in the rapid game, this time it was Ivanchuk who was calling the shots. He got a promising advantage, but felt that he had lost the thread of the game when faced by too many attractive possibilities. And as happens so often in such situations of luxury, the advantage evaporated and a draw was the result.


In the blindfold game between Vugar Gashimov and Anish Giri, the young Dutchman took a gamble that backfired. He knew full well that the line he played against the Keres Attack was dangerous, but he hoped his opponent wasn’t familiar with it. And, on top of that, they were playing blindfold, weren’t they? Indeed Gashimov’s knowledge ended relatively early (after 13.f4), but that didn’t stop him from continuing forcefully. His move 18.Rd3 was strong and soon Black made a mistake with far-reaching consequences. Instead of 20…f6 he absolutely should have played 20…f5 with reasonable play. After his mistake Black’s minor pieces were shut off from the action and White could start his final assault. The last chance of survival Giri had was 23…h5, when he missed that opportunity the rest was suffering. Giri was annoyed with himself, but when he watched the replay of the moves on a monitor he magnanimously admitted: ‘Actually it was very nice how he finished it.’ Indeed you shouldn’t miss the textbook mating net that Gashimov weaved.

Faced by a Benoni in the rapid game, one of Gashimov’s favourites, Giri opted for a line that he had once seen Loek van Wely use to beat Veselin Topalov. The choice was intended as a tribute to his second, who will arrive in Monaco later tonight to assist Giri. There was nothing wrong with this choice, but with 23.Bf1 he spoiled the advantage he would have had after 23.Qd2. And things got even worse when he erred with 31.g3 instead of stopping the black rook from coming to a1 with 31.Re1. Suddenly Giri was fighting for survival, which he managed to do when Gashimov allowed himself some inaccuracies.


Alexander Grischuk had good hopes in his blindfold game against Sergey Karjakin, but had to settle for a draw. ‘I had an advantage but it is unclear where I should have played better’, the Russian summed up the course of the game. An essential part of Black’s defence was 25…a5, ‘a great move by Sergey’ in Grischuk’s words.

In the rapid game Karjakin scored his first win. ‘As always’ his white game against Grischuk saw a Najdorf. With his choice of sub-variation Karjakin may have sprung a surprise on his opponent, as he copied the game Dominguez-Grischuk from last year’s Amber which Grischuk had won. Black’s difficulties started with 19…Bd7. Better would have been 19…h5 to stop White from moving his pawn to h5. Karjakin profited from his thorough preparation, He only started to think after Black’s 21st move, which he had looked at in the morning, concluding that it was not the most accurate. Black’s final mistake came on move 29, where he should have tried 29…Bc5. After 29…Bc6 White stayed ahead a pawn and the rest was a classical case of ‘technique’.


In their blindfold game Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand followed in the footsteps of a game Gelfand played last year (with the white pieces!) against Peter Leko. Anand deviated with 20.Nb1, where Gelfand had gone 20.Ne2. A complicated struggle developed where Gelfand gradually got into trouble after 26…Nxb2 (better was 26…Ne5) and 36…f5 (he should have played 36…Bb6). Now Black was lost, but Gelfand continued to fight and was rewarded for his perseverance when Anand missed a win on move 57. He could have won with 57.Ke1 Bf7 58.Kd2. Anand had been under the misconceived impression that he would win with 59.h6, but when he reached the point where he could play it, he realized that Black holds the draw with 59…Kf6.

After a very sharp opening in the rapid game Anand got a better game with the black pieces. After 24 moves he had the feeling that he had Gelfand on the ropes, but that was the sign for the Israeli grandmaster to start defending incredibly well. After the game Anand said that he had mainly played on ‘out of irritation’ for letting slip his advantage. The irritation paid off. Gelfand gradually lost the thread of the position and after 53 moves Anand cashed a full point.


At the start of the blindfold game between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov there was a distinctive interest on the journalists’ part if the two old rivals would shake hands or not. Let’s say that to both it didn’t come as a surprise that they did not. The game didn’t go too well for Topalov. Playing passively he allowed White to build up a formidable centre. Kramnik criticized the plan with 18…Rb8 and 19…b6 as being too slow. Afterwards the Russian was not sure if he had followed the correct route, but when he saw that he could win an exchange he went that way. Still, things were not entirely clear, Black’s bishops were strong, and he also was afraid that he might once again spoil a well-played game with an oversight. But this time any possible stumbling blocks were removed when Topalov overstepped the time after 40 moves.

The rapid game was a tense fight. At first Kramnik seemed to be on his way to a second win, until he let Topalov creep back into the game. The tables were turned completely when the Russian gave up a pawn out of free will, but failed to use the space he had created for himself. A further mistake made Topalov’s task easier and soon Black’s resistance collapsed.

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Amber Tournament 2011 | Blindfold | Round 3 Standings

Amber Tournament 2011 | Rapid | Round 3 Standings

Amber Tournament 2011 | Combined | Round 3 Standings

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


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.


Fireblade's picture

Had Anand not 'missed' the win against Gelfand he would be in the lead today. But again he is human after all....

The Golden Knight's picture

You could use that argument in any match:
Hadn´t Giri...
Hadn´t Naka...
Hadn´t Magnus...

With no mistakes on the table every game would have been draw (maybe that is Anans wet dream?

The Golden Knight's picture

Sorry for misspelling Anands name...

Fireblade's picture

Agree Golden Knight....but I was just being a fan !

Fireblade's picture

Agree Golden Knight....but I was just being a fan !

smartasssmart's picture

Hey u smartie. ebutalijp

There are no dumb questions. He just didnt know and now he does. Thats what forums are for too.

ebutaljib's picture

Such questions show complete ignorance by the one who asks them. And if a person has so little knowledge about professional chess then does it really matter if they are rated or not? Why is this information important for a person with so little knowledge about professional chess?

Taxman575's picture

Don't be such an elitist! We should be wanting more people to learn about chess and not push people away.

Arne Moll's picture

I guess the most important question is: Is the Handshake Gambit still playable after today?

Rob Brown's picture

To be precise, Arne, that's the Handshake Gambit Declined.

ebutaljib's picture

How can it be declined if nobody offered?

noyb's picture

Topalov has proven that he's not a gentleman or a sportsman. I would not only refuse to shake his hand, I would refuse to play him.

the fan's picture

Do you think that you are good enough to play with former World Champion??? He will beat you "blind" & sleeping.

Chess Fan's picture

He was not saying that he is good enough to beat the FORMER world chess champion. He was making a rhetorical statement of how much he dislikes Topolov as a person and his manners by saying he would not only shake hands with him but refuse to play him.

Chess Fan

we vibe's picture

I believe everything published made a lot of sense.

But, think on this, suppose you typed a catchier title?
I mean, I don't want to tell you how to run your blog, however suppose you added a headline to possibly grab
people's attention? I mean Add new comment | ChessVibes is a little vanilla.
You should look at Yahoo's home page and watch how they create post headlines to
get viewers to open the links. You might add a video or a related pic or two to grab readers interested about what
you've written. Just my opinion, it could bring
your website a little livelier.

ebutaljib's picture

And what exactly did Topalov do to you, that you wouldn't play with him?

The Golden Knight's picture

Another tournament that tells me that the battle for the world champion-title without Magnus is like playing WC in football without Brazil...

Mac's picture

MC didnt want to play - His choice. .. are you saying all others should just pack their bags and go home.. ?! Who ever fights and wins will win the championship when the time comes.

ronny's picture

carlsen is neither no 1 nor the world chess champion

Chess Fan's picture

Magnus, for all his talent, is still to prove himself one-to-one with the real fellow-greats like Kramnik, Aronian, and the World Champion himself. In fact, he has a negative score against Anand and Kramnik in recent years in tournaments, if I remember right.

Let us not make the WC all about Magnus Carlsen until he wins the World Championship. It would not be fair to the other serious World Championship contenders, especially Aronian, who on paper has the best one-to-one record in the last few years against the World Champion.

Chess Fan

gg's picture

In Carlsen's case what matters most is that he is one of the greatest chess players of our time, just the fact that he has been good enough to compete with players like Anand and Kramnik in their peaks while still being a teenager himself says enough about what a player he is. Aronian is almost 10 years older and hasn't "proved himself one-to-one with fellow-greats" either, so both he and Carlsen have lots of time for that.

Chess Fan's picture

Again, this is all speculation.

As I said, Aronian in the near future and Magnus after that may have the best chance on paper to take Anand's crown next (whenever it happens), but let us not forget Kramnik or even Karjakin or Grischuk. Until, it happens, we never really know.

But I do agree that Magnus, like Aronian, is one of the greatest of our time, and perhaps of all time. As a "Chess Fan" I am in awe of their games.

I as a Anand's fan (of his chess, his humility, and what he does for the general people both in India and other parts of the world) hope he keeps winning until chooses to retire on his terms in about 5 years or so. Hope his games, continues to be World Champion like.

Chess Fan

Chess Fan's picture

Wrong anology. Brazil has won the World soccer championship record number of times. Till Magnus wins a single world championship (and he will in the future in all probabilities if he actually plays one), it is all good speculation.

Besides comparing Chess (a mental/intellectual/psychological warfare game) with Soccer is not exactly the right idea, the obsession with soccer in Europe and the rest of the world not withstanding.

Soccer may be the gold standard for you people, but here in the States we consider it a gentle game for boys wearing shorts much tamer compared to the hard hitting real mans game - football. So, please do not annoy us Americans with your boys game for all chess analogies. We understand that it the best game we have got, but we have got baseball, basketball, and of course, the great football. When talking chess, give valid points in chess, Don't compare and bring in idiotic points from Soccer or even Tennis.

Chess Fan

ebutaljib's picture

Of course - americans are right and the whole world is wrong.

TMM's picture

It would be nice if either Kramnik or Topalov finally showed matureness by offering a handshake. It's common practice in for example football for the referee to let two fighting players come to him and make them shake hands. Apparently we need such referees in chess too...

Brian Wall's picture


dmcw's picture


jazzkoo's picture

No. Rapid games never do. Or blindfold games. But they must count for something! :-)

lefier's picture

Yes, they count for money... a lot, actually

Hortensius's picture

The anti-hanshake-gambit gambit...

Septimus's picture

Do these games count towards an official rating?

ebutaljib's picture

Same dumb questions everytime.

When did rapid and blindfold games counted for FIDE rating?

ed's picture

Hi Peter:

Out of a sudden I can no longer watch the videos from Chessvibes. I keep getting this message that Quicktime needs a certain componement. The message directs me to a Quicktime components page at but there are a number of third parties components there and I have no idea which one is missing for Chessvibes video to work again in my computer. I have tried Chessvibes in another computer and the same thing happened. Any idea what is it that I need to do? I have been a regular at your site for years and this has never happened before. Thanks and regards,


Peter Doggers's picture

Hm... That must be a blip issue; we'll let them know about this. For now, try watching them here.

ronny's picture

Anand is consistently winning against carlsen in normal time controls.
I wonder if he lost a couple of games against carlsen .
In that case i believe carlsen would have been declared the world champion .

gg's picture

Have you declared Aronian World Champion yet? In three years Anand has won twice against Carlsen, by the way.

indian's picture

I am a chess beginner. would like to know is there any book by Garry Kasparov for beginners?


Ron's picture

Topalov was never World Champion, so did he become a "Former" one??

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