Reports | March 21, 2011 2:33

Aronian remains half a point ahead of Carlsen in Monaco

Aronian remains half a point ahead of Carlsen in MonacoJust like round 6, the 8th round of the 2011 Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Monaco saw six draws in the blindfold section and six wins in the rapid. Going into the second rest day, Levon Aronian remains half a point ahead of Magnus Carlsen. After losing 1.5-0.5 today Vladimir Kramnik is now last in the overall standings.

Levon Aronian | Photo: Fred Lucas

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.

Sunday, March 20, Round 8
14.30 Blindfold Grischuk ½-½ Nakamura Anand ½-½ Aronian Gelfand ½-½ Ivanchuk
16.00 Kramnik ½-½ Gashimov Karjakin ½-½ Giri Topalov ½-½ Carlsen
17.45 Rapid Nakamura 1-0 Grischuk Aronian 1-0 Anand Ivanchuk 1-0 Gelfand
19.15 Gashimov 1-0 Kramnik Giri 1-0 Karjakin Carlsen 1-0 Topalov

Aronian and Carlsen way ahead of the pack

Round 8 report courtesy of the official website

After eight rounds Levon Aronian remains the proud leader at the Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament. The Armenian GM defeated World Champion Vishy Anand 1½-½. With three rounds to go Magnus Carlsen seems to be his only remaining challenger. The Norwegian GM follows at half-a-point’s distance after defeating Veselin Topalov 1½-½. In third place Vishy Anand and Vasily Ivanchuk are already three points behind. Aronian defended his lead in the blindfold competition. In the rapid competition Carlsen calls the shots, one point ahead of Aronian.
The € 1,000 Game of the Day Prize was awarded to Levon Aronian for his rapid win over Vishy Anand.

The blindfold game between Alexander Grischuk and Hikaru Nakamura was a protracted fight with chances for both sides. The Russian grandmaster got a pleasant game against the Dutch Defence of his American colleague, but when he allowed Black to transfer a rook to c4, the initiative changed hands. But when Nakamura allowed White to start an attack on the kingside with 41.g5 and 42.h4 the tables were turned again. Grischuk felt he was winning, but couldn’t substantiate his hunch with moves. He had to cease his efforts after 67 moves when a threefold repetition forced the draw.

The rapid game was a clash between two King’s Indian titans, this time with Grischuk behind the black pieces. Things were normal until Nakamura frantically started moving around his king’s knight, which might have been clever in a blindfold game, but didn’t bring him much with both players having sight of the board. Black got the upper hand, but as has been their habit in most of their encounters they both got in terrible time-trouble. This time Nakamura was on the right side. Grischuk made the last mistake when on the 51st move he didn’t take on a7. Ten moves on he could resign.


The blindfold game between Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian was a rather short affair. In a d3-Ruy Lopez the World Champion was surprised by the manoeuvre 11…Nb8 instead of the developing method …Ne7 and …Ng6 which is often played in this type of position. Afterwards Anand was unhappy about 12.Bc4, which he called a mistake. He had been looking at 12.Qb3, but wasn’t too impressed by 12…c6 13.Bc4 d5 14.exd5 b5, which in hindsight was quite promising for White, as both players agreed. After Anand had missed this chance the white initiative quickly fizzled out and led to a draw in 17 moves.

In the rapid game Aronian defeated Anand in impressive manner. After the game the Armenian grandmaster explained that the variation starting with 7.dxc5 was very special to him as he used it in a crucial last-round game at the World Juniors in 2001 against Yakovenko. He vaguely remembered that a strong player had also used it and Anand kindly informed him that this had be him against Polugaevsky at the first Amber tournament in Roquebrune in 1992! In today’s game White had a nice advantage after 22.h3 due to the weakness of b7. Black’s 26th move was not the best, he should have played 26…Ne4, although White retains an edge. Now things went awry for Anand and after 28.Qxb4 Aronian already called the position ‘technical’. There were still more than 30 moves to follow, but indeed the kibitzing GMs never had any doubts about the outcome.


The blindfold game between Boris Gelfand and Vasily Ivanchuk lasted almost two hours. From the opening the Ukrainian grandmaster obtained a favourable position, but the game turned around when in his calculations he missed 30.Ne7+ and lost an exchange. Still, Ivanchuk kept compensation and didn’t really get in danger. The players ended up in a rook versus bishop ending, which is a theoretical draw, but the bishop side has to be cautious. Which he was and after 89 moves Ivanchuk saved the draw.

In the rapid game Ivanchuk introduced a novelty, 17.Rc1. In a game Gashimov-Wang Yue 17.Nd2 was played. Ivanchuk’s set-up worked out well and after 23.Qf3 he obtained a position containing various tactical threats that was dangerous for Black. Ivanchuk could have crowned his efforts with 29.Qxb7. Instead he let Gelfand back into the game with 29.Qh7. But Black’s relief was short-lived as with 31…Qa1+ he got himself in trouble again (31…Qc1+ 32.Kg2 Qc6+ 33.Kh3 Qe8 would have forced a draw). Now there was no way back anymore and a couple of moves later Gelfand resigned.


The blindfold game between Vladimir Kramnik and Vugar Gashimov was a further sign that the Russian grandmaster is struggling with his form. In the opening he repeated a line that Gashimov(!) played against Topalov in Nanjing last year, but his 9.Bb5 was considerably weaker than 9.Bg5 as the Azeri GM played on that occasion. Kramnik was surprised by Gashimov’s 14…a5 and his 22nd move was a clear mistake (he should have played 22.bxa5). After 25…Rxd3 is was clear that White was losing. However, Gashimov also had his weak moment. With 39…Rc3 40.Ra5 c3 he could have kept his winning advantage, his 39…Ra1 allowed 40.Rf5 and White saved the draw.

In the rapid game Gashimov followed a plan, involving Nd2, h3 and g4, that has been played several times by Azerbaijani grandmaster Rauf Mamedov. Gashimov not only criticized Black’s 8th move, but also his 13th and 15th move (better were 13…Be7 and 15…h5). After 19 moves Black was ‘just losing’ and in Gashimov’s words ‘the rest was easy’.


Anish Giri was slightly disappointed that his blindfold game against Sergey Karjakin ended in a draw. He had hoped for more, although he was the first to stress that objectively speaking there were not too many objective reasons for his expectations. In the opening he was satisfied about his moves 15…Ne5 and 16…Qc6 and he believed that White should have looked for equality with 17.Bd4. Instead, Karjakin sacrificed a pawn. This was a risky decision, but he kept good drawing chances and secured the draw without too much effort.

In the rapid game the players repeated the game Kramnik-Karjakin from this tournament. On move 15 Karjakin improved with 15…c5. The position that arose led to heated discussions after the game when Giri’s optimism about his chances was heavily undermined by an enthusiastic group of some of the world’s leading grandmasters. Having listened to their opinions he concluded that in fact White has nothing at all and that Black’s perspectives are better. However, all this didn’t bring Karjakin nothing when he went seriously wrong with 25…g5. This optimistic push was rudely refuted by 26.e4. Now Giri was winning and grabbing his chance he finished the game in fine style.


The blindfold game between Veselin Topalov and Magnus Carlsen, a Ruy Lopez, sped to a draw when the Bulgarian grandmaster missed Black’s 19…Bxe4. The freeing move led to a number of exchanges and when the vacuum cleaning was done, there was not real reason for any side to play on.

In the rapid game Carlsen opted to counter Topalov’s Sicilian with the Grand Prix Attack. Black got into trouble as early as move 10 when 10…f5 allowed ‘the old trick Nd5’ which gave White very good play. After 17.Ra3 the position was ‘really horrible for Black’. Carlsen could play for the gallery, which he did with 19.Rg5, where he might have played it safe with 19.c4. The rest was silence. With pointed moves White ripped apart the black position and after 29 moves the point was his.


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Amber Tournament 2011 | Blindfold | Round 8 Standings

Amber Tournament 2011 | Rapid | Round 8 Standings

Amber Tournament 2011 | Combined | Round 8 Standings

Next round

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


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.


gg's picture

I don't care that this isn't classical chess and that they haven't played any title matches, Aronian and Carlsen are the two best players in the world, that's just the way it is.

S2's picture

They are young and can perform at full strength consistently. Old timers like Anand and Kramnik still excell when it matters though.

RealityCheck's picture

@S2 "Old timers like Anand and Kramnik still excell when it matters though."

Anand, by crushing Carlsen in their blindfold game today, just proved your theory correct. My bet is still on Anand. Old people power !!

Chess Fan's picture

What is wrong with you people?

How is Anand old? He is just 41 and this is an intellectual game. It is surprising that his rapid chess reflexes are still world-class (top 3 in the world), he is able to play blind-fold so well, but classical chess? - 41 is still young.

Sometimes I wonder whether people here know a "stih" about chess, but that is just my disappointment. I know most of you do, and your postings are not always objective.

Let us judge a person's chess age by the game he plays. In any case, I absolutely think 40s is not old especially for chess.

RealityCheck's picture

Sad to say, but anyone over forty is considered old these days. Just listen to your kids, nieces, nephews, young people in general. I dont't understand it. I thought a hundred years old was old. But not anymore.

S2's picture

At 40 one has, generally speaking, less energy. Is that so hard to grasp?

gg's picture

So when it matters is in Amber Blindfold when Anand wins a game but in Kramnik's case this doesn't seem to be when it matters :) Nice win and unusual to see Carlsen blunder away the draw in the endgame, but worse mistakes have been made in this blindfold event and not much to say except well done Anand.

ablos's picture

gg, i dont care about your comments

Chess Fan's picture

gg sometimes stands for gREATEST gAS :-)

ronny's picture

1> You want to base your judgement on one rapid tournament which is not even over yet?
2> If aronian / carlsen are best , why are they not ahead of anand in ratings?
3> In a single tournament luck can be decisive factor . Aronian has won 3 games as he was plain lucky.

Anand is the world no 1 and the world champion.

mathri's picture

gg, carlsen and aronian are one of the best but not the best.

Karmnik, Anand, topalov and ivanchuk are no less than them, even karjakin.

Waiting for the candidate matches. i have a gut feeling that toplov still has some tricks left which he can use in cndidate matches

gg's picture

Carlsen is no better than Topalov and Karjakin? I disagree with you about that one, Kramnik and Ivanchuk as well. Anand is around the same level as Aronian and Carlsen, but no one else is, as I see it.

Saji Soman's picture

If Anand wants a win against Carlsen or Aronian or Kramnik or Topolov or any standard player, I am sure he will win. No doubt about that.

gg's picture

It isn't only this tournament, of course, it's just another sign that the future is theirs. Anand is a great player but it's more than three years since he won a tournament, and as much as I admire the World Champion, many other players are good enough to barely squeeze past Topalov in a match. I don't even want to think about how a match between Carlsen and Topalov would look, it wouldn't be much of a contest. Since 2009 Carlsen has 4-0 in classical and some more wins without losses in other formats. To me Anand is #3 behind Carlsen and Aronian, I'd rank Karjakin as #4 and then maybe Ivanchuk. Others obviously disagree and see Anand as the best player in the world at the moment, but I don't think he's better than Aronian and Carlsen.

The Golden Knight's picture

I think Carlsen is the best chessplayer in the world, because:
- he has won more tournaments than any other super-GM the last years
- he has been nr. 1 on the FIDE-rankings
- he is young
- he is good in everyting (blitz, rapid, bf, classic)
Some people here think that the WC-cycle is the only great thing to win. I disagree. The world champion is good in marathon-chess. Carlsen is best in the rest!

I really respect Anand, but he is twice as old as Carlsen, and he never win tournaments anymore, and he always gets away with a draw...

S2's picture

He may not win tournaments but in the last series of tournaments where both participated he ended up as high or above Carlsen:

Last tree: Bilbao (above) London (equal) Tata( above).

S2's picture


CAL|Daniel's picture

Chucky is the man. from -4 to +1 including 2-0 over Carlsen 1.5 over Anand, Grischuk and Gelfand! Won three game of the day prizes in a row... and certainly has contention for a 4th!

The Golden Knight's picture

I totally agree with gg. Aronian and Carlsen are alone on the top. Then comes Anand. Then Naka and the East European-bunch down to 10th place on the liverating. Forget the rest.

ronny's picture

If they are alone at the top let the top the live ratings / win the world champion ship.
Carlsen cannot be champion as he has chicked out....
Aronian is playing in candidates . Their his true strength will be known....

gg's picture

The true strength of the players is showed by their results taken together, not by one event like the Candidates, with tiny matches played one after another and rapid/blitz tiebreaks.

ronny's picture

based on that anand has pefromed better than aronian any day...
his ratings are consistently higher.

The Golden Knight's picture

If Chucky is the man, why is he so many points behind Aronian and Carlsen???

Yasif's picture

Anand, Kramnik and Topalov have their task cut out with the younger generation surging ahead. Anand is Aronian's bunny. If Aronian happens to meet Anand in 2012 it will be painful to see.We may probably witness the most one sided match since Short Kasparov.

mathri's picture

i pity u for ur short sightedness, basing ur comments on a few rapid n blindfold games

Saji Soman's picture

Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeee fueeeeeeeeeeee

Chess Fan's picture

I have said it before and I say it again now:
Anand will win the 2012 World Championship in style against anyone, including Aronian. Though it would be closest against Aronian, with Magnus, Anand would "Kramnik" him. Unfortunately for us Chess Fans, Magnus has denied us his contest both against Aronian (in the candidates) and a potential match against World Champion Anand.

Anything has happen in a candidates, but based on strength and current record, I expect Aronian to qualify and then he would lose against Anand in 2012. I know this assertion could be unpopular, but please remember and check my instinct after the 2012 world championship match.

Last but not the least, before getting carried away by immediate results of one-game blindfolds and rapid games, like the office of presidency, let us hold the tradition of the World Chess Championship as the gold standard. Whoever shows the potential (how much ever persuasive the arguments of the records can be), let them first beat the World Champion in a World Champion title match. Then they can win our respect as the World Championship.

This is not soccer, or tennis or hockey or basketball. This has been the time honored tradition in chess, and then the "World Champion" can win our ultimate respect. Till then everything else is speculation, in my opinion.

RealityCheck's picture

World Champion(ship) based on the Gold Standard. Like that!!

Joe's picture

First 6 draws, then 6 white wins. Curious.

Celso's picture

Anand vs Aronian a draw? There is a better name for that!

RuralRob's picture

Vlad the Impaled...

Excalibur's picture

And do some of you guys even follow chess or just yap your mouth? The shortest match since Kasparov? Give me a break.

Chess Fan's picture

I think, either that or people just get carried with personalities and give an emotional response rather than an objective response based purely on facts.

Anand might not have "won" a championship last 3 years, but he has been second I think in almost all the tournaments that he has participated, consistently. He has just missed winning by superlative performances of Aronian, Magnus, and on occasions by others like Hiraku Nakamura. But if you see really great players like Kramnik, Karjakin, and on one or more occasion, even Magnus crash and burn, you would realize how good all these grandmasters are, and how difficult it is to consistently almost win these tournaments as Anand has been without displaying all of his preparation or having the motivation to win at all costs, like Magnus has to after skipping the candidates.

Excalibur's picture

I dont agree that Carlsen is stronger than Anand is.Just take a look their head to head in classical games.Carlsen is not yet stronger.Aronian might claim to be the strongest and might be the only player able to defeat Vishy in a match.

Chess Fan's picture

There is some truth to what you are saying here.

Thomas's picture

Apparently you aren't following chess that closely, including some of the discussions here on Amber: There will be a candidates event in May ... .

mathri's picture

I think he was asking, which next elite tounament anand will be part off.
i also want to know

RealityCheck's picture

Anand has another, the 3rd, world championship match coming up next year.

Anand, who's won Amber 4 or 5 times, TATA 5 or 6 times, Mainz Rapid 11 or 12 times, and tops all rating lists now, probably finds it hard getting motivated for anything but a head to head multi-million-euro wc match.

Sad that some folks miss this point when throwing the words "best" or "greatest" around these forums.

I'm greatful that he even plays these side shows!

Chess Fan's picture

Very nicely communicated Mr. RealityCheck,

And this is not taking anything away from the incredible performances of Aronian and Magnus. And a Chess Fan, I am a great fan of them too.

But as long as Anand is the World Chess Champion (which should not be in question now), I want him to be respected just like any other, well World Champion!!, that he has earned and deserves.

Mauricio Valdés's picture

Kramnik, noooooooooooo!
Has the Iceman melted for good?
Vlad, come on!
Do your thing!

Chess Fan's picture

Kramnik has surprised me too. I think he needs to be watched in the candidates against Aronian though. That would be a great test for the both of them, currently (short matches or not).

I also note and am glad that both Topolov and Dalinov HAVE SHUT ALL THEIR HOLES UP and Topolov is just trying to play chess. No smart ass shooting of their mouth and insulting the World Champion's wife.

Their failures have taken care of it.

Ben's picture

What's the next elite event? Are there any where several of the top 10 are playing in the next two months?

Septimus's picture

Looks like Aronian has Anand's number. :)

Chess Fan's picture

Looks like it.

Either that or he is currently better than Anand that he has a chance to prove in 2012. I am 100% with Anand in 2012 though.

Like everyone else, I am a fan of Aronian's play and consistency, and to a slightly lesser extent, of Magnus.

Marcel's picture

The discussion here is the same as in my younger years (8-10) who was the best soccer player. Soooo childish!

Pedro Pinto's picture


ed's picture

Ladies and gentlemen, where are witnessing the changing of the guard. It has happened before, is happining again right before our eyes and will continue to happen for many more generations. Chess is alive and well despite the power of mighty computer programs and databases, long live the Royal game!

hanseman's picture

Some questions about the blindfold games:

1. Do the players see the previous moves on their laptop/scoresheet?
2. How do they excecute moves: by dragging from quare to square or notating the move? And what happens when they drag a piece from a square where there is not really a piece?

Daaim Shabazz's picture

No scoresheet.

hanseman's picture

and do you know how they move?


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