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.


Game viewer

Game viewer by ChessTempo


Problems watching? Try here.

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.


SXL's picture

This is explained with frequency.

They see a blank board.
To the right of the board, they see the last ply (that is, half-move).

They move using a mouse, by clicing a start-square and a destination square.

If the move is legal, the ply changes to the move they just made. d2-d4, for instance.

If the move is illegal (they don't have a piece there, are in check, can't move the piece, etc), then they are told the move is illegal.

They have three tries to make a legal moves. If they don't, they forfeit.

ronny's picture

aronian does have few wins against anand but that let us see how he faces
kramnik and topalov in candidates

gg's picture

Anything can happen in those four game knockouts, I wouldn't be surprised if Grischuk beats Aronian in a tiebreak.

ronny's picture

yes , any could win against aronian in tie break , it is totally chance !

Chess Fan's picture

Good point.

We should not be surprised if he does very well too.. Then he would have truly earned his path to the World Championship. And I cannot think of a more worthy challenger to the World Championship right now, much more even than Magnus (his hype not withstanding).

jakelegourmet's picture

I think It's either Aronian or Carlsen who will win. I put my money on Carlsen

Thomas's picture

I would put lots of money against Carlsen - not because I wouldn't believe in his chances, but I know that he doesn't even participate ...

Chess Fan's picture

And I will put on money on Aronian or Kramnik,

Zeblakob's picture

I think catwoman can beat both of them.

Chess Fan's picture

OK, Chessgirl. Enough of you and )your feminism ;-)

OK, I agree, Ruslan Ponoromariov is the worthy World Champion.

(Just kidding Zeblakob. I am taking a good natured dig at chessgirl).

Zeblakob's picture

hehehe, I am a man with cojones, :)

Peter's picture

I think its importartant to think about that Blitz and Rapid and Blindfold are not classical chess.I think the real ability and fair option to prove whos is best in chess is in CLASSICAL.The player have moore time to think about how to move the chess pices.In blitz and blindfold and rapid there are so stressfull situation and limited time so you can do a lot of misstakes.Yes Aronian semed to be a better player then Anand but don forget that Fischer was minus against Spasskij before the match 1972

Chess Fan's picture

Anand was minus -1 or -2 I think against both Kramnik and Topolov before they played.

But both Magnus and especially Aronian show maturity in not shooting off their mouth against the World Champion and that means that Aronian is reserving his talking for the board (just like Anand), which makes it most dangerous for Anand.

Pedro Pinto's picture

After the Ks will we have the As?

(karpov, kasparov, kramnik) (Anand, Aronian)

Septimus's picture

You forgot Arlsen. ;]

Chess Fan's picture

Ha Ha, that is funny, a joke that even Arlsen would appreciate!

Excalibur's picture

Exactly,the comments here are way to reactionary.If Kramnik wins the candidates all of a sudden the lot here would consider him the best again.

gg's picture

Kasimjanov and Khalifman won knockouts without anyone considering them the best player in the world. Winning a knockout proves nothing. Gelfand, Kamsky, Radjabov, Grischuk or Mamedyarov could win the Candidates but they wouldn't be better players than Aronian and Carlsen because of that. Winning a rapid/blindfold event proves even less, but the truth is that this isn't the only tournament Carlsen and Aronian are leading, and the same players are the best in all formats. Anand, Kramnik, Carlsen and Aronian have been top 5 in blitz, rapid, blindfold and classical for many years, and when they play well in one format that play well in all formats.

ronny's picture

better player would win more and loose less .
Also play at crucial juncture matters.
a better player may not be motivated all the time.

anand won the world title which was very imp for him and is probably the most valued chess title.
he stated he wants to regain word no 1 rating which he has done now.
he has been dominating carlsen off late and has not played too much with aronian.

RealityCheck's picture

Had Khalifman, Ponomariov, or Kasimdzhanov built a track record like Anand's after their Knock-Out WC victory their credibility (title) would be much more respected.

It's pretty difficult (real stupid) to right off Anand's Knock-Out WC victory. Although some folks tried but history proved them wrong!

Chess Fan's picture

Yes, that is what I mean.

People here seem more emotional and whimsical.

One major tournament win by Ruslan or Topolov is enough to make the people here scream how Anand is not the worthy world Champion. Hiraku's win, though commendable, was one such example. Did people not say he was the favorite before this tournament? Agreed that he is very very good in rapid. But so ae the others like Anand, Magnus, and Aronian.

Aronian and Magnus,mthough, have earned their bragging rights though with their performances and their CONSISTENCY, I agree.

Paul V's picture

A lot of opinions here on who dominates chess at the current moment.
Anand, Aronian or Carlsen?

As no one is consistently winning tournaments or ranking clear first for a longer time period on the rating lists, I would conclude that there is no clear leader.

The las person to dominate chess was Kasparov.

Chess Fan's picture

Yes, I agree.

But it would also be a speculation if we consider how he would have performed (whether he would have dominated like he did) with the current competition.
He still might, who knows.

gg's picture

"no one is consistently winning tournaments"

Carlsen has won both Nanjing and London the last years, Wijk and Bazna 2010, etc.

ronny's picture

yeah , that is why he is not the world no 1

S2's picture

In between he finished behind Kramnik and Anand at Bilbao and behind Nakamura and others at Tata. I won't speak of his performance at the Olympiads or how he won on tiebreaks of Anand at London, but it matters.

As for the question Anand, Aronian or Carlsen (way too limited)-at London MC and Anand were equal, at Bilbao and Tata Anand was ahead and at Nanjing Carlsen was ahead. At Tata Aronian finished ahead of Carlsen but they have not participated in the same tournaments that much.
Anand and Aronian played less tournaments but not less succesful, and are battling for the crown as well.

Chess Fan's picture

Yes, but he has not YET won the official World Championship title like Kasparov did. Don't forget that. He might be good enough to do it right now in the opinion of many here, BUT HE HAS YET TO DO IT in reality. And that matters more than any potential or speculation than all "us experts" here!

Fireblade's picture

A lot was said about Kramnik being the strongest before the Bonn match and Anand had him on the ropes. No doubt Kramnik is still one of the strongest, if not the strongest at the moment.
A lot is being said about Aronian and i am glad thats the case. I wish he is the challenger and then he will finally be in Vishy's thats a match worth watching.Its got everything that a match needs....a worthy challenger who is hungry and teasing the Champ and a Champ who is waiting to even things out !

Anand-Kramnik 2012 would be still exciting but not as much as Anand-Aronian.
Anand-Topalov would be painfully one sided imho and wouldnt generate as much interest as the above two.
So lets all hope for Anand-Aronian 2012 !

Chess Fan's picture

Very well said. I couldn't have said it better.

bob's picture

Why is the Chessbase report almost the same as the chessvibes one?

SXL's picture

It's a test.

Zeblakob's picture

heheheh, this forum is funny. When I am in a bad mood, I come here and read the comments.

serge's picture

Do you think Spiderman can beat Batman?

Peter's picture

Yes i agree a good player also do good result in blitz and rapid and blindfold.But the real capacity of a chess player is in classical chess.And match play whit at least 16 matches will tell us who is best.Dont forget that Kramnik have pluscore against Aronian and seemed to be a better player if we compere them against each other.But Aronian do better result overall than Kramnik in tournaments etc...I dont think there a player in the word today who dominate the chess like Fischer Karpov and Kasparov did when they were on top.Karpov have won moore tornament than any else in chess history.Who can coopie Fischers 6-0, 6-0, 6 1/2-2 1 /2 before he played WC-Final.And Kasparov who was number one on ranking list for 20 years.

Pedro Pinto's picture

did you get here in a time machine???

Chess Fan's picture

Please do not forget the caliber of each player participating now (Kramnik who beat Kasparov 2-0 is sometimes at the bottom of the table!) and the technology and the database available to even the average GM.

Times have changed and so has the competition. The top women GMs now are probably as good as some/many of the male competitors of that time. This can be seen from the elo ratings (though they do not say the whole story, I agree).

Peter's picture

I have heard through a Chessjournalist that the elo raiting have changed so to get raiting points is easier then it was under Fischers time.He got 2785 but today that will be much higher in ELO.So ELO have got some deflation.I cant precisly tell whats the differens who the calculate ELO in Fischers time and nowdays.And the Chessdatabase sometimes help players to be better than they have been whithout computer.I dont think chessplayers are stronger nowdays then they were under Fischers or Laskers time its the teqniq who has developed.

chessfan006's picture

If Anand playes with Aronian seriously ,i.e. in a WC, Anand will beat him

Chess Fan's picture

This will be proved in 2012.

Juan Ramón Herrera Arteaga's picture

Thank you very much Mr. Korchnoi. Your advises about Chess are very clever, useful and invaluable. Good health and luck in your upcoming chess tournaments.

Juan Ramón (Spain)

Manish's picture

Here's my take :

All these years I have been watching Anand's games , there is one thing that stands out. when he is motivated he does really well. Mexico 2007 , Bonn 2008, Sofia 2010 all show that very well. Tournaments?? well he is one of the the most successful tournament player in the history of the game (slightly behind karpov I reckon) . My feel is he is not motivated enough to do that well in tournaments. Given that he has had to play WC 3 times in last 4 years (quiet frequent comapred to past WChampionships) and defend sucesfuly , he tends to hide prepration. He is the only player ever to win Wchampionship in all possible formats. 6 Oscars (Only behind Karpov and Kasparov). So I think that he will defend his title if the challenger is Aronian. And if Kramnik or Topalov challenge him again , he will lose it. Its all about Motivation for such a chess giant.


Latest articles