Reports | March 24, 2011 22:29

Aronian wins 20th and last Amber

Aronian wins 20th AmberLevon Aronian won the 20th and last Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament. In the blindfold session of the last round, he drew against Sergey Karjakin while his main rival Magnus Carlsen lost to Boris Gelfand. This decided everything: Aronian also became the winner of the Blindfold tournament and Carlsen finished first in the Rapid.

General info

The 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament took place at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco, from March 11 to 25, 2011. The tournament was organized by the Association Max Euwe of chess maecenas Joop van Oosterom, which is based in Monaco. This 20th Amber tournament was the final edition of an event unparalleled in the history of chess. The total prize-fund was € 227,000. The rate of play was 25 minutes per game per player. With every move made in the blindfold games 20 seconds were added to the clock, with every move made in the rapid games 10 seconds were added. Full schedule here.

Thursday, March 24, Round 11
12.30 Blindfold Ivanchuk ½-½ Topalov Gashimov ½-½ Grischuk Giri 0-1 Anand
14.00 Carlsen 0-1 Gelfand Nakamura 0-1 Kramnik Aronian ½-½ Karjakin
15.45 Rapid Topalov 1-0 Ivanchuk Grischuk ½-½ Gashimov Anand 1-0 Giri
17.15 Gelfand 0-1 Carlsen Kramnik 0-1 Nakamura Karjakin ½-½ Aronian

Aronian claims third Amber victory in farewell edition

Round 11 report courtesy of the official website

Levon Aronian is the winner of the twentieth and final Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament. Following his earlier wins in 2008 and 2009 this is the third time the Armenian grandmaster claimed first prize. Aronian also won the blindfold competition. The rapid competition was won by Magnus Carlsen. The € 1,000 Game of the Day Prize was awarded to Boris Gelfand for his rapid win over Magnus Carlsen, which ended the Norwegian’s chances to fight for first place in the overall standings.

Aronian wins 20th Amber

The blindfold game between Vasily Ivanchuk and Veselin Topalov was a long up-and-down affair. In the opening Ivanchuk was at his creative best and outplayed his opponent to reach a winning position. But in the next phase he just as easily squandered his advantage and even ended up in a worse position. Now he had to suffer and it was only after a 97 moves that the suffering was over and he had saved the draw.

Topalov won the rapid game. Ivanchuk needed too much attention to defend his advanced pawn on c4, which gave the Bulgarian the opportunity to organize a kingside attack. When Ivanchuk allowed 39.Nxh5+ the game was soon over.


With 140 moves, the blindfold game between Vugar Gashimov and Alexander Grischuk was easily the longest of the entire tournament. It was a see-saw battle in which first Grischuk had the better chances and then Gashimov. For instance, the Azeri grandmaster could have decided the game easily with 47.Rf3. The game remained a comedy of errors and ultimately went into an endgame of rook and knight (Grischuk) versus rook on move 90. Grischuk tried for 50 moves and then the 50-moves rule finally out an end to the game.

In the blindfold game they tried to break the record of the longest game and were well on their way, when the tournament director, having consulted with the chief arbiter, stepped in. Because the evening program was seriously threatened he asked the players to continue in a separate room, so that the final session of the rapid competition could start as soon as possible in the playing room. Once Grischuk and Gashimov had moved there they made 10 more moves and after 139 moves the game was drawn


Anish Giri repeated an opening in his blindfold game against Vishy Anand that his second Loek van Wely had played against the same Anand in the 2006 Amber tournament! White deviated with 10.cxd4, where Van Wely had gone 10.Qxd4, and introduced his new idea one move later, 11.Kf1. An interesting battle developed in which White had space, but an awkward king (could he put it on h1, he would be fine) and Black wanted to develop counterplay on the queenside with …Rb8, …b5 etc. as soon as possible. Giri went astray with 20.Qc4 after which both players agreed he was essentially lost. White’s position quickly fell apart and after 27 moves, about to lose a rook, Giri resigned.

Anand also won the rapid game. The line he played against the Petroff he didn’t think to be very impressive, ‘but you have to play something’. Giri’s 17…b6 was clear mistake (the correct move was 17…Rc8) for exactly what happened in the game. White won the pawn on b6 and when Black missed his last chance to get substantial counterplay with 23…Rc8 (he exchanged rooks on a7) the young Dutchman was fighting a hopeless battle.


The blindfold game between Hikaru Nakamura and Vladimir Kramnik ended in a convincing win for the Russian former world champion. Nakamura’s opening was ‘not great’ in Kramnik’s words and White’s 7.h4 and 9.g4 were rather weakening than strengthening his position. The American drifted into an unpleasant ending that gradually got worse and worse. The decisive mistake was 26.Ne3 which allowed Black to strike with a simple but effective tactic. The win finally lifted Kramnik from the hated last place.

Thanks to a win in the rapid game Nakamura could end the tournament on a positive note. In a King’s Indian he managed to stage a devastating onslaught on the white king and cashed the point after 45 moves.


With a draw in his blindfold game against Sergey Karjakin, tournament leader Levon Aronian decided the fight for first place in his favour, as his last remaining rival, Magnus Carlsen lost his blindfold game to Boris Gelfand. After the opening Aronian was optimistic: ‘I thought it was all in my hands. I didn’t need Boris.’ After 26.Nc4 he felt he was close to winning, but he didn’t find the correct follow-up. In the endgame his advantage vanished, but soon he found out that the draw he reached was enough to clinch tournament victory.

Aronian felt that he also had had good winning chances in the rapid game, but again he had to settle for a draw. Obviously, he didn’t care too much, as tournament victory was already his.


Magnus Carlsen knew he had to win his blindfold game against Boris Gelfand to keep the pressure on Levon Aronian. Right from the first moves he made no secret of his intentions. White’s 8.Ncb5 was a speculative attempt, involving lots of tactics, but as the game developed it became clear that they worked for Black. After 14…Re4! Gelfand was already better and his advantage became decisive when Carlsen missed 22.Qd3 when it would still have been a game. The last fifteen moves or so the Norwegian would normally have spared himself, but given the tournament situation it was understandable that he drained the cup to the bottom.

In the rapid game Carlsen went for a Benkö Gambit. Gelfand surprised him with 11.f4, which the Norwegian had not seen before, but nevertheless Black got a fine game. Carlsen believed that White should not have sacrificed the exchange with 20.Rxe7 and instead should have played 20…Rad1. Now Black got great play and Carlsen felt that once he had this advantage there was little his opponent could have done to avoid his loss. With this win Carlsen increased his rapid score to 9½ from 11, the highest in Amber history.


Round 11 games

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Amber Tournament 2011 | Blindfold | Final Standings

Amber Tournament 2011 | Rapid | Final Standings

Amber Tournament 2011 | Combined | Final Standings


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.


rogge's picture

OK, I see. My apologies :)

JustMe's picture

You are apologized :)

JustMe's picture

Amber tournament is special because of its Blindfold competition.

Now lets look at Fast chess field. Magnus Carlsen, previous World Blitz chess champion, was defeated in 2010 by Levon Aronian - the reigning World Blitz Chess Champion.

Here is the list of World Blitz Chess Champions:

1 Mikhail Tal
2 Alexander Grischuk
3 Vassily Ivanchuk
4 Leinier Domínguez
5 Magnus Carlsen
6 Levon Aronian (current World Blitz Champion)

Considering Rapid chess, Levon Aronian achieved more than Carlsen in Rapid chess as well. Magnus Carlsen never won a World Rapid Championship. Aronian did.

Here is the list of World Rapid chess champions:

1 Garry Kasparov
2 Viswanathan Anand
3 Levon Aronian
4 Gata Kamsky

Levon Aronian is the only player who in the field of Fast chess was both Rapid and Blitz champion. So, juging by accomplishments, Aronian is on the top in Fast chess, as well as in Blindfold. While Anand is in the top of classical chess. It is just the reality.

gg's picture

Kamsky is the World Champion in rapid chess, but I think it belongs in the "World Champion is always the best"-discussion if he really is better in rapid chess than Carlsen, Anand and the other top players that didn't participate.

The same thing with calling Aronian better than Carlsen in rapid chess today because he two years ago won a four player event including Naiditsch and Nepomniachtchi, after beating the latter in the final.

JustMe's picture

If you can't tell if Aronian is the best in Fast chess, even though he was a rapid world champion and is the current blitz champion, than all the more so considering Carlsen. Aronian has more accomplished in fast chess, than Carlsen. So how can you say, that Carlsen is better ? Heh. :) I am not writing off other top players as well ... Carlsen is amazing, but he is not the best, no need for speculation. You can't tell if Aronian is the best, than even all the more so about Carlsen.

Chess Fan's picture

Anand lost the final deciding game of the World Blitz Championship against Chucky
from a winning position, making a human mistake of omission under pressure?

So, he was just close to being the World Blitz Championship himself.

Of course, the next year, he lost convincingly in the finals against Magnus. Again that was #2, close to being the World Blitz champion. In that tournament both Anand and Magnus lost a game to the Kosteniuk chick (saying this affectionately, using FIscher reference).

So, other than the fact that they players are really great and world's best and can win it all on any particular day, no other definite conclusions can be drawn with 100% certainty.

Of course, a World Championship match, with its stakes is probably closest to true strength, though even then psychology, intimidation, and luck is involved.

giovlinn's picture

This was officially not a real tournement but in 1970 Bobby Fischer was number 1 in a five minute blitz tournement, 22 games against the best of the world, 17 wins, three draws, one loss, 4 and a half point better ! than second placed Tal.
That made him the best blitz player of all time.

S2's picture

Carlsen fans complaining about the "luck factor" in chess. Oh the irony! ;)

ebutaljib's picture

Anand won RAPID section 9 times.

gladiatore grande's picture

NOT Carlsen, NOT Aronian, NOT Anand. I am the greatest player ever!

eugeniusjr's picture

Congratulations Aronian!

RealityCheck's picture


Eine Superleistung von Lev!

The Golden Knight's picture

Thumbs up if you think Magnus is the best player in the world! :)

Pedro Pinto's picture

how old are you? 8?

The Golden Knight's picture

Ehhh...probably the WRONG time to have this little poll...sorry.

(I didn´t mean to take the glory away from Aroninan. He is a great chessplayer. So is Anand, wich I have spoken to personally. A true gentleman).

JustMe's picture

Don't worry, you couldn't take a glory away from Aronian even if you wanted.

ronny's picture

It is funny to see a few of carlsen's fans to be pleading litterally that he be considered the best.

What is the need for all this. Become the world champ and settle the debate.

aronian has a clear chance , but carlsen? he chickned out..

ablos's picture

Carlsen lost three in the blindfold and one in rapid, still indicative he is not deserving of being number one player. He just won major tournaments because of football scoring system. Just being objective about this.

eh's picture

You don't know what you're talking about, do you?

Nobody has won more major tournaments than Carlsen the last couple of years, nobody comes even close: He has won Corus, Amber, the London Classic twice and Pearl Spring twice. Plus King's Tournament and the Rapid WC.

As for London 2010, the scoring system was known to the players beforehand, and Carlsen played accordingly.

eh's picture

Sorry, I meant Blitz WC, not Rapid WC.

By the way, a deserved win for Aronian this time. A fantastic chessplayer and a likeable man.

misha's picture

anand was busy saving his title , as soon as he was done , he came back and got the world no 1 spot!

JustMe's picture

If Magnus was so fantastic, than he would be far away with his rating from Aronian and Anand. But reality shows otherwise, those three players are very close to each other on rating. I don't know about tournaments, but out of last 4 Amber tournaments, 3 of them won (sole lead) Levon Aronian. No way you can say Magnus better than Aronian or Anand.

eh's picture

They're all fantastic players. I don't understand why so many who call themselves chess fans feel this need to belittle one player or the other. They're brilliant chess minds and should be admired, all three of them.

As for Carlsen's rating, he had a catastrophic Olympiad last autumn where he obviously didn't feel well and lost 15-20 rating points in two weeks, dropping from 2826 points. If it hadn't been for that tournament, he would still be far above the others on the rating list.

JustMe's picture

"If it hadn’t been for that tournament, he would still be far above the others on the rating list." - ohhh please..lets not go there, if it hadn't been, if that hadn't been, obviously didn't feel well, obviously feel well, please..this is so pathetic. You can use such silly arguments for ANY player in ANY game in ANY tournament. It is just disgusting, honestly.

eh's picture

Cool down ... I was just trying to explain why Carlsen isn't (quoting:) "far away with his rating from Aronian and Anand" despite the fact that he has won many more major tournaments than the others the last two years.

JustMe's picture

Yeah, and I was just trying to explain why such explanation (or excuses) are deceitful and unacceptable. Elo raiting shows accomplishments of players in general.

Thomas's picture

What would Ivanchuk's rating be if his bad events didn't count?? Admittedly, Chucky is "sick" or "not feeling well" more often than Carlsen (on average, in every second or third event he's playing?) ... .

eh's picture

You don't get it ... it was an explanation, not an excuse ... Ablos here obviously didn't believe that Carlsen could have won all the tournaments I mentioned, since he wasn't far above the others on the rating list ... So I EXPLAINED how it was that he could win these tournaments and at the same time not top the rating ...

Ablos also argued that Carlsen only won tournaments with the football scoring system, which is absolutely bullshit and shows that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Leif H. Pettersen's picture

The king Magnus deserves to be considered the best chessplayer, in spite of his young age.

JustMe's picture

Maybe for you, but not for me, and chess community in general. Vishy Anand today is clearly the best, than comes Aronian, than Carlsen. For now.

misha's picture

well said ....

Sander's picture

Speak for yourself!

Alberto's picture

Great Aronian. One question: Does these games are considerede on the FIDE Ratings?

Pablo's picture

No, sir.

ebutaljib's picture


biggy, delft's picture

Congratulations to Levon!


Excalibur's picture

Congratulations Levon.Definitely the most 'resourceful' chess player in the world.

Celso's picture

I know, I know...but blindfold?? ...come on ...who cares??
Carsen is the winner!! Congratulations!

JustMe's picture

Get over it! Aronian is the WINNER! ARONIAN!! LEVON ARONIAN is the WINNER! Not Magnus Carlsen, but LEVON AROOOONIAN!! Period. :)

Sander's picture

Tell that to the guy who hands out the checks....the biggest one goes to Levon not Magnus....

misha's picture

well said ....
magnus fans should create a delegation and put their case to amber orgnizers.

V's picture

Levon is Great! He really rulezzzzzz! Future Champion! Congrats!

Celso's picture

Blindfold, Blind Football, Blind tennis..etc.. anyone can win! It does NOT show the best one!
Rapid chess, on contrary, DOES!
Again, congratulations Carlsen!

JustMe's picture

What an absurd! Blind football ? lol. You have problems with reasoning. Chess is a game, where analytic abilities of your brain are at the first place. The one who wins blindfold simply shows how immense and superior one's thinking abilities are. That is why Aronian is simply the best!

P.S. not mentioning his only 1 defeat throughout the whole tournament in contrast with 4 defeats of Carlsen.

Levon Aronian - the Winner!

The Golden Knight's picture

I agree. Blindfold is more a game of luck. Rapid is more "real" chess. Magnus is the best!

Krzysztof's picture

I'm also very very impressed by stellar Magnus Carlsen rapid performance. But let's not treat this tournament as rapid chess tournament.
This is completely different thing, let me mention only the fact that rapid session was played after blindfold session (different kind of concentration probably). He is great, but I would like to see him and aronian also in European Rapid Chess Chempionships.
Then he can prove he is the best.

RealityCheck's picture

I'd like to see one of these young whipper snappers top Vishy's "Rapid Record"!!

Chesser's picture

''I agree. Blindfold is more a game of luck''.
Haha you must be kidding right!? Blindfold is very representative for one's visualisation, to call it luck reminds me more of amateur players who don't understand anything of the game.

The Golden Knight's picture

I ment "luck" because you sometimes win because your opponent do a big blunder. In that way Aronian was lucky a couple of times in this tournament :)

JustMe's picture

It is called not a "luck". Aronian made no such big blunders not without a reason.


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