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

Game viewer by ChessTempo


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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.


buri's picture

Is there any way to share these videos on facebook?

Parsik's picture

chess is a competitive sport powered by technical knowledge and natural intuitive talent, but the end product is also a pure form of human produced art , so it is really stupid to argue endlessly who is the best player of all time, to me currently there are about 10 players who all deserve to be amongst the best, they all have their own distinctive flavour and hallmark.

CAL|Daniel's picture

For instance, the Azeri grandmaster could have decided the game easily with 47.Rf3. The

Should be RUSSIAN grandmaster as Grischuk was white.

Raj's picture

To Chessvibes: Thank you for your coverage. Request you to remove format paragraph centering and restore it to format paragraph left aligned

Chess Fan's picture

Please google and check how Vishy Anand dominated the top players of the world in rapid chess (the sheer dominance, mastery, brilliance, and creativity) at his peak, especially his games in 2004.

It was unbelievable worthy of the greatest rapid chess player of all time. It was also the time he won the World Rapid Chess Championship with Kasparov and Kramnik participating.

His demolition of very worth opponents in the Rapids in 2004 was unbelievable. Let us not take credit from the rightful greatest from the happenings in the latest.

Chess Fan's picture

The World Rapid Chess tournament was in 2003, but I was alluding to that period of Anand's rapid chess dominance in general.

ronny's picture

there is no room for subjectivity when objective methods to judge the best player are their.
when it comes to classical chess objectively speaking anand is best.
he is the world no 1 and and the undisputed chess champ.

So far as carlsen is concerned he chickened out , so we will never know his prowess in match play.
Aronian is awsome , let us see if he can kick some ass in candidates.....

Boy's picture

Levon is the best!!!! Even playing so dangerous and without such a novelties, he wone))). Great done by The Armenian Grand master Levon Aronian.!!!

kg1's picture

How is the prize money divided up in the amber 2011 tournament? What do the players get? I know the general prize fund.

SXL's picture

Aronian is King, says ICC, and they see a fun rivarly coming:

In the land of the blind at the Amber tournament in Monaco, one man is king: Levon Aronian! His total mastery of the blindfold tournament (undefeated on 8.5/11 - the first player in the history of the tournament to be undefeated blindfold!) proved to play a major contribution in the world No.3 taking clear first place in the overall standings on 15.5/22, a full point clear of Magnus Carlsen, with World champion Vishy Anand trailing in third place.

Although Carlsen scored badly this year in the blindfold, he more than made up for it in the rapid tournament by dominating it in much the same way as his rival did in the blindfold, as the young Norwegian superstar took that title with a record winning score of 9.5/11. And with the final results being as it was with Aronian and Carlsen (and Anand third), it is perhaps no co-incidence that they are both talked up frequently now as being the best world championship challengers from a growing newer generation in the game - and possible world championship rivals themselves in the future!

Thomas's picture

"the first player in the history of the tournament to be undefeated blindfold! [Aronian]"
"a record winning score of 9.5/11 [Carlsen in the rapid]"

What's your source?? It isn't ebutaljib's "Amber tour" ( ), it isn't even the 2011 tournament table in this very Chessvibes report:
- At least three other players were undefeated in blindfold: Morozevich in 2006 setting the record score of 9.5/11, Ivanchuk last year who remained undefeated in _both_ sections, and Anand this year - technically also preceding Aronian because Vishy played in round 11.1 and Levon in round 11.2 (obviously, Aronian's +6=5 is more impressive than Anand's +3=8).
- The record for the rapid still goes to Karpov's 10/11 back in 1995. But that's a bit apples and oranges: Amber became an "exclusive elite event" (no wildcard spots for players as van Wely, Vallejo Pons or Ljubojevic past his prime) only for the last three editions.

While I am at it: Aronian's overall 15.5/22 is one of the best scores ever, last equalized by Kramnik in 2007. For better scores, we have to go way back in time: Kramnik's 16/22 in 1996, Karpov's 16/22 in 1995 and (best ever) Anand's 17/22 in 1994, ahead of Kramnik with 16/22.

ebutaljib's picture

He is just talking non-sense without checking the facts first.

SXL's picture

Eh, I was actually quoting the e-mail I got from ICC this morning. Took it for granted that all of you are getting them.

ebutaljib's picture

Well, you shouldn't believe everything you read :)

eh's picture

Well, maybe he got it from Chessbase, where you can read the following:

With this win Carlsen increased his rapid score to 9½ from 11, the highest in Amber history.

Maybe Karpov got a better score i 1995, I don't know, but anyway 9.5/11 is extremely impressive, especially considering the quality of his opponents.

ebutaljib's picture

Chessbase has stopped being a serious and legitimate chess news site since about 5 years ago. Such incorrect statements just underline that.

Best Rapid score in Amber is Karpov's 10/11 in 1995. Morozevich has the blindfold record ith 9.5/11 in 2006, while anand holds the best overall score 17/22 from 1994.

The only player who manged to get through an amber tournament undefeated is Vassily Ivanchuk in 2010. He is also the only one who played all 20 events.

Kramnik has the most overall wins (6) followed by Anand with 5. Anand won the blindfold section 9 times, Kramnik won the blindfold section 9 times.

Anand is the only player to score a clear win in both sections in one year - he did it twice.

Thomas's picture

As a matter of fact, Chessvibes has the same sentence at the end of the report above - both Chessbase and Chessvibes copy ... the report at the Amber homepage. They are excused as the official site should have checked such facts.

I agree with eh (and hinted the same in my original post) that Carlsen's 9.5/11 is at least as impressive as Karpov's 10/11 back in 1995. And I still wonder where SXL found his "facts" about the blindfold results.

Thomas's picture

Ah found it, SXL's other mistake is from the ICC coverage which he mentions, so several respectable sources were "talking nonsense without checking the facts" - ICC's error is quite amazing as even this year two players were undefeated in the blindfold section. It would have been clearer if he had put quotation marks to highlight that his entire post was copied from ICC, maybe the email message that came in about half an hour before he posted.

@ebutaljib: If I ever feel like checking ALL earlier results separately for rapid and blindfold ... in your tournament tables, it seems that you always put the rapid result first, i.e. in reverse order with respect to the schedule of the event (each round has first bllindfold, then rapid, at least for as long as I can remember)?

ebutaljib's picture

Yeah, I made a mistake by giving rapids first and only then blindfolds in combined standings. I corrected that mistake from 2009 onwards.

You can find seperated tables for Amber rapid and blindfold (and much much more here

SXL's picture

There were more players.

Tano-Urayoan's picture

Well Sir Thomas in the match experience vs youth, the best scorer from the youth team got an invitation to Melody Amber, I don't know if you considered that a wildcard.

Thomas's picture

No I didn't. Actually most of these qualifiers had already joined the world elite one year later - an exception was Smeets last year. A definition of wildcard might be "clearly lower-rated than the rest of the field, no supertournament invitations outside of their home country" (to acknowledge that van Wely played Corus, and Vallejo played Linares). Another one falling in that category was Peter Heine Nielsen - he, van Wely and Ljubojevic were actually sitting on the other (experienced) side of the table in the qualifying event.

misha's picture

Carlsen said he was not impressed by play level in anand topalov match...
and that he would be happy to play either player....
1> but sadly he chicked out of candidates
2> lost his no 1 ranking
3> lost to anand and kramnik several times in classical chess...

I think he forgets that in wcc (unlike tournament ) if you miss the buss , next chance will take several years.... In regular tournaments if you do not win 1 , next will be coming soon. Playing well when it matters most , with standing pressure is something anand has proved in 3 world champion ships. So i would say carlsen is far behind anand . Their is no question of who is the undisputed king of chess . vishy anand

Chess Fan's picture

Unlike Aronian, Magnus has a sub-par record against Anand 1-1 in classical chess. I guess against Kramnik too.

So, Magnus, please participate by qualifying for the World Chess Championship with the currently available arenas, prove yourself by beating and becoming the World Champion yourself before you are taken seriously as the World Champion and can propose changes.

Till then, with due respect to Carlsen's fans (especially, understandably, his die-hard Scandinavian fans), everything else is speculation.

Even for me, lots of the WCC matches looks so simple looking in. It is a different game all together to be playing it from scratch even for a potential world champion like Magnus.

chessbuzz's picture

The best blitz player EVER was Bobby Fischer- In 1970 he won a five minute blitz tournement, 22 games- 17 wins, four draws and one loss. Tal ended second with 4 and a half points less.

ebutaljib's picture

Provide a crosstable of this event.

Antonius's picture

He's talking about the famous Herzeg Novi blitz tournament.
Here is a crosstable:

ebutaljib's picture

I know what he is talking about, I just never saw a crosstable of this event before.

Thank you.

ebutaljib's picture

By the way, do you (or anyone else) know where to find a crosstable from 1865 Berlin tournament where Gustav Neumann won with a perfect 34/34 ?

Chess Fan's picture

Fischer was unbelievable.

If not for his mental illness of self-doubt, he would have participated more to the benefit of us true chess fans.

He certainly had a "beautiful mind" for chess and though difficult to ascertain, was probably the greatest (most creative) chess player of all times.

JustMe's picture

The highest award in the world of chess is the World chess champion title - objective information.

The final aim of every chess grandmaster is to win the highest award of the chess world. The highest award of the chess world constitutes the highest achievment.

Logically inferring, the one who keeps the highest award in the world of chess is also the one, who is at the very top. That is - Vishy Anand.

I don't think it is justified to undermine his name and achievments by subjective speculations with players, that achieved less than him.

JustMe's picture

I also think Magnus one day will be at the very top, but at the moment he is not.

JustMe's picture

Fans of Magnus Carlsen made me sick. It looked like if chess become to sort of Britney Spears stuff, with people yelling how nice Carlsen is, and making all kind of ridiculous statements in order to save their idol's arse. Lets not forget, this is a Chess first of all, not Magnus Carlsen, but Chess.

Chess Fan's picture

Very good point.

I think people have missed the point and taken this as an anti-Magnus rant and hence the preponderance of "thumbs-down" that I also get when I make my best and most rational points myself!

Eduardo Branquinho's picture

"The € 1,000 Game of the Day Prize was awarded to Boris Gelfand for his rapid win over Magnus Carlsen"

Gelfand won the blindfold game not the rapid :)

pat's picture

you all sound like those girls who fight over which of those two guys from that crappy vampire movie are better. just calm down everyone, calm down.

JustMe's picture

It is more like this:
Magnus lost in chess Olympiad, oh oh because he didn't feel well "obviously".
Magnus lost Amber tournament, oh oh because Blindfold chess is a game of luck.
And all kind of bla bla bla . . . it just sickens already.

Septimus's picture

In Giri Anand (Rapid) why not Rxe1 instead of Qd8??

Chess Fan's picture

They are human too. That is why!!

ashwath's picture

18...Rxe1 would just give away the open e file to black's rook.

JOKEMASTER's picture



FAN 2: I heard of anand . For some funny incomprehensible reason he is called the world champ and world no 1. Magnus should be declared both IN MY OPINION.

FIDE : WELL he is not the world champ
FANS : coz he does not want to be one ! thats the point , he thinks this wcc stuff is silly.

FIDE : he is not the world no 1.
FANS : thats because he was sick and lost rating points in olympics. OTHERWISE , IN OUR OPINION he would be world no 1

FIDE : his record against kramnik is poor
FANS : he won the last encounter . IN OUR OPINION that should suffice to prove he is better than kramnik.

FIDE : He finshed behind aronian in amber
FANS : ohh come on , blind chess results do not matter

CAL|Daniel's picture

jokes could use some tact but pretty funny still :)

JustMe's picture

Very nice :)

I can add one more,

FIDE: But he finished behind Aronian in the last World Blitz Championship
FANS: what is blitz ???? that is not counted!!!! look at nice pics he produced with Liv Tyler!!

Chess Fan's picture

You guys could be brutal. I love you guys, man!!

Paul V's picture

Congrats Aronian - Well played!

To my fellow countrymen from Norway here on chessvibes (and chessbomb):
show some class and save your dead-beat "I-LOVE-CARLSEN-BECAUSE-HE-IS-MY-HERO-AND-THE-BEST-IN-THE-WORLD-FOREVER"-comments for a tournament he actually wins.

People like you make the rest of the world want to wipe their asses with our flag.

Skjerp dere jævla dritt-unger!

vh, pulern

Chess Fan's picture

Well said, Sir.

But people like us from outside Norway understand your rightful pride of this great champion and we respect his abilities too, VERY MUCH.

We want to tell others that this was Aronian's tournament that he has won with merit, over even the World Champion, and to Magnus's credit, he almost matched Aronian. My cap tipping to all these great players (Aronian, Carlsen, and of course, the World Champion himself).

pawel's picture

'You are as good as your last game' so until yesterday carlsen was the best rapid player, but who knows tomorrow? Also Aronian : today he wins Amber but in candidates tournament he can lose in the first round. In chess I think it is especially difficult to pointed out strength of players, because long break between tournaments/matches. We have only elo rating and tournaments and champ title. The second point out on Carlsen, the first on big three, the last on Anand.
But it doesn't matter when the next tournament/match will start, everybody start from zero. However, when you see on Aronian or Carlsen games and scores it's hardly believed that someone find them not strongest players in the world at the moment.
As for the elo it's rather funny when someone says 'he's better because he has two or seven points more or less'.

bob's picture

I never understood this saying "you are as good as your last game." Actually I think it is meaningless, because a brilliant player can have an off day and anyone can get lucky.

bob's picture

I never understood this saying "you are as good as your last game." Actually I think it is meaningless, because a brilliant player can have an off day and anyone can get lucky.

Congrats to Aronian, who I said I was rooting for before the thing started, and got lots of thumbs down...

MJul's picture

Please stop the "Carlsen's fans vs. Anti-Carlsen's fans" talk.

I would love to read comments about chess. Not about "chicked out" or "my absolutly perfect hero".

Aronian won. Congratulations!

Blindfolds are luck? No. And if it would be like that: they were part of Melody Amber. So, if you tried to win Amber, then you had to win blindfolds.

So: Aronian won. No Carlsen. Yes Aronian.

Carlsen won Super tournaments because of the football score. Well... everybody know that the tournament use it! (Oh, yes... and that's not true).

Carlsen is the best? No.
Aronian is the best? No.
Anand is the best? No.

They are in the same level (records doesn't matter).

Olympiads and that stuff: well, Aronian and Anand had bad times... (Topalov now).

I'm upset of this.


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