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.


JustMe's picture

What it has to do with "anti-Carlsen fans" ? We just want some common sense here. I guess I was not the only one who felt sick from Magnus fans. Ok, fan is a fan, but one must show some respect for chess as well.

In chess you have to put chess in top of everything, not Magnus Carlsen, but chess, even if you are a Magnus fan.

Besides, I don't think great players such as Anand, Aronian, Magnus deserve such kind of bold and cheap support.

MJul's picture

Yes, but sometimes just because of "some Magnus fans", "some chess fans" start talking non sense things about his chess.

So... both should (must, IMO) stop this.

Chess Fan's picture

Anand is the undisputed World Champion chosen the time-honored traditional way. Until he loses it that way, he is the undisputed World Chess Champion. End of discussion.

Don't less your personal loyalties and cult following detract from objective facts.

All this is different from the fact that both Aronian and Carlsen are nearly in Anand's league in tournaments are are capable of doing slightly better than him under favourable circumstances (luck). Both of their genius abilities in Chess (world champion caliber) cannot be disputed by any person truly knowledgeable of chess.

These are facts and are in no fact contradictory of each other and show be self-evident,

MJul's picture


Right now I'm ill so maybe I didn't understood well, but: did you read my comment?

MJul's picture

Maybe I understood now:

-Alekhine was better than Capablanca
-Lasker was better than Rubinstein
-Spassky (for a while) was better than Fischer.
-Kasparov wasn't WCC in the time-honored traditional way since '93. So, he wasn't the World Best Player.

Did you try to say that?

noyb's picture

Until Carlsen wins a World Championship, he cannot lay claim to being the best player. PERIOD.

Chess Fan's picture

Absolutely true.

World Champion = World Best Player.

But does not guarantee winning each and every major tournament or even one, with the kind of competition, luck involved, and great players like Aronian, Magnus, and Kramnik involved, amongst others (Chucky, Grischuk etc!)

gg's picture

I still wonder why it is so important that Euwe must be declared as the best player in the world in 1936 or Kramnik as the best player in the world 2001-05 just because they won an invitational event against one (!) opponent.

ebutaljib's picture

"World Champion = World Best Player"

Absolutely not true.

World Champion is a person who wins a match/game/race/series/whatever called "World Championships"! Period.
And such a person is World champion until the next World Championship NO MATTER what happens inbetween. It's like that in EVERY sport.

The "title" of Worlds best players doesn't have any time constraints. You can be worlds best today, but tomorrow it is someone else, and the day after that another one.

JustMe's picture

There is no such thing as "Worlds best player", that type of concept exists only in someone's head. You can think that Magnus is the World best player, I can think that Aronian or Anand is the world best player, you may even think that your neighbour is the Worlds best player, because neighbour highly amazed you with his playing skills. All this talk is extremely pathetic ... there is a clear distinction between subjective and objective!

Objectively speaking, we can say who is the worlds best player ... that is Anand, and he will remain so until some other guy will not defeat him in an event, that was invented just for that "best player of the World" purpose, as Objective as it could possibly be.

hatsekidosie's picture

All this talk... Thumbs up if you think Gashimov is the best player in the world!

CAL|Daniel's picture

If we are just spouting Titles lets not forget 960 World Champion.

JustMe's picture

Levon is the World Blitz Champion and has a record amount of elite titles and world titles to claim, namely:

FIDE World Cup 2005
Linares 2006
Tal Memorial 2006
Corus 2007 and 2008
Grand Slam, Bilbao 2009
World Rapid Championship 2009
FIDE Grand Prix 2009-10
Gold medals, Olympiad 2006, 2008
Silver medal, Olympiad (individual) 2010
Tal Memorial 2010

Amber Melody! Nobody could solely win that many in the short period of time! 3 times! Three sole wins: Amber Melody 2008, 2009, 2011.

Chess Fan's picture

Levon Aronian's record is awsome.

He also has the best record against the Word Champion.

He appears to be the most dangerous challenge to Anand if he wins the Candidates and qualifies as the challenger in 2012.

I somehow feel that Anand will win the 2012 World Championship even if Aronian qualifies. But Aronian's ability and his humility makes him the most dangerous threat for Anand over the next 5 years. I don't feel the same way against Magnus, YET.

D. M. Modak(India)'s picture

Congrats Aronian! Not surprising he holds No. 3 in Rating but more importantly is within 'hitting' range easily to become No. 1 when he plays next. Our own Anand and Carlsen are now neck and neck.
2) But the only thing which is worrying me is whether FIDE will bow down to Carlsen's pressure of boycotting the World Championship Cycle(unless it is changed to round robin ty. with the current World Champion included) and due to 'political' pressure(in the FIDE elections) revert to ROUND-ROBIN TY. again!
3) Carlsen's ty. record has certainly to be noted and his play in the RAPID section - one loss and one draw only - shows his immense chess strength.
4) I am ALL for Carlsen but only when he says the reigning Champion must also play the contest but it should be in the form of matches ONLY e.g. 1 vs 8, 2 vs 7 etc.
5) Let us all hope that at no point in future we have round robin tys. to determine either the World Champion or his Challenger!
6) Of course all this has hardly anything to do with Amber 2011 results but I have given it a thought on account of Carlsen's fine showing i.e. second place.
Lastly let us all remain in van Oosteroom's debt for sponsoring the Amber ty. for 20 long years!
26th March 2011. 6.48 a.m.

MJul's picture

I remember, when Carlsen withdraw from the Gran Prix, I didn't agree.

However, after the Gran Prix and all kind of unlogical things which happen around it... I think he was fine.

gg's picture

I wonder why you hope that there in no point if the future will be a candidates tournament of the sort that was won by Tal, Petrosian, etc. Is there some special reason that you find the current format with four game knockouts so much better?

Chess Fan's picture

Yes, no one had a problem with the old format about the eventual champion.

So, why not revive it? Is it a question of sponsorship? Let us hope that is solved and we have a legitimate process in which even Magnus has no objection and the challenger challenges the reigning World Champion, just like in the old times, for chess sakes. No more politics, no more controversy.

Chess for chess's sake.

ebutaljib's picture

I once proposed a world championship cycle that would be:

a) open for everybody - theoretically even a patzer like me should have a chance to fight for the title
b) fair to world champion and all other players
c) simple, with as few events as possible, but long enough to separate best from the rest
d) financially sustainable

In my opinion the 3 year cycle should consist of the following stages:

This are zonal and continental competitions, same as they are run presently. Elite players normally don't take part in those.

Qualifiers from 1. should be joined by (let's say) top 30 or 40 from the rating list and they would contest a 13 round swiss tournament. Such big swiss events were held in the 1990-93 cycle and in the subsequent FIDE and PCA cycles. 13 rounds is enough to separate best players from the rest.

First 9 form the swiss tournament would be joined by the reigning World Champion and they would contest a double round robin.

First two from the round-robin would play a (lets say) 12 games match for the title of World Champion. In case of a tie, the round-robin winner is proclaimed as the World Champion.

I think this system satisfies all points a), b), c) and d) above and there are only three main events that need to be organized in three years. Thats managable - even for FIDE :)

P:S.: Yes I find seeding the champion straight into the final as a little bit too much of a privilegie. Seeding him among the best 9 is enough and more fair to all other competitors.

MJul's picture


JustMe's picture

Today there are too many great players, that is why we need Challengers matches.

gg's picture

Well, what's the fun with only stating objective facts? Then all discussions would be like: "Anand's knight was moved to g5 on the 27th move", "A game of chess was finished after 55 moves" and so on. Just stating who the World Champion is will still be controversial in several cases. Some people follow the top events and discuss who the best player is, others prefer to repeat that it already has been proved that Kramnik was the best player in the world 2000-07 because he was the (or one?) World Champion, that Anand is the best player in the world 2007-12 or 2007-15. For some reason it is very important that it has to be like that but I never really understand why so I'll just leave the subject before it gets even more boring.

JustMe's picture

People don't feel the clear distinction between objective and subjective.

Subjective is something, that you can't firmly prove, but you just "think so". It relates to your inner perception of reality, but it is not the reality!

Objective is something, that is actually a thing, something that is real.

For example, Levon Aronian won Amber tournament, it is not subjective, it is objective, because that is what happened in reality.

Another example, Vishy Anand is the World Chess Champion, again, not a subjective information, it has nothing to do with my or your way of thinking, it is just so, because there was a real event.

Now example of subjective information:

Vishy Anand is not the greatest player of the world.
Magnus Carlsen is the best player of the world.

this already not objective, but subjective, you can say for example: my dad is the chess genius, the greatest player the world has ever seen, he just do not participate in public events, he reveals his secret genius only to few people, you just don't know about him, but he is the greatest! - subjective information.

Try being more objective, than subjective.

JustMe's picture

Try to shif this whole conversation from subjective to objective field. That will be really great.

dave's picture

It´s hard to be objective when there is so much fanaticism in the world.
Besides, people don´t like to be objective, they rather start heated debates about subjective matters and to try and make their point heard by yelling louder than the rest.


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