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.


chessfan006's picture

Why dont you become a little lucky and reach 2800+

S2's picture

yes rapid chess says it all! And blitz of course. Oh wait, aronian won the blitz wch before..never mind :/

JustMe's picture

yeah, rapid chess says it all...but stop, Magnus never won rapid wch, while Aronian did..but never mind :)

Parsik's picture

you are really blind ,aren't you?

Excalibur's picture

Celso,please stop making a fool out of yourself.

Celso's picture

Excalibur, are you blind?

Chesser's picture

Thumbs up for excalibur

SXL's picture

Bravo. As Larry Christensen said it, a Fischerian or a Karpovian effort by Levon Aronian. Deeply impressive.

Axel Müller's picture

I believe he said: Fischeresque and Kasporovian ;)

JustMe's picture

Aronian was really amazing.

bhabatosh's picture

Surprising this year Anand probably did not do well in Rapid section ,
but he did extremely well in BlindFold !

But Aronian is deserved champion , he took his chances and he punishes
when you make some error. I am a die hard Anand fan but must admit based on last few years result he is a big threat to Anand . I am hoping for Aronian for match against Anand !! A match to remember probably ......

Carlsen took Anand's rapid title , it is fair to say he is best rapid player now .
What , he just played Benko that too against Gelfand . I thought it was a mistake to play this opening with players like Gelfand !! I personally dont like Carlsen but
his performance here in rapid section is admirable .........

what a great tournament ......... but sadly last one :-(

Harry Caray's picture

Why am I not surprised that Nakamura would roll out the Richter-Veresov against a world champion?
I was hoping he'd win it, though.
I like weird openings.

chessrobot's picture

1st place - Aronian (!!)
2nd - Carlsen (!)
3rd - Anand
10th - (former world champion) Topalov (??)
11th - Giri
12th - (former world champion) Kramnik (??)

Anish even performed better than Vlad by 0.5 only!

I cannot wait for the cartoon/caricature for this particular event.

Tano-Urayoan's picture

Sir : Giri was last. Kramnik score in last round was 1-1 but Giri lost 0-2

AljechinsCat's picture

With Melody Amber, a perl in the row of chess events has gone forever. Thanks very much to Mr. van Oosterom from Cologne, Germany for his courtesy. I wish health, luck and peace to him, his family and his daughter whose name has become immortal to the chess world and will forever bear the name of pure grace, sportsmanship, dignity and a little innocent fun in this living.

The Golden Knight's picture

Maybe the internet chesscommunity should go together and support this tournament financially in one way or another? We are many, and we love Amber :)

Chesser's picture

I respect your optimism

Chess Fan's picture

Very good point.

If I could give a million dollars and afford it, I would.

Maybe, I can give $100 if that would help. Can someone with more time to spare than me organize the effort and each one can contribute what they can. Even if we can organize intermittently, it would be great for chess. Do not know whether this is practically possible though. Won't know unless we try.

Thanks for a great suggestion, Mr. Golden Knight.

V's picture

, c'mon, don't be ridiculous, as if Carlsen didn't know that this is a blindfold/rapid tournament. Aronian is the champ here - admit it, that's all folks. And no need to belittle smb's services, it's not solid

As for Rapid - the best one in Rapid was Anand until he was defeated by Levon Aronian. This is not a personal opinion, u can check it here -

"Aronian new Rapid World Champ"

Levon is also the reigning World Blitz Champion.

"Aronian wins World Blitz Championship"

rogge's picture

Quote:"As for Rapid – the best one in Rapid was Anand until he was defeated by Levon Aronian. This is not a personal opinion, u can check it here "

Ah, yes. I've been waiting for that one. Congratulations :)

S2's picture

I wonder, are you the one giving "Celso" thumbs up ? :)

rogge's picture

Celso who?

Congrats Aronian and Carlsen. Superb performances.

JustMe's picture

Yup, Levon Aronian is the World Blitz Champion. Levon Aronian is also the only player who managed to win at some point in time both World Rapid and Blitz Championships.

Chess Fan's picture

I believe that in an official World Rapid Championship, Anand would still be king.

But I am not sure. Just based on recent record, it appears, Magnus, Lev, and then Anand, with Chucky piping all three from time to time!

V's picture

**** I wrote it 2 Celso and all those who think the way he does...

Peter's picture

This last Amber tournament was another great one, with many of the top players participating. I hope there will be something like this again in the future because I enjoy seeing variations of the game. However, one must not lose perspective of the results of this tournament when extrapolating it to the classical chess time control. For one thing, the players will not reveal important opening novelties, and they might try new openings that they're not normally comfortable playing. With less time in rapids, they might also play more risky and make less sound sacrifices.

Having said all that, it was a great result for Aronian and Carlsen! Congratulations to Aronian for winning the overall tournament and the blind section, and congratulations to Carlsen for winning the rapid section. It's not a big surprise, considering both are in the top three in classical chess ratings and are currently on fire. These two lead the bunch of very talented players of the younger generation.

Anand did well in the end, winning his last match 2-0 to reach a good score. However, I expected him to do better, particularly in the rapid game where he used to excel. In classical chess, as long as Anand remains as the World Champion and keeps his rating at the highest levels, it's too early to say there's a changing of the guard there.

None of the other players had impressive scores. Kramnik had another disappointing tournament; he's been in quite a slump lately and hopefully will recover for the candidate matches. His blind game against Ivanchuk was entertaining, however.

Great tournament!

Peter Wells (several Peters here)

CAL|Daniel's picture

GM Peter Wells?

Al's picture

9.5/11 in the rapid against the top 8 ranked players (+the 10th) in the world, that is just awesome work from Carlsen, something to be proud of! :-)

I agree with what others said earlier about a lot of luck involved in blindfold so to me, although yes Aronian won this tournament Carlsen has shown that he is the no 1 player in the world.

Although he is still a bit flaky I believe it is because he always plays to win and takes risks which makes exciting chess. The other thing that amazes me is his inner strength to bounce back from losses, somehow he plays even better after a rough time. For me if I take a couple of bad losses I turn to custard and just get frustrated. So his results are mixed but he is only 20,

I look forward to seeing what we'll be seeing in 5 years times. The older players will be dropping out of the circuit soon so we'll be seeing a big change at the top, Kramnik for example may be doing exactly that, everybody has an expiry date. Giri will be interesting as on a graph he is by far improved the fastest, bit scary actually but then he'll have to flatten out at some stage soon.

I look forward to the closing ceremony videos.

The Golden Knight's picture

Well spoken, Al! :)

JustMe's picture

There is no luck involved in Blindfold tournament, only your superior memory and thinking abilities. It is a chess, it is not a game of luck, and blindfold chess is thousand times harder than classical one ... not just moves and opening theories that you studied, but you have to keep lot of information in your head while playing, that is, where mistakes come from, and luck has nothing to do with it, no matter how much in love you guys are with Magnus.

Levon Aronian was in no question here. Definitely was the best player in this tournament. Just face it, Magnus was worse than Aronian, and in fast chess as well (considering that Aronian defeated in fast chess Carles during the World Blitz Championship).

bhabatosh's picture

Ya if you win played brilliantly and if you loose you are unlucky
since you wanted to win every game badly . That is a good one!!

Aronian is the champion and he was the best player in this tournament and that
is the bottom line. The objective in this event to for every player was to score maximum points and Aronian just did that . In that process he defeated Kramnik , Anand et al etc ....
So he was simply best .
I am Anand's fan but that does not mean I would just say Anand was best even if someone played better than him in the tournament.

score chart does not support you emotion .

Jeff Hall's picture

Carlsen? Aronian? Giri? Hard to tell who will replace Anand someday.

The Golden Knight's picture

Well, his name starts with a C! ;-)

The Golden Knight's picture

Well, his name starts with a C! ;-)

Chess Fan's picture

Isn't that uncertainty of equal chance what makes it all interesting?

It could even be Karjakin or Wesley So, or some new unknown Chinese prodigy.

For me, I would not dismiss Anand as the World Champion for the next 5 years at least. Let us see.

ebutaljib's picture

More players to do what?

Vooruitgang's picture

Thank you Mr. van Oosterom for all of those wonderful tournaments at Melody Amber and NH in Amsterdam. You provided many great times and memories for us.

Ben's picture

I would hope that the organizers would reconsider their desire to discontinue the series entirely in the chance that they might want to host the event every 3-4 years instead.

SXL's picture

Looks like Nunn should lose his photo-privileges:

What's with the "Carlsen won it, blindfold is dumb" crowd?

Sheesh. The board is just a silly static representation of the endless options of the game - and a crutch for people who can't keep it all in their heads.


CAL|Daniel's picture

I'm just curious whats with the Blindfold is dumb crowd in general. These people irk me to no end. If blindfold bothers you then GOOD THING YOU WERE NOT PLAYING THERE. Sheesh. None of the other 18 melody ambers suffered this kind of attack on the blindfold segment.

Vooruitgang's picture

I think GM Nunn should publish a book of his chess photos. Fantastic stuff!

Chess Fan's picture

Dr. GM Nunn is great in whatever he does (except playing against the rising stars ;-) )

Respect and adore his accomplishments and his work.

Septimus's picture

If you noticed, Topalov uncorked a few novelties. Perhaps this is an indication of his strong preparation for the candidates match?

chessfan0012's picture

An off topic question to experts:

What do you think are the Topalov and Madeyarov chnaces in the World championship?
Did they gave any interviews lately ot talked about it ? I want to know their views about their thinking and chances


Chess Fan's picture

Both of their chances are next to nil, in this chess expert's expert opinion.

Both also have something in common in blaming brilliant human moves on chess engines and in one case, toilets ;-)

Thomas's picture

I am less (self-)confident about calling myself an expert, but here are my two cents:
Topalov's chances shouldn't be underestimated (this doesn't mean that I am rooting for him ...). He will certainly be well-prepared, and his current crisis may be temporary. Plus, as he (loser of the last WCh match) was seeded first, he has a relatively easy draw - Kramnik and Aronian, whom I consider the main favorites, would already meet in the semifinal.
I was skeptical about Mamedyarov as he got his impressive rating mostly by beating weaker (2600ish or less) opponents in team events. But then he won Tal Memorial ... . Hence, IMO only Kamsky is an absolute outsider in the candidates event.

As to interviews, there was one with Danailov (certainly speaking on behalf of Topalov) roughly a month ago:
"Veselin will prepare for [the candidates matches] seriously, and if he’s as well prepared as he was for the match against Anand, then he’ll be one of the main favourites. I hope we’ll see the old Topalov in Kazan! ... Then [in case of a final Kramnik-Topalov] we’ll have serious support in Kazan. After all, people in Bulgaria are well aware of the fact that in ancient times Kazan was the capital of the Bulgarian Kingdom…"
Well, what else should he say? And there is always a bit of nonsense in Danailov interviews (also other parts of this particular one).

Al's picture

Just to clarify what I mean by luck in blindfold chess as it seems to of produced several frustrated comments.

I understand it is a lot harder to play and you have to be a genius with a incredible memory and concentration but it seems to me there is a lot higher chance of you and/or your opponent blundering because they forgot, overlooked something, forgot what square a piece is on, forget a piece is hanging etc... A lot more games were won simply because their opponents missed something they wouldn't have normally.

Blindfold chess isn't dumb at all, it seems very cool.

JustMe's picture

"a lot higher chance of you and/or your opponent blundering because they forgot, overlooked something, forgot what square a piece is on, forget a piece is hanging etc…" - that is the whole point of Blindfold chess in particular, and this tournament in general. If one forget, and the other one do not forget, it is not because of luck, but because of different patterns of brain functioning, which is very important in classical chess too (as you have to imagine different possibilities before making your move).

Andrew H's picture

The concluding phase of Nakamura's King's Indian win over Kramnik is simply stunning - one for the book!

Hociota's picture

So okay, with all this talk about winners....

What did the one hot-dog man say to the other hot-dog man? "Not to worry, you may already be a wiener!!!" :-)

Congrats to all and the xlnt coverage by ChessVibes as well.


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