Reports | March 18, 2009 4:46

Kramnik beats Wang Yue 2-0, takes over lead at Amber

Vladimir KramnikThanks to a 2-0 victory over Wang Yue, Kramnik is the new leader of the combined tournament in Nice, with a score of 5.5/8. Radjabov also won twice, against Karjakin. Wednesday is the first rest day. Video added!

The 18th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament, organized by the Association Max Euwe in Monaco, takes place from March 14 (first round) to March 26 (last round) at the five-star hotel Palais de la Mediterran?©e, splendidly located on the famous Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. The total prize-fund is ‚Ǩ 216,000 and this year‚Äôs field is stronger than ever with all the world‚Äôs best players taking part.

Round 4
Blindfold games: Rapid games:

Again, the round started quietly with three draws in the first blindfold session. Although they played most moves, Anand and Aronian finished first; in a topical line of the declined Marshall Gambit, Black was more than OK after the opening. White had to sacrifice a pawn to avoid bigger danger, and after playing the last thirty moves or so at blitz speed (accumulating more and more time on the clock), they finally agreed to a draw.

After yesterday’s loss against Ivanchuk in the Ruy Lopez, Leko switched to the Caro-Kann and held the draw comfortably against Carlsen and in a quiet Dragon that had started as a Najdorf, Ivanchuk did the same against Kamsky.

Kramnik-Wang YueIn the second session, the two blindfold specialists Kramnik and Morozevich had White, and both won. Kramnik, who said that he’s probably playing better blindfold games than rapid games, easily defeated Wang Yue. The Russian was quite serious and gave several reasons: “Blindfold really forces you to concentrate. And besides, the rapid game is always the second game. I’m an old man already!”

Morozevich outplayed Topalov in an ending that looked very drawish from the start. But, as Nunn pointed out, “Ulf Andersson used to win such positions” and so did Morozevich. The Russian didn’t like 34…e5 for Black: “After that it’s perhaps still a draw, but Black has to be very careful. He obviously missed my e5-e6 idea and then it was lost.”

Radjabov defeated Karjakin who seemed to be doing OK after the opening but then suddenly lost a pawn, and on top of that he was positionally worse as well. “A pawn up with compensation”, Radjabov had no trouble converting.

Like with the blindfold ones, the first three rapid games ended in a draw. Professional kibitzer Ljubojevic wondered what happens after 11…Rd8 in Leko-Carlsen, and Aronian even said that he vaguely remembered it to be winning for Black. After the game Leko agreed that it looked dangerous. Aronian-Anand was not too interesting but Ivanchuk-Kamsky certainly was, thanks to the star move 30.e6!? which forced the American to defend accuratly, which he did.

The day then ended with three decisive games. Topalov took revenge against Morozevich, who followed Kamsky and others by chosing the Breyer Defence of the Ruy Lopez – highly topical and probably discussed in the next ChessVibes Openings! Black couldn’t play 22…Qxg5 because of 23.Qxf7+ Kh7 24.Re3 Bd7 25.Rg3+- and Topalov considered the position after 27.Bc1 to be critical, because this is what he started looking at, together with Ljubojevic and also Ivanchuk. And indeed, Black went down quickly after 27…Kg7.

Radjabov-KarjakinWang Yue was doing fine for a while against Kramnik but the natural 22.Rc1?! and 23.Nxe6?! were wrong. Like Radjabov, Kramnik was a pawn up with compensation and easily won the subsequent rook ending. Radjabov then also won his rapid game against Karjakin to become the second player scoring a 2-0 today. White’s exchange sac didn’t really work out well and despite tough defence in the ending, the Ukrainian had to throw in the towel at move 74.

Wednesday is the first rest day in Nice. In the morning the traditional laser game excursion is scheduled, and in the evening there will be a special casino dinner party. There's enough time for Topalov and Kramnik to warm up for round 5, when they will meet.

The Amber videos are now also available as an iTunes video podcast! (Link launches iTunes, if installed) You can share the Amber videos on your own web site or blog too. Just click the “Email and embed this video” button next to the volume control in the player.




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.


Guillaume's picture

Yes, awesome games by Kramnik. He makes it look so easy.

On a sidenote, I hope he will shake hands with Topalov.
"De l'eau a coul?© sous les ponts."

bertje's picture

haha. That music in the video. In dutch we say Who laughs last , laughs best.
Go Kamsky :-)

Jan's picture

As always, the blindfold games of Kramnik are awesome.

Thomas's picture

Concerning the Kramnik quotes in Peter Doggers' report: If I remember correctly, at an earlier edition of the Amber tournament Kramnik said that he would like to play the second game also blindfold!? Guess he was joking, and apparently it would be against the rules.
And I agree with Guillaume's sidenote. If anywhere, the overall relaxed atmosphere of the Amber tournament would be the right time, place and moment. The question is who would be first stretching out his hand, and would the other one actually refuse it .... .

chessblog's picture

Today's Topalov-Morozevich mini-match was highly entertaining.

In the first game, maybe Topalov rushed to exchange the queens by 16..Qa6, while playing 16..Nc6 was good enough and if 17 Rc1 d3! with the idea 18 Qd3 Nb4!; Fritz recommends 16..Rd8 instead.

In the rematch Topalov-Moro, I am wondering if 23..a4 with idea Nb3 was the culprit as Moro could have tried perhaps 23..b4 ( with idea ..b3) 24 ab4 ab4 25 cb4 Ne6! and the pawn will be regained later on. It's hard to fault Morozevich's play in the first 20 moves.

The Spanish opening is very popular in Nice...

Thanks for explaining what Nunn was up to the previous day. World-class kibitzers on the french riviera !

Ok's picture

again as usual fantastic job peter.

John A.'s picture

Hi, what is the name of the song from the video "You Never Know"? It is a nice tune :)

jussu's picture

Kamsky was so talkative and in good mood! Must be really great atmosphere there.

ChessGirl's picture

bertje we have the same saying in Spanish: "quien r??e ??ltimo, r??e mejor". I suppose it´s a big universal truth :)

vaughn's picture

if kramnik and topalov doesn't talk eachother than how they agree a drow,wich was today's case?

Peter Doggers's picture

At blindfold it was easy. Just repeat moves three times, stand up and walk away. :-)

VB's picture

Topalov - Kramnik both games drawn after three repetion.

Thomas's picture

Topalov and Kramnik have drawn before without talking to each other ... : From Arne Moll's report on Corus 2007:
"The draw between Topalov and Kramnik arose in a completely bizarre way. After move 44 it was clear the position was dead drawn. What would happen now? ... A pair of knights was exchanged. Kramnik looked up for a second. Topalov nodded. Kramnik took his scoresheet and signed it. While the arbiter was putting the kings in the middle of the board, the scoresheets were exchanged. ... A historical moment!"
I just looked this up because I wasn't sure if another option had happened: one player calling the arbiter to CLAIM a draw (the final position was knight vs. pawn).

ChessFan's picture

Yes, this whole Topalov - Kramnik thing isn't good. They are professionals, they should act like pros.

jussu's picture

"Yes, this whole Topalov - Kramnik thing isn’t good. They are professionals, they should act like pros."

Well, not that I am happy about their behaviour, but if they truly loathe each other from the depth of their heart, then this is probably the best they can do. A chess professional is a human, too. At least they shake hands when resigning - how ugly would it be if they avoided even that.

Peter Doggers's picture

True. They both are OK with the current status quo.

Arne Moll's picture

@jussu, not that it matters much, but they do not shake hands when resigning. At least, during Corus last year, when Topalov beat Kramnik in the famous Nxf7 line, the latter simply signed the scoresheet, stopped the clock and walked away...

jussu's picture


Latest articles