Reports | March 16, 2009 3:13

Morozevich joins Aronian in the lead

Morozevich joins AronianEasily beating debutant Wang Yue in both games, Alexander Morozevich has joined Levon Aronian in the lead at the Amber tournament in Nice. The Armenian played 1-1 against Leko; the same score in Topalov-Karjakin and Carlsen-Ivanchuk. Anand won his minimatch against Kamsky 1¬?-¬?, and Kramnik did the same versus Radjabov.

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 2
Blindfold games: Rapid games:

Aronian: terrible tactical oversight

Before we knew it, one game of this second round had already finished. After about fifteen minutes Aronian suddenly walked into the relax slash analysis slash press room, and he did smile, but it was a different smile than yesterday's. He had just blundered a piece, thinking that his king's bishop was on f8 instead of e7 - the typical blindfold mistake, and exactly the reason why this tournament has been and will be criticized.

We tend to agree that it's a shame to watch these great players falter in such a way, but that doesn't mean that the tournament doesn't deserve lots of attention in our opinion. The greatest players on earth are fighting each other in two variants of classical chess, and this alone means enough interest to many chess fans in the world. And in fact some players have said that especially these playing conditions encourage them to play more creatively.

In the same first session of the day, Kamsky-Anand and Ivanchuk-Carlsen had ended in a draw, and both games were not the most interesting so far, though Kamsky's choice of 8.d4 to avoid Anand's Marshall is good stuff for the theoreticians.

During the second blindfold session the tournament encountered not one but two incidents. In Kramnik-Radjabov the clock suddenly stopped working at move 16, and the relay on the screens was stopped as well, including the live coverage on e.g. TWIC and ICC. When the two players left the playing hall, nobody knew what had happened (except for the arbiters) but as it turned out, Kramnik had won his second blindfold game in a row.


Topalov: 34 now

Topalov outplayed Karjakin who had bravely entered a variation of the Ruy Lopez (3...Nf6 and 4...Bc5) that was investigated deeply by the Bulgarian team for the match against Kamsky, but then for Black! The young Ukrainian soon started to play inaccurately and for a long time Topalov, who celebrated his 34th birthday today, had a completely winning ending. Just when Karjakin was about to resign, he wasn't able to execute the move 76...Kh6 due to a bug in the software, but after sorting this out with the help of the arbiters, Black resigned anyway.

Morozevich won his blindfold game by "beating the Petroff" of Wang Yue today. A clean, strong performance by the Russian, who should be considered a clear favorite for at least the blindfold tournament.

In the first rapid session again Aronian and Leko finished their game first, but this time it was the other way around: the Armenian had won quickly, thanks to excellent opening preparation. 12.Nh4 was new (a suggestion by his second Maxim Rotshtein) and because of the strong follow-up 16.Rd6, underestimated by Leko in his preparation, Black got under heavy pressure. The computer tries 20...Qe8 but that's also hopeless according to Aronian. In the game, White's pretty rook sac was devastating.

Against Anand, Kamsky didn't repeat his French Defence from his match against Topalov, but went for his beloved Breyer. His set-up (taking on d4 and playing the knight to f4) was "more or less a Spassky kind of approach to this," said Anand after the game. The world champion didn't like 20...Qb6 too much and thought it should have been followed by 21...c5. A nice detail: the end of the game reminded Anand of his 9th game in Las Palmas against the same opponent!

Carlsen and Ivanchuk again drew, in a quiet Nimzo, and so both added one point to their total today.


Nunn: still a razor sharp vision

In the last session, Morozevich completely outplayed Wang Yue with Black. Soon after the opening, the Chinese was looking at a horrible position and after that it was just torture. Radjabov-Kramnik was almost completely home analysis and another Petroff draw, while Karjakin levelled the score in his minimatch with a nice victory over Topalov.

He should have won more quickly, as his opponent immediately told him after the game: 25.Ng5 mates in two, as was also spotted immediately by Ljubojevic and Nunn watching the game on the screen. Ljubo: "You would have certainly seen the move at his age!" John: "I even saw it at my age!"

All in all another spectacular round with again eight decisive games and just four draws.

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.


patrick's picture

ok, i see i am a poor lonesome cowboy :)

Ok to keep Amber;)
But would be nice curiosity to create a new tournament chess960 with best players;)

CAL|Daniel's picture

I agree with Thomas!

sjoerd's picture

Nitpicking; but clock stopped in Kramnik-Radjabov ;)

Guillaume's picture

Peter, the crosstable for the combined standing looks wrong. It's the same as the rapid standing.

patrick's picture

"We tend to agree that it’s a shame to watch these great players falter in such a way"

Sure should be more interesting replace blindford tourney by Chess960 tourney.

Peter Doggers's picture

@ sjoerd, Guillaume
thanks, corrected

4i4mitko's picture

happy birthday to Veselin Topalov:)))

Thomas's picture

"We tend to agree that it’s a shame to watch these great players falter in such a way [so far quoted by patrick], but that doesn’t mean that the tournament doesn’t deserve lots of attention in our opinion. "
The _entire_ sentence is worthwhile citing. To me it is not surprising that blindfold blunders (as in Leko-Aronian and before Carlsen-Kamsky) happen - even super-GM's are only human - but rather that there are relatively few of them. And blindfold is something unique, funny, not to be taken all too seriously, but still leading to some high quality games ... . Amber is the only occasion where it is played by very strong players.
Maybe Chess960 also deserves more exposure (so far Mainz seems to be its only major proponent), but IMO a few blindfold blunders shouldn't imply (do not justify) changing the established Amber tournament format.

Guillaume's picture

Me too!

A few blunders here and there are unfortunate, but they are well compensated by brilliant blindfold games like today's Anand-Carlsen!

chessplanet's picture

Carlsen's play today was nothing short of amazing.
He can add another scalp with a blindfold win against Anand, after the Linares win with the white pieces this year.

Another very impressive win for Carlsen with the black pieces was Kramnik-Carlsen 0-1 Wjik Aan Zee 2008 ( round 12).

A player who can win against Anand and Kramnik with Black shouldn't be too far
for the world crown. He still has to beat Aronian and Topalov though. Being Number One is hard work !!

Latest articles