20th Amber Tournament 2011 (Preview)
Looking forward to the 20th Amber Tournament
IM Malcolm Pein - Friday 11th March 2011
Malcolm Pein looks foward to the 20th and final Amber tournament by taking a look at a blindfold game between Vassily Ivanchuk and Loek van Wely from 2006.
Vassily Ivanchuk is the only player to compete in all 20 Amber tournaments. Photo © Fred Lucas. | http://www.fredlucas.eu/
The 20th Amber tournament begins tomorrow at its traditional venue of Monaco. Sadly, this will be last Blitz and Blindfold extravaganza sponsored by the Dutch chess player Joop van Oosterom. The first event, in 1992, was named the Melody Amber and held to celebrate the birth of his first child.
Since its inception nearly every world class player has participated at Amber bar Garry Kasparov, who consistently turned his nose up at it. The prize fund, close on € 200,000 includes rewards for success in both disciplines and for overall performance.
This year the world's top seven ranked players including World Champion Vishy Anand and world number two Magnus Carlsen will take part. The Amber tournaments have always taken place in the most opulent of surroundings and Mr Van Oosterom is famed for his generous hospitality. This year the tournament is being staged at the Monaco Bay Hotel.
Your correspondent was invited to an early edition circa 1995 at the Hotel Metropole, not to play but to spectate of course. I rolled up early one morning pushing a baby's buggy to be greeted by a bemused doorman who was used only to receiving guests who had arrived by taxi or limousine.
Mr Van Oosterom's greatest gift to the chess world has been affording the great players opportunities to play great games. Over the years we have marvelled at how the Grandmasters can play to such a high level without sight of the board. Here are a couple of fine examples from previous tournaments.
V Ivanchuk - L Van Wely
Amber Blindfold Monte Carlo 2006
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.f3 Be7 8.Qd2 Nc6 9.0-0-0 0-0 10.g4 Nxd411.Bxd4 b5 12.g5 Nd7 13.h4 Bb7 14.a3
(Ivanchuk invests a tempo to delay the counterattack)
14...Rc8 15.Rg1 Ne5 16.Qe3 Nc4 17.Bxc4 Rxc4 18.h5 Re8
(18...b4 19.axb4 Rxb4 is sharper and if 20.g6 fxg6 21.h6!? Rxd4!)
19.Kb1 Qc7 20.b3! Rc6
Loek van Wely
(21...Qd8 loses to 22.Nf6+! gxf6 23.gxf6+ Kh8 24.Qh6 Rg8 25.fxe7+)
22.exd5 Rxc2 23.g6 hxg6
(Forced, 23...f6 24.gxh7+ Kh8 25.h6 wins)
(Or 24...fxg6 25.Qe6+ Kf8 26.Bxg7+! Kxg7 27.Qxg6+ Kf8 28.Qg7#)
(25...Kxf7 26.Rxg7+ Ke8 27.Re1 Rf7 28.Rxf7 Kxf7 29.Qe6+ Ke8 30.Rg1 wins)
26.Bxg7! Rxg7 27.Qe6+ Kh8 28.Rxg7 Kxg7 29.Rg1+ 1-0
Loek van Wely