Friday, December 21, 2012

Aronian and Hou Yifan win blindfold in Beijing

(Source: ChessBase)

The Blindfold Events were held on Tuesday and Wednesday (December 18 + 19). It was won by Levon Aronian with a score of 5.5/7 points, half a point ahead of Hikaru Nakamura, who has come second in all three mind game chess disciplines: rapid, blitz and now blindfold. Bronze went to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan.

Prize giving: Silver for Nakamura, Gold for Aronian and Bronze for Mamedyarov

Blindfold games under way (with Radjabov, Jobava, Karjakin and Morozevich). The
players only see an empty board on the computer screens, where they type in moves .

The organizers tried to provide the most comfortable conditions in order to help players not to lose their concentration during the games. Four games were played at the first day of the event, three on the second. Some of the players got really tired and a number of games finished quite quickly because of blunders. Here some typical examples selected by Bartek Heberla:
Karjakin,Sergey (2775) - Ding,Liren (2702) [B12]
SportAccord Blindfold Men 2012 Beijing CHN (4.3), 18.12.2012

In this position black is in serious trouble. However in blindfold chess it’s not a time to resign yet! 31…Nef5!? Very tricky, and a final chance… 32.Qxb5?? and now instead of recapture, Black simply gives mate: 32...Rg2+ 33.Kh1 Ng3# 0-1.
Giri,Anish (2720) - Fressinet,Laurent (2700) [D11]
SportAccord Blindfold Men 2012 Beijing CHN (6.7), 19.12.2012

In this position Fressinet thought that the white king was on g1 and played: 43...Rh3?! 44.Bxh3 Ne2 forking the queen and – the empty square g1! After 45.Qxd6+ he had to resign.
Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2764) - Aronian,Levon (2815) [D94]
SportAccord Blindfold Men 2012 Beijing CHN (4.1), 18.12.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.e3 Bg7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 dxc4 7.0-0 b6 8.e4 Bb7 9.e5 Nd5 10.Bxc4 c5 11.e6 fxe6 12.Ng5 Qd7 13.dxc5 Nxc3 14.Qxd7 Nxd7 15.Bxe6+ Kh8 16.Bxd7 Ne2+ 17.Kh1 Nxc1 18.Raxc1 Bh6 19.h4 bxc5 20.Rxc5 Rf4

Here things are difficult to explain (did he misread his opponent's move?): 21.Rc4?? Rxc4 0-1.

In the fourth round Shakhriyar Mamedyarov got better position against Aronian but
blundered a rook and resigned immediately.

Levon Aronian during a blindfold game. A fter the first day of blindfold the Armenian
had made just one draw (against Hikaru Nakamura) and led by 3.5/4 points.

On the second day Aronian made two draws against Peter Leko and Teimour Radjabov and defeated Wang Hao. 5.5 points out of seven games turned to be enough for the first place in the tournament, as the closest rival of Levon at that time Hikaru Nakamura failed to win in the last round against Liren Ding and finished the tournament on the second place. As a result, American player won three silver medals in the Mind Games!

Second place (as usual in this event) to US GM Hikaru Nakamura

Peter Leko had good chances for the medals but lost the last game against Gata Kamsky

American GM Gata Kamsky, who tied with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov at 4.5/7 points;
but the Azeri got the bronze medal due to the complicated tiebreak system used

Alexander Morozevich enjoying himself – although he lost this blindfold game to Aronian

Women's blindfold section

Blindfold Women: Hou Yifan won with 6.0/7 points, half a point ahead of Lithuanian GM Viktorija Cmilyte, who had beaten the winner in their individual encounter. In third place was Anna Zatonskih from USA.

Medals for Viktorija Cmilyte (Silver), Hou Yifan (Gold) and Anna Zatonskih (Bronze)

On the first day former women's world champion Hou Yifan (above) took the sole lead after she defeated her erstwhile WCh challenger Humpy Koneru in the third round. Hou produced a fantastic result on the second day and won the last three games to become the winner of blindfold!

The game between Viktorija Cmilyte (above) and Hou Yifan on the first day finished in favor of Lithuanian player, who replaced the Chinese GM on the top of the table. Viktorija started the second day with a victory over Humpy Koneru, and made two draws in the sixth and seventh rounds. Unexpectedly that turned to be not enough for the gold medal, as Hou Yifan won all three games.

Anna Zatonskih made 2.5 points in the last three rounds and grabbed the bronze medal

Third seed Anna Muzychuk finished equal 4-6 with 4.0/7 points

Equal 7-11 for Indian GM Harika Dronavalli, who scored 50%, the same as...

... Ukrainian GM Kateryna Lahno, who sees the humorous side of blindfold chess

... as does German IM Elisabeth Pähtz, who also finished at 50% in the blindfold

All photos by by Anastasiya Karlovich