Friday, March 19, 2010

Cast of Melody Amber

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

MELODY Amber is not a movie or a musical event but a major chess tournament. The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament is a yearly invitation-only event for some of the world’s best players. It is sponsored by legendary Dutch billionaire Joop Von Oosteroom in honor of his daughter Melody Amber.

It is ongoing from March 13 to March 25 in Nice, France with a total prize fund of 216,000 Euros excluding appearance fees.

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The event uniquely combines blindfold chess and speed chess and is the only one of its kind in the chess calendar.

Here is a brief background of the players.

Magnus Carlsen (Norway, 20). His performance in 2009 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament last September to October was described as one of the greatest ever. He is rated 2813, the highest rated player now. This is his fourth appearance in Amber and he once shared second in rapid play in his 2007 debut. He also shared second in 2008 and was tied for first in the blindfold in 2009.

Levon Aronian (Armenia, 28) is currently No.5 in the world with a rating of 2782 as of March 2010. He won the Fide Grand Prix 2008–2009, qualifying him for the candidates’ tournament for the World Chess Championship 2011. He was the overall winner in Amber in 2008 and 2009.

Lenier Dominguez (Cuba, 27) is making his debut in Amber. His best tournament result was Barcelona 2006, when he scored 8/9 and finished first. His March 2010 rating is 2713, good for no. 27 in the world.

Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan, 24) is also playing for the first time. He played for Azerbaijan in the Chess Olympiads in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. He is a solid player and is currently no.12 in the World at 2740.

Boris Gelfand (Israel, 42) was the winner of the 2009 World Cup. He was fifth overall in Amber in 2001 and 2002. He is one of only a few players who became a GM without having ever been an International Master. He is No.9 with a rating of 2750 though his highest was 2761 last January.

Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 27) was overall fourth in 2006 and the champion of Linares 2009. He is World no.7 with a rating of 2756.

Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 41) was overall winner in 1992, second in 1996, 1997, 2000 (shared) and 2002. He has been a leading player in the world since 1988, at times reaching the second spot in the Elo rating list. His current rating is 2748 though his highest was at 2787 in October 2007.

Sergey Karjakin (Russia, 20) was a chess prodigy and holds the record for being the youngest grandmaster in history at the age of 12 years and seven months. This is his third time in Amber, finishing seventh last year. His current rating is 2725, good for 21st place.

Vladimir Kramnik (Russia, 35) won Amber in 1996, 1998 (shared with Shirov), 1999, 2001 (shared with Topalov), 2004 (shared with Morozevich) and 2007—the most wins ever. He seems to be an expert in both rapid and blindfold. He is currently world no.3 with 2790.

Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine, 27) is also making his debut. He is a former Fide champion and rated no.15 at 2737. His highest was 2743 in April 2002.

Jan Smeets (Netherlands, 25) is also playing at Amber for the first time and is currently world no. 87 with a rating of 2651.

The overall standings after round 4: Ivanchuk, Carlsen (6.0), Gelfand, Grischuk (5.0), Ponomariov (4.5), Kramnik (4.0), Svidler, Gashimov, Karjakin, Aronian (3.5), Dominguez (2), Smeets (1.5).

LOCAL EVENT. The Deep Blue Kiddies was played last weekend at SM City with the following results: Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano had a better tiebreak over Felix Shaun Balbona and won the champion’s trophy and a chess book.

Felix Shaun also snared a trophy and a chess set. John Francis Balbona got a trophy for third while Jeff Dorog won P100.

The event, which had 28 participants, used the seven-round Swiss system.


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