Kindred’s Special: More Blindfold by the greats of chess

Earlier I presented the artistic chess of George Koltanowski who probably did more to popularize without sight of all play evolving between opponents.  THAT IS BLINDFOLD CHESS about which  I wrote earlier that largely featured exhibitions along the tour circuit.  In modern times, the game has taken on a challenge to the greatest living players today.  I take you back to Nice, 2009 Amber Tourney where many of the top GM’s, Aronian, Carlsen, Kramnik, Leko, Anand, Morozevich, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Karjakin, Wang Yue and Gata Kamsky kept the crowd of spectators on the edge of their seats that featured one blindfold and one rapid chess game. Emerging from such a stalwart field was the eventual winner Levon Aronian whom it is said showed remarkable resilience for swindling his opponents.

The previous year’s event that held none of the nail-biting finality of 2009 was won easily by Levon Aronian and the biggest question was whether, with the high-powered turnout of participants, all who were experienced in this form play and competition, was GM Aronian capable of a repeat performance?

From the beginning, the lead changed hands a number of times and certainly demonstrated the desire of each participant to vie for the top spot or at least near the top.  Emerging from such a stalwart field was GM Levon Aronian who scored 7 points in each to amass 14 point and edge out 2/p 13.5 Kramnik, 3/p 13.5 Anand, 4/p 13 Carlsen, 5/p 11 Morozevich, 6/p  10.5 Topalov, 7/p 10.5 Karjakin, 8/p 10 Kamsky, 9/p 10 Leko, 10/p 9.5  Ivanchuk, 11/p  9 Radjabov,  12/p 7.5  Wang Yue.

There is a huge difference between standard tournaments and that displayed in the Amber.  The latter has no certain victor in a game set that depends on quickness and will power against the clock as well as a bedrock nervous energy.

White:  Levon Aronian   Black:  Peter Leko    Opening: Queen Indian Defence   Pawn sacrifice for tension and central pressure.

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  e6  3. Nf3  b6  4. g3  Ba6  5. Qc2  Bb7  6. Bg2  c5  7. d5  exd5  8. cxd5  Nxd5  9. O-O  Be7  10. Rd1.

This is a clear idea of mine I played years ago that I discovered with usage of my s/c and illustrates the concept of development with lasting tension in the center for a mere pawn sac. It has become a good gambit line against this particular variation in the Queen Indian.

10. … Nc6  11. Qa4  Nf6  12. Nh4.

Aronian uses a h-file as a springboard threatening Nf5 so Leko is obliged to defend with ….

12. …. g6  13. Bh6  Bf8  14. Bxf8  Kxf8  15. Nc3  Kg7  16. Rd6.

Digging into the enemy position is something I might do; John Nunn suggests positionally what might be better  16. Qf4 and I concur. It looks strong!   Perhaps Leko should think about ..Rb8 > ..Qe7, to guard the Bishop with the added possible d4 square being available for the Knight on c6. This Knight has no real future and winds up on the Q-side when the action is in the center and K-side!

16. … Na5?!   17. Qf4  Bxg2  18. Kxg2  h6?

This weakens the King pawn structure defense. And such moves give spark to sharp play that might well include “sacrifice in the wind”.

19. Ne4  Increases square count (s/c) and strongly suggests itself as the Knight now gets employed into striking the one remaining defense by the black Knight.

19. … Nxe4  20. Qxe4

Not merely taking the Knight but also carries a potent threat.  And don’t forget!  Both players play without sight of the board!!

20. … Re8?

This logical looking move probably suggested to Leko that White would play the Q to either d3 or d5.  But White senses it is time for sacrifice.

21. Rxg6+!  fxg6  22. Qxg6+  Kf8  23. Qxh6+  Ke7 24. Nf5+ Kf7  25. Nd6+  Ke7  26. Rd1!

White brings all the pieces to the attack and adds to the square count.  Remember s/c consideration often proves the right course of action in chess.

26. … Rf8  27. Rd5!  Rf6  28.  Qh7+  Kf8  29. Rg5

It soon becomes mate at the gate! So, Leko resigns.

Perhaps the moral of this chess game battle is, “It is easier to attack than to defend!”

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