After a solid break since Corus ended at the end of January, I am now ready for a another major tournament! The Amber Blindfold and rapid is a rather unique tournament, sponsored by the Dutch billionaire and chess lover Joop van Oosterom, that since the first edition in 1992 has attracted almost all of the best chessplayers in the world. This year is no exception, as apart from the highest rated player in the world(no points for guessing whom that might be :)there is also the world n.3 and former world champion as well as multiple winner of the Amber tournament, Vladimir Kramnik, as well as the reigning champion and world n.5,Levon Aronian, as well as several other members of the top ten. Each day we play one blindfold and one rapid game, each lasting about one hour on average. The atmosphere here more relaxed than in other super-tournaments, partly because there are no rating points at stake, but not least because of the luxurious playing conditions. Still, there is a lot of prestige connected to tournament, as most of the best players are here, and we all hate losing! Not to forget that playing blindfold is very demanding. Sometimes the blindfold game takes so much energy from the players that they are unable to produce anything decent in the rapid game later that day. The drawing of lots took place today, and as a result I will play the world n.11 Vassily Ivanchuk tomorrow. The 40-year old Ukrainian has a reputation of being an unpredictable genius, capable of producing absolutely brlliant games, as well as amateur-like losses from time to time. Ivanchuk is an Amber-veteran, being the only player to participate in all 19 editions so far! My duels with Ivanchuk are always filled with action, with plenty of decisive games since our first meeting in 2005, so stay tuned tomorrow at 16.00
Magnus Carlsen, Nice, March 12th 2010