Reports | February 07, 2010 21:45

Grand Slam dates announced; Masters Final in Shanghai and Bilbao

Grand Slam DatesThis year's Grand Slam Masters Final will be split into two parts. One will be held in Shanghai, China (just before the Olympiad) and one in Bilbao, Spain (just after). This was announced last week in Wijk aan Zee, were the board of the Grand Slam had a meeting to discuss matters. All dates for the coming year were announced.

Linares: Feb 12-25
In five days from now, the second Grand Slam tournament in 2010 will already start. Linares runs from the 12th till the 25th of February . Like last year it will be a six-player, double round-robin with rest days on February 17th and 22nd. The players are Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, Boris Gelfand, Vugar Gashimov, Alexander Grischuk and Francisco Vallejo.

MTel Masters: May 25-June 5
Two weeks after the Anand-Topalov match (April 23rd - May 12th), Sofia will again host the MTel Masters. This year the tournament runs May 25th - June 5th.

Bazna: June 10-22
Last year it was already terribly strong, with Radjabov, Ivanchuk, Shirov, Gelfand, Kamsky and Nisipeanu. This month the Kings Tournament in Bazna will decide whether they'll be part of the Grand Slam; the Romanian tournament runs June 10th - 22nd this year.

Masters Final: Sep 3-12 & Oct 6-14
The biggest news from the Grand Slam board is about the Masters Final, which was organized twice in Bilbao, Spain. The first year it was a 6-player double round-robin won by Topalov, and the second year Aronian won a group of 4 with Karjakin, Grischuk and Shirov. This year the event will be split into two parts: one part in Shanghai, China (September 3rd - 12th) and one part in Bilbao, Spain (October 6th-14th). In between, the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk takes place September 19th - October 4th.

Nanjing: Oct 17-29
The third edition of the Pearl Spring tournament in Nanjing, China will start already three days after the Final Masters ends. It runs October 17th till 29th.

Corus: January 14-30
The 73rd Corus Chess Tournament will take place January 14th till 30th in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands.

As always, the winners of the Grand Slam tournaments will qualify for the Masters Final. Since Magnus Carlsen won two consecutive Grand Slam tournaments (and might win more), the organizers we will wait until all tournaments have finished, and then look at best performances of the runner-ups.

The above information was announced last week by Corus tournament director Jeroen van den Berg, after the Grand Slam board meeting held in Wijk aan Zee. (We have entered all super-GM tournaments in capitals in our tournament calendar. Organizers of open tournaments are invited to enter their events there.)

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Thomas's picture

Thanks for the news! Several questions arise, maybe Peter Doggers can answer some of them:

Why did "everyone" wait about one week before spreading the news? (I had asked about the status of Bilbao in various places, noone seemed to know)

What happened to London's Grand Slam ambitions? Mark Crowther mentioned that he was in Wijk aan Zee for the final rounds, I speculated that this might have been (partly) Grand Slam - related ... .

Is there anything more known about the Shanghai/Bilbao format and/or the prize fund? I count a total of 19 days, certainly including some rest days - still wondering how many players will participate.

Finally, it looks like some players may be busy almost non-stop for six weeks in various time zones: Shanghai, Khanty-Mansiysk, Bilbao, (back to) Nanjing !? I wonder if some of them will decide to skip the Olympiad .... looks like the Grand Slam organizers, at the very least, don't care much about this (FIDE) event?

Coco Loco's picture


The Linares site is in Spanish?? What a disgrace. It should be in Catalan.

buri's picture

Is it Morelia-Linares this year or only Linares?

DavidM's picture

Only Linares this year

Thomas's picture

As far as I remember, the Linares website was never much better and always mostly in Spanish - sometimes they had Google semi-translations such as "with advantage a las blancos" ... . Financial problems might as well lead to more, rather than less public relations - how much of the total Corus budget goes into the webpage and videos?

It might be a bit tougher for Linares because they would have to make their webpage fully bilingual, if they also want to keep local interest - while the average Dutchie can read English, this may not be the case for the average Spaniard!

But yes, they may have financial problems. Weren't there rumors or negotiations about Linares turning into Dubai-Linares? But then the financial crisis also reached the Gulf States ... .

Peter Doggers's picture

There was no specific reason for the delay, apart from the fact that it wasn't that hot news and I was busy with other things. London did apply for GS status last year but the two parties didn't close a deal so far. Why would Mark's appearance be GS related? He's an independent chess journo. This is all info I can give right now. And... your last statement seems a bit bold to me; it's not easy to plan tournaments as organizers have to make a lot of people happy. (Not even sure when FIDE set the Olympiad dates.)

Peter Doggers's picture

PS who's "everyone"?

CAL|Daniel's picture

"As always, the winners of the Grand Slam tournaments will qualify for the Masters Final. Since Magnus Carlsen won two consecutive Grand Slam tournaments (and might win more), the organizers we will wait until all tournaments have finished, and then look at best performances of the runner-ups."

Translation: we will not invite Kramnik even if it prevents the apocalypse. Honestly, how do you not invite the runner up from the event where Magnus 2nd qualified? It is either Shirov or Kramnik. This bs about waiting is just trying to find a legit attempt to screw Kramnik.

Thomas's picture

I put "everyone" so I wouldn't forget "anyone" :) - in no particular order, the list could include Chessvibes, Chessbase, Chessdom, Susan Polgar, etc. [assuming they were either represented in Wijk or got a press release] and also the Corus homepage.

Yes, I know that Mark Crowther does many things ... which includes being strongly involved in the London event, so what I suggested was at least plausible IMO. Yes again, maybe I was a bit bold to blame the Grand Slam organizers ... . But it could mean an Olympiad without Carlsen and (any of Kramnik, Topalov, Aronian, Anand, Ivanchuk, ... whoever qualifies for the Master's Final or gets a wildcard) - bad news at least for the respective countries!?

Off-topic as it's not about the Grand Slam:
- final Grand Prix tournament in Astrakhan now scheduled from 9-25 May, overall winner Aronian decided not to participate
- candidates tournament still "tentatively" scheduled for late 2010 or early 2011.

Clifford's picture

The Grand Slam final will be 8 players.
The runner-up who qualifies for Bilbao/Shanghai will be decided by comparing performance ratings of second placegetters in the tournaments won by Carlsen. That means Topalov is currently not qualified and one of Shirov or Kramnik has already made it. (I don't know the exact tie-break method used to choose between the equal second placegetters in Wijk aan Zee.)

Thomas's picture

@CAL|Daniel: I smelled the same rat - not that far-fetched given Danailov's role in the Grand Slam. If London had joined, it would be even harder to avoid Kramnik !? I wonder what exactly happens during "negotiations" about joining the Grand Slam, and what is required to "close a deal". Last year, Nanjing decided to (or was allowed to?) join the Grand Slam _after_ the tournament, when the winner Topalov was known (another story is that he subsequently declined the Bilbao invitation). This time - as far as I understand the report - it is up to the Bazna organizers to say yes or no, but the London organizers had said yes well before their event ... .

@Clifford: Thanks, but what's your source? Eight players would mean at least three wildcards (making it again hard to avoid Kramnik altogether, but who knows?). As far as Corus is concerned:
- Kramnik is ahead of Shirov based on Sonneborn-Berger, as he scored better against the uppper half of the field (the 2700+ players). IMO it would make sense to use this as tiebreaker, because it might be a better predictor on how he can perform in a (Shanghai-)Bilbao-type event.
- Shirov is ahead if number of wins is used as a tiebreaker
- Shirov also has a slightly better TPR, but this comes down to "punishing" Kramnik for his higher rating. This tiebreaker doesn't make sense in round-robins, only in opens - where competing players face different opponents, and it discourages a "Swiss gambit" approach.

Whatever the organizers choose, it would be best to do so before each qualifying tournament - else it is easy to smell a rat, and IMO plausible given Danailov's track record.

DavidM's picture

Linares is the worst tournament ever in terms of Internet support.
How comes that 4 days before the start of the tournament the web page is still showing last year's edition? The design of the web page is absolutely 20th century (unless they're setting new retro standards in web design which I really can't appreciate)
Try to compare with Corus (among others). Uffff.
These people haven't realized how the chess market is in 2010. What a pity!

DavidM's picture

PS: and the official web page is only in Spanish!! (I should better write ??)

SlavoF's picture


Final FIDE Grand-Prix Tournament is set to take place on 9-25th May in Astrakhan, Russia.



DavidM's picture

@Coco Loco
Please take a look at
...amongst 99% of professional chess events, all of them with English version of the web
I don't think It's a disgrace, it's just a question of market, of expanding the Linares brand (and its sponsors) outside Spain and Latin-America
But if it translating it into English (or Catalan) hurts your Spanish national feeling then go ahead, Spanish is as good as any other language, why not?

SXL's picture

@DavidM - pretty certain the reference to Catalon came from the opening. CocoLoco could have written "It should be in Ruy Lopez" but that would be too obvious.

They do not speak Catalan in Linares, but they will play it.

Given the reduced number of players, and the lack of update to the site, the paucity of press releases, etc - one can surmise, if not deduce, that Linares may be experiencing a spot of financial woe.

Victor's picture

I could design the new web site. I'll apply for the job if they'd offer one. I'm cheap and keen to learn! Really, I'm serious. It's ridiculous, they could show up a better facade of their product.

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