Grischuk beats Aronian in 1st round Bilbao
In the first round of the Grand Slam Masters Final in Bilbao, Alexander Grischuk defeated Levon Aronian with White in an Anti-Moscow Gambit. Alexei Shirov played the Dragon against Sergey Karjakin and drew easily.
The 2nd Grand Slam Masters Final takes place September 6-12 in Bilbao, Spain. It's a 4-player, double round-robin with Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, Sergei Karjakin and Alexei Shirov. The prize fund is € 110,000.
The rate of play is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and then 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 extra seconds per move from move number 41. Like last year, the Masters Final will use both the “Sofia Rule” and the “football” scoring system: players will get 3 points for winning a game, 1 point for drawing and 0 points for losing.
The opening ceremony of this year's Grand Slam Final took place on Saturday in the San Mamés football stadium of Athletic de Bilbao. Four players of the club that finished 13th in the Primera Division last season were present: Fernando Llorente, Markel Susaeta, Mikel San José and the goal keeper of the women's team, Erika Vázquez. They carried the numbers for the drawing of lots, and also brought four, typically red/white striped shirts for the chess players to wear.
Also present at the ceremony were journalist Leontxo García, the President of Athletic Club de Bilbao, Fernando García Macua, Andoni Madariaga, tournament director of the Grand Slam Masters Final and Jon Sustatxa, councillor of Labour, Youth and Sports of the Municipality of Bilbao.
This year's Grand Slam Final has only four players, only two games a day over a period of just one week, so we'd better enjoy it while we can. Luckily the players who are in Bilbao, Aronian, Grischuk, Karjakin and Shirov, are usually in for many good fights, and so it may well be a very entertaining week for the chess fans.
Levon Aronian, who substituted Veselin Topalov only a few weeks ago, went down in the first round already against the winner of the Moscow blitz tournament last week: Alexander Grischuk. Somehow it's still easy to underestimate the Russian player, who never seems to take classical chess a hundred percent seriously (he prefers rapid or blitz, as he has said many times), but in the end he's simply a very, very strong player, who can beat anyone and does so regularly.
Grischuk and Aronian after their first move in the glass cube
In round 1 Aronian was his victim, in a sharp Anti-Moscow Gambit line in which Grischuk has huge experience with the white pieces. He smoothly responded to Aronian's exchange sacrifice and proved that his material plus was more important than his (temporary) bad minor pieces, neutralizing Black's initiative more and more before taking over with decisive effect. (It helped that Aronian got into timetrouble; only around move 30 Black's position seems to collaps.)
The oldest participant, Alexei Shirov, can be satisfied with his start, against the youngest of the four, Sergey Karjakin. Surprising his opponent with the Sicilian Dragon (an opening he only played about twelve times late 80s and early 90s, and once in 1999 against Leko), he could quickly force a draw after Karjakin didn't want to go for the most critical lines.
All in all not a bad start for this small and short tournament. On Monday the second round starts at 17.00 CET.
Karjakin and Shirov starting the tournament with a smile
Games round 1
Game viewer by ChessTempo
Bilbao Grand Slam Final Masters 2009 | Schedule & results
Shirov receives his Athletic de Bilbao shirt at the opening ceremony
Drawing of lots: Karjakin pics no. 1
An exhibition bullet session
Who are the chess players and who are the football players?
Setting up the now famous glass cube...
...on the Plaza Nueva in Bilbao, Spain
The glass cube at night
The players with in the middle Iñaki Azkuna, mayor of Bilbao
All photos by Manu de Alba courtesy of the official website
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