Reports | October 09, 2011 8:31

Masters Final R8: Carlsen and Nakamura narrow gap with Ivanchuk

Masters Final R8: Carlsen and Nakamura narrow gap with Ivanchuk

In the Grand Slam Masters FInal Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nalamura narrowed the gap with tournament leader Vassily Ivanchuk to 3 points on Saturday in Bilbao, Spain. Carlsen beat Francisco Vallejo, while Nakamura won against Levon Aronian. Ivanchuk drew with Vishy Anand. Sunday is a rest day.

Event 4th Grand Slam Masters Final  | PGN via TWIC
Dates September 25th - October 11th, 2011
Location Sao Paulo, Brazil & Bilbao, Spain
System 6-player double round robin
Players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Vallejo
Time control 90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 seconds increment per move from move number 41
Prizes Undisclosed
Notes Players are not allowed to agree to a draw without the arbiter’s permission. In case both players request it to him, the arbiter will make his decision after consulting with the technical assistant. The football scoring system is used: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss.

A huge crowd, bigger than on any day in 2010, had gathered on Saturday

Round 8

After the rest day (Sunday) the Masters Final tournament will have a great finale: on Monday, with White, Magnus Carlsen plays against Vassily Ivanchuk, who after the 8th round is just 3 points ahead of the Norwegian. Hikaru Nakamura also has chances to become the leader in the next round when he plays tail-ender Francisco Vallejo. Virtually without chances for victory, Anand and Aronian play each other on Monday.

But first round 7, when Vallejo played well again. From a Slav, the Spaniard reached an ending that was about equal, but then he took a poisoned pawn on g2 and suddenly he lost a piece.

PGN string

Carlsen waiting for his opponent to resign, Nakamura watching along

Nakamura played an impressive game against Aronian. From a Queen's Gambit Declined with 5.Bf4 and 7.g4 (the way Botvinnik and Kasparov used to play it!) he kept a small advantage into the ending. Perhaps Aronian could have drawn it somewhere but it wasn't easy and Nakamura showed fine technique.

PGN string

The two endings that both will finish in '1-0' still in progress

Ivanchuk played a good game against the World Champion. In a well-known line of the Queen's Indian the Ukrainian kept a small advantage into a knight ending, but Anand was never in real danger.

PGN string

During the rest day some of the players will do a showcooking in restaurante Yandiola with the cook Ricardo Pérez - they'll prepare special dishes of the famous brand Angulas Aguinaga with angulas (eels), pulpo (octopus) and mejillones (mussels).

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Schedule & results

Round 1 26.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 6 06.10.11 16:00 CET
Nakamura ½-½ Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk 1-0 Nakamura
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen ½-½ Anand
Aronian 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo ½-½ Aronian
Round 2 27.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 7 07.10.11 16:00 CET
Ivanchuk 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo 1-0 Ivanchuk
Carlsen ½-½ Aronian   Aronian ½-½ Carlsen
Nakamura ½-½ Anand   Anand ½-½ Nakamura
Round 3 28.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 8 08.10.11 16:00 CET
Anand 0-1 Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk ½-½ Anand
Aronian ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura 1-0 Aronian
Vallejo 1-0 Carlsen   Carlsen 1-0 Vallejo
Round 4 30.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 9 10.10.11 16:00 CET
Aronian 0-1 Ivanchuk   Carlsen - Ivanchuk
Vallejo 0-1 Anand   Vallejo - Nakamura
Carlsen ½-½ Nakamura   Aronian - Anand
Round 5 01.10.11 20:00 CET   Round 10 11.10.11 16:00 CET
Ivanchuk 0-1 Carlsen   Ivanchuk - Aronian
Nakamura 1-0 Vallejo   Anand - Vallejo
Anand ½-½ Aronian   Nakamura - Carlsen

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 8 Standings (football)

1  Vassily Ivanchuk 14
2-3  Hikaru Nakamura, Magnus Carlsen 11
4  Vishy Anand 9
5  Levon Aronian 8
6  Francisco Vallejo 7

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 8 Standings (classical)



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.


Abbas's picture

Last round games were "Knights games"

redivivo's picture

Anand is maybe the nicest World Champion ever, but all the talk about how he actually isn’t trying his best because he is saving preparation, not for his next event (Tal Memorial) or the one after that (London) or the one after that (Wijk) but one that is supposed to take place many months after the last one (a match against a Gelfand he last lost a game against in 1993), is getting boring. What excuses couldn’t be made for Ivanchuk (reserve, robbed, delayed, etc)?

Anand scored a narrow win against a Topalov that no longer played top five chess. It’s almost four years since Anand won a tournament. Still many seem to keep thinking he is the clearly best player in the world and should win every time he turns up. In the Chessvibes poll 62% expected Anand to win Sao Paulo/Bilbao while the five remaining players together had 38% of the votes. Then, when Anand once again doesn’t win, it’s because he “of course isn’t really trying”, but then why expect him to win in the first place?

In 2007 Anand won a very strong Linares, and later also the World Championship. In 2008 Anand won a very strong Linares, and later also the match against Kramnik. Nothing stopped him from winning the most important tournament of the year and the World Championship, both times in very convincing fashion. Just like Kramnik won first board gold in the Olympiad and then Dortmund just before his match against Topalov. Here Anand is on the way to finish in the bottom half, and I don’t expect him to win Tal Memorial, London or Wijk either. Of course he will win easily against Gelfand anyway, but he’s far from impressing like in 2007-08.

ebutaljib's picture

True that he doesn't win tournaments, but since he is mantaining the 2800 rating through these years and is constantly breathing at Carlsen's neck on the rating lists, he can't really perform that bad in tournaments, can he?

redivivo's picture

He's a great player, but he rarely participates in tournaments, this is his first since January, and my guess is that he will start losing rating points now that he will play as much as the other top players at the end of the year.

Thomas's picture

True, Anand had a break earlier this year - maybe his own choice (fatherhood), maybe he just wasn't invited to Bazna, Dortmund and/or Biel. Not his fault that he didn't need to play candidates event and World Cup, not his fault that Linares didn't take place.
In his four previous supertournaments (Bilbao 2010, Nanjing, London, Tata Steel), he always gained a few rating points and always finished in second place. Those who won ahead of him are either less consistent (Nakamura, even Kramnik) or don't bother to challenge his WCh title (Carlsen). Now Anand will finish in midfield and lose a few rating points - at least premature to consider this the end of the world or the start of the end of his career.

redivivo's picture

"In his four previous supertournaments (Bilbao 2010, Nanjing, London, Tata Steel), he always gained a few rating points and always finished in second place"

Yes, and in the four before that he finished 6th, 4th, 5th and 4th, and in this one I'd guess he will finish 4th again since I doubt he'll win with black against Aronian. Not bad results in all but not very impressive for a player like Anand either, if one compares with his results in 2007-08.

Thomas's picture

Of course results are "not very impressive" if you use such high standards - either Anand's own very best tournament results or, somehow between the lines, Kasparov's and Karpov's tournament results when they were (also) world champion. But those times - one or two players far ahead of the rest - are definitely over. For a while, Topalov had the best tournament results which included winning a WCh tournament, but he never impressed in matches. Now Carlsen has altogether the best tournament results, but he doesn't even bother about WCh events.
With respect to the poll, you still misinterpret it: 62% for Anand didn't mean that he was big favorite, just that many considered him slight favorite - myself included, I thought it could be his turn to win after four consecutive second places in strong events. Who else would have been favorite?
- Ivanchuk, based on his long-term results, could finish anywhere: maybe not sixth place behind Vallejo, but fifth place also would have been consistent with his earlier performances.
- Carlsen didn't impress in Bilbao last year
- Nakamura didn't impress in Bazna and Dortmund
- As we can neglect Vallejo (the 2% or so voting for him might have been joking), this leaves only Aronian. While I see no reason why he shouldn't be co-favorite, I also see no reason why he would be.

arkan's picture

Yeah Anand hasn't won that many tournaments lately - he doesn't need to though to remain World Champion. He only needs to win the WC match again to remain World Champion, and his performance in all other tournaments is just solid.

redivivo's picture

Of course he doesn't "need to" win tournaments to stay World Champion, beating Gelfand is enough for that, but I'm sure he's trying his best just like a sick Kramnik tried his best and won Linares 2004 ahead of Kasparov the same year as he defended his title against Leko, like Alekhine tried his best to win tournaments even if he didn't "need to" win them to stay World Champion and so on.

Bobby Fiske's picture

Bravo Redivivo! A very, very good analyze. Anand is not dominating at all. He is "merely" top 3 in todays chess world.

S3's picture

Why top 3 and not top 4 or 2 oh wise one?

Anonymous's picture

@ redivio

You sound like clone. Your arguments are a stale imitation of what your predecessors gg, frogbert, goldenknight and the like tried to sell door to door last year.

Tournament Champ vs World Champion. World NoOne vs World Champion. It's all wrong. Its all part of the cavalry to disrupt the credibility of the World Championship title.

redivivo's picture

Lol, disrupt the credibility of the World Championship title?! Anand is the World Champion if he finishes last in every tournament. No World Champion needs to win tournaments, but it's fun to see great players play great chess.

Karpov didn't need to win Linares 1994, one could easily brush away that achievement and 99.99% of all other chess achievements with the argument that they were pointless because they weren't title matches, but then there's not much of a point in following chess at all.

Zeblakob's picture

My conclusion: with equal conditions we would see a new wold champion each 2 years.

ebutaljib's picture

Thats why I think the world championship cycle should be redesigned. The last stages of the cycle should like this:

Double round-robin tournament:
World Champion + 7 or 9 qualifiers
No rating qualifiers, no host nominees or any wildcards whatsoever - just World Champion and 7 or 9 qualifiers from the earlier stage(s)

World Championship match
Top two from the round-robin play a World Championship match. Winner of the round-robin has draw odds.

Simple and fair, and no rapids or blitz. We have special World championships for that.

Zeblakob's picture

Nice Idea, I like it. But with one drawback: such a cycle would take so much time (more than 3 years?!), qualification+ tourneo + match!!

ebutaljib's picture

3 years exactly (see below)

If we shrink it into 2 year cycle, meaning that the World championship match and Swiss tournament for the next cycle would be held in the same year, then there is a problem with the loser of World championship match. He would need to be seeded into the round robin tournament too. I think 3 year cycle is better.

ebutaljib's picture

My idea of a "perfect" cycle would look like this:

Zonal and Continental Championships. Elite players normally don't participate in those.

Qualifiers from preliminary stages would be joined by top 30 or 40 from the rating list. That would make a big swiss tournament with 80 or even more players. Such big swiss events were held in 1990 and 1993 (both FIDE and PCA) as an Interzonal tournaments. And it worked!
Top 7 or 9 players advance into the next stage.

World Champion joins the qualifiers and they contest a double round robin.

Top 2 from the round robin play a match for the title of World Champion. Winner of round robin has draw odds.

This would make a 3 year cycle with three main events (one for each year). They should always be held at the same time slot in the calendar (lets say May). This would make easier planning for the players and also for other tournament organisers (so that they don't plan a super tournament at that time).

Also there shouldn't be any rapid or blitz playoffs. How to break the ties then? Just like they did it in the old times (see Helsinki 1947, Budapest 1960, Jakarta 1963, Tbilisi 1966, Interzonal 1967, Baku 1972, Vilnius 1975, Interzonal Riga 1979, South Bend 1981, Interzonal Biel 1985, Candidates Montpellier 1985)
First a playoff match (at regular time controls) and if the playoff is inconclusive then an arbitrary method like Sonneborn-Berger (or Median Bucholz for Swiss) decides. Thats how it was always done from 1940's up until 1980's when they started to mix things.

Such a cycle is in my opinion:
Theoretically everyone has a chance (through Zonal tournaments) to fight for the World Championship provided that he is good enough.

2. FAIR to World champion and other players. Seeding the Champion straight into the final match IS unfair (always has been).

There are only three main events that needs to be organized (1 each year). Thats 3 times less than it was in previous cycle (6 GP + 1 World cup + Candidates + World championship = 9 events!!!)

I don't have anthing against this form of chess, but they have their own World Championships.



ebutaljib's picture

When I say no Wildcards I meant in the later stages.

First, in my opionion the venues for the events should be known IN ADVANCE, before the actual cycle begins. Lets say that such a cycle begins in May 2013 (Swiss tournament) - we should know where the 2014 Candidates and 2015 World Championship are going to be held! Thats how it is in all serious sports - the dates and venues are known at least BEFORE the season begins begins if not years in advance.

So lets say that we knew that Swiss tournament is going to be held in Brazil, Candidates are going to be in China and USA will hold a World Championship match. I see no problem of giving those three countries a wildcard ticket to nominate 1 player (each), but ONLY for the 1st stage (Swiss tournament)! But there should under no circumstances be any wildcards for the later stages. Only the World champion is "privileged" to enter the round robin tournament without eededng to go through the Swiss tournament. Afterall he earned this "privilegie" in the previous cycle.

Zeblakob's picture

Great thank, that is a fantastic proposal, Why I did not think at this before??

stevefraser's picture

The cycle should be every two years, for the sake of keeping the highest level of chess competition in the minds of the public....First year a double round robin tourney with the top rated twelve players, minus the champ....second year the winner of the double round robin plays the champ for the title. No blitz or rapid chess games...everyone is eligible, as they can attain the requiste rating.

ebutaljib's picture

Rating qualification is no good.

Anonymous's picture

ebutaljib, I don't agree with you that the world champion should not have 'privileges'. If we make him qualify and he has an off tournament, the new world champion would not gain the glory of beating a sitting world champion. i.e. Botvinnik became world champion by winning a tournament BUT it would have been sweeter for him (and fans) if he could have gotten the title by beating Alekhine in a match. So this idea of 'privilege' is a connection to the past as most World Champions became that way by being able to overcome the privileges of the previous champ - and unseating him. Carlsen wants a cycle wherein Anand qualifies because maybe Anand doesn't qualify and Carlsen can be spared a match with him; a kind of a dodge really. Besides, by getting rid of draw odds and having a playoff we already got rid of the main privilege that the world champions of the past had. Somebody just has to man up and beat Anand ... or stop complaining.

redivivo's picture

"Carlsen wants a cycle wherein Anand qualifies because maybe Anand doesn't qualify and Carlsen can be spared a match with him"

Do you really think that is the reason? I don't think Carlsen would mind losing a match against Anand, they are close friends. I don't even think Carlsen cares very much about the World Championship, at least not yet, maybe when he grows older than 20. But all the talk about him having to "man up" etc is just silly. Anand/Gelfand will be 45+, with all respect to them I don't think any top player fears them so much that they can't "man up" to even play them. They aren't that much better than anyone else now and will be even less so some years from now.

ebutaljib's picture

If the World Champion isn't good enough to come at least 2nd in the above mentioned tournament, then he just isn't good enough. Period. If you have an off day at the Olymipcs or World championships in other sports you are out. Finito. Wait for next 4 years. Doesn't matter who you are. It's up to every participant that he makes sure to perform its best when it matters the most.

I'm not saying that the World champion has to start at the lowest level like everyone else, but seeding him directly into the final match is unfair and has always been unfair. And then they even used to have draw odds and rematch rights,...phew...why not just start 2-0 up like Fischer basically wanted.

You talk about tradition, I say crap. This "tradition" is only because the Champion used to own the title and could impose whichever conditions he wanted, fair or unfair. Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine just said give me this much and this mmuch money or I wont play you, and others could do what they wanted and play however good they wanted but couldn't get the title until providing what the champ wanted. Real nice tradition you rely on.

ebutaljib's picture

I forgot to add. If you want "tradition" then why not go back to what Steinitz was advocating? Namely just what I proposed above - first a strong tournament, then a title match between 1st and 2nd prize winner. That was Steinitz's idea how a World championship should look like. It was tried at 6th American (Chess) Congress in New York 1889. Unfortunately the idea never materialised.

john's picture

I didn't know Naka had technique that good! Well played.

chessdrummer's picture

He should have good technique... he's 2760.

Chess Fan's picture

I won't be surprised if Naka comes out firing and winning the rest. He has that talent and fighting spirit of Fischer. That is why I was surprised at his "Fischer-like" beating at the hands of Chucky. But then Chucky is not called the Ukranian genius for nothing ;-)

vimapa's picture

only one question: how does Topalov keep his elo rating as he NEVER plays the "big ones"???

redivivo's picture

The only event he has played this year is the Candidates, and last year he played Linares, Nanjing and the title match against Anand, so he hasn't been avoiding top players, but chess players.

Chess Fan's picture

I can't believe that whether "Anand" is a real world champion is cropping up again.
Like the Presidency of the United States, you either respect it or don't. You don't give excuses whether the Presidential election is truly representative because the process in your opinion is not selecting the best candidate, or in your opinion, the President of the United States is not taking the right decisions as some other people you favor would.
If you say Anand is not a worthy world champion, get a player to beat him in this unified world championship cycle. That might/will happen in years as Anand himself predicted in 2008 and mentioned Carlsen. But till then, let us enjoy the games of all these brilliant champions and give the World Champion his due respect.
I have personally known and played the World Champion when we were both very young, and his natural talent, speed, and God-given ability in Chess was unbelievable as was his humility and nicety even as a teen. Pure class in every way.

adam's picture

noone questioned whether he is a worthy world champion, he has definitely proven to belong to the greatest ever. it is just that there are a number of chess fans (other than yourself) who consider his well-fed kindergarten child-like playing style of these days (e4 so that he can draw fast his whites and spare some home-prep, really?!) to be smiled at...

Chess Fan's picture

Adam, do you really think that Anand is playing 1.e4 to draw? He is probably experimenting and playing his best to beat with 1.e4.
1.e4 has always his favorite first move since he played Kramnik in 2008. It is a testimony to the opposition that he has not win more and a testimony to him as a World Champion that he has not lost more to such a high caliber competition. Inflated ego or not, this is one of the highest rated elos of all times. Only Kramnik is missing to make it complete.
"...well-fed kindergarten child-like playing style of these days (e4 so that he can draw fast his whites and spare some home-prep, really?!).."
Really? Do you really believe what you are saying? Have you watched Anand play in person? Have you played him?
I am asking all this respectfully, not mocking you.
He is an absolutely professional who did not spare even me as a close friend, and we were both very very young when we played (sorry to pull put my Anand connection). But he was always very much into winning as I personally used to know him.

adam's picture

okay, i'm gonna try to simplify this: i and many others would love to see the world champion demonstrate his truly outstanding strength by directing regular bloodbaths on the board and taking home every second or third tournament trophy. we do not, for quite some time. period

Chess Fan's picture

I understand, and though I cannot and do not speak for Anand, he is the only one who can answer.
I am sure that that is an explanation other than the fact that he is not a worthy World Champion. For example, with all the powerful computers available, the preparation levels and readiness of all these top world class players have become outstanding. So, unless you uncork a novelty, you might not be able to win. How Chucky, Magnus win so much is a question that I cannot answer.
Also, please remember that Anand losses so far have also been negligible under such circumstances. Even Aronian has already lost twice already in this tournament and we all know that he is a potential World Champion like Magnus. So has Chucky, the undisputed genius.

ebutaljib's picture

Who said/wrote of any doubts whether Anand is World champion or not? Of course he is.

Chess Fan's picture

The question raised was whether Anand is a worthy World Champion or not, as if he was just lucky and undeserving to be the World Champion.
No one could doubt whether he is a World Champion after he won the combined title and defended his title twice, winning the World Championship in different formats, only World Champion ever to do so.

ebutaljib's picture

No, the question was whether or not his tournament performances in recent years are worthy of a World Champion.

redivivo's picture

"The question raised was whether Anand is a worthy World Champion or not, as if he was just lucky and undeserving to be the World Champion"

No, that was not the question raised. Fischer was of course a worthy World Champion even though he didn't play a single game as World Champion and Anand is obviously no less so since he even has defended the title a couple of times. But one shouldn't just reduce all questions to the World Championship. Kasparov won five black games in a row against players in the top ten in Linares 1999. That had nothing to do with the World Championship but can still be discussed as an example of a great achievement.

RealityCheck's picture
ebutaljib's picture

Anand is world class - on and off the board.

Magnus's picture

You can see on that second image that the similarity between Magnus in José Diaz cartoons is not pure coincidence.

Leandro's picture

If I was world champion like Anand, I would NOT show nice moves in such tournaments. I would hide them to retain the world title. This is most important. xD

redivivo's picture

Luckily few World Champions have reasoned that way.

Septimus's picture
Chess Fan's picture

Septimus, what kind of a disrespectful comment is this?

Sergio's picture

I can imagine not showing your newest prepared openings and play something solid you know also very good. But I can't imagine in the mind of a grandmaster happening: "Ah that move is completely winning. Shall I play it, cause it looks beautiful? No lets save it for the world championship if the position arise again. Lets play something more solid and go for a draw."

aerodarts's picture

interesting photographs...wondering about the glass that shield's the GM's. Bullet proof?! Do the GM's like the isolation from the crowd as compared to other tournaments with open air between fans and the players?

In st louis, I was able to approached very close to take some video...looks like I would not be able to do that here!

arkan's picture

Bullet-proofing such an enormous area would cost millions, so i guess it's just normal glass


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