Reports | October 10, 2011 19:17

Masters Final R9: Carlsen beats Ivanchuk in dramatic round

Masters Final R9: Carlsen beats Ivanchuk in dramatic round

Magnus Carlsen beat Vassily Ivanchuk in the 9th round of the Grand Slam Masters FInal in Bilbao, Spain. The Norwegian now shares the lead with the Ukrainian, with one round to go. Levon Aronian defeated Vishy Anand but the biggest drama was seen in Vallejo-Nakamura: in a better position the American lost on time - but that wasn't the whole story (see below).

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.

Round 9

A nice and sunny Monday in Bilbao saw the most dramatic, and also most exciting round of the tournament thus far. Magnus Carlsen caught Vassily Ivanchuk in the standings with a victory in a direct encounter, Levon Aronian beat World Champion Vishy Anand in just 25 moves and Hikaru Nakamura lost on time against Francisco Vallejo, filed an official protest and saw it rejected by the Appeals Committee. All that in just one round!

In chronological order, Levon Aronian's victory against Vishy Anand came first and it was an incredibly smooth one. The Armenian grandmaster gained the initiative right from the opening - a rare line from the Queen's Gambit Accepted.

PGN string

Afterwards Aronian said:

I'm very happy to recover from the tournament by winning today. I think I was playing terribly the whole tournament and maybe only today I was concentrating. Maybe on the first day and today I was showing some kind of chess. It's a strong tournament and everybody is playing very good chess so I think this tournament everybody can win.

Levon Aronian beats Vishy Anand with remarkable ease - the World Champion is now in last place

Magnus Carlsen did what he had to do: beat Vassily Ivanchuk and close the gap of three points. In a Nimzo-Indian that also had some Dutch Defence tendencies, Carlsen tried the original bishop development move Bf1-h3. Already at move 14, Ivanchuk went for a line in which he must have missed something.

PGN string

Ivanchuk realizes that Carlsen is going to take the bishop on c8 with his queen, and resigns

It was great to see that Ivanchuk, after losing such an important game, entered the stage anyway to please the spectators. To the question what went wrong, Chuky mentioned a small anecdote:

Some scientist needs to explain to spectators Einstein's relativity theory. Before his explanation, he says: 'I have to suffer a lot explaining something I don't understand myself.' This relates to my game: I didn't understand anything!

Before that, Carlsen had explained in detail what could have happened in this game. But while he was doing this, the third and last game of the round saw a very unexpected turn of events. Hikaru Nakamura had been worse for a while, but eventually got a nice advantage against Francisco Vallejo, who afterwards admitted that he had been outplayed when he got into timetrouble. But just as things went his way, Nakamura lost on time, at move 39.

PGN string

Here's what happened. With about 25 seconds on the clock, Nakamura asked the arbiter if he had reached move 40 and according to Nakamura the arbiter had nodded. After getting a fresh glass of orange juice, to his horror he saw that the game had been declared lost. Here's what Vallejo told us:

What happened is he asked the arbiter: 'Is it move 40?' I didn't hear anything from the arbiter. Of course, he can't say anything obviously. Then he stood up and I realized it's not move 40. His clock went down and then he was claiming something like, the arbiter moved his head or something, something like that. I didn't see it and I didn't hear any sound. I'm not very happy to win like that. He had a clear advantage; I don't know if it's  winning or not. To win that game is very lucky from my part.

Chief arbiter Anil Surender of Sweden stops the clock...

...and as soon as Nakamura returns with a fresh orange juice, he tells the American that he lost on time... the surprise of Nakamura, who thought the arbiter had nodded 'yes' when he asked him if he had reached move 40

Nakamura still arguing with the arbiter, while Technical Director Juan Carlos Fernandez has entered the cube

Nakamura filing an official protest

Nakamura filed a protest and then stayed inside the glass cube for about half an hour, while the organizers were dealing with it. The Appeals Committee, consisting only of Technical Director Juan Carlos Fernandez, eventually rejected the protest on the basis that witnesses hadn't noticed the arbiter clearly nodding, and on the fact that an arbiter isn't allowed to say anything about the moves anyway. After hearing this, Nakamura left the playing hall with his father, (quite understandably) not in the mood to give signatures or talk to the press. Later he would tweet:

I've lost many chessgames and I've won my fair share too, but none have been this painful ever. Thankfully there are other things in life.

Tomorrow everything will be decided. There are many scenarios possible, and here are the tie-break rules provided by organizers:

If two players are tied for first place, there will be a tie-break in a lighting chess duel which will be played immediately after the last round. This duel will consist of two games, with 4 minutes per player and 3-second increments for each move made, alternating colours with the first to be decided by a draw. If there is still a tie a “sudden death” match will be played, with white having 5 minutes and black 4, black winning in the case of a draw. The colours of this match will be decided by draw. If the number of players tied for the top spot is more than two, what is outlined in point 3 below will be applied to determine which two players will play in the duel.

The traditional points system will be applied. Win: 1 point, draw: 0.5 points and loss: 0 points. From the resulting placings, it will then be observed if the third and fourth places are tied with first and second. If this is so the scores of the worst player in the tournament are eliminated, and this is done until the tie is broken.

Photos: Manu de Alba

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 1-0 Ivanchuk
Vallejo 0-1 Anand   Vallejo 1-0 Nakamura
Carlsen ½-½ Nakamura   Aronian 1-0 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 9 Standings (football)

1-2  Magnus Carlsen, Vassily Ivanchuk 14
3-4  Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian 11
5  Francisco Vallejo 10
6  Vishy Anand 9 

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 9 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.


Anonymous's picture

It appears that Carlsen has once again shown his standard. Now even if Ivanchuk stays tied for overall first, he will know that Carlsen has beat him in both their games. It is a shame that Carlsen does not go back into training with Kasparov and start to play matches against top players. Anand will not be champion forever and Carlsen would be a logical contender - if he overcame his fear of losing a match. Carlsen not contending for the world title is similar to Fischer not wanting to play Karpov.

redivivo's picture

Carlsen is only 20, there's many years left for him to "overcome his fear of losing a match", as you see it, Fischer failed or quit several cycles and Carlsen's reasons for declining the Candidates knockout had little in common with Fischer's refusing to play Karpov, he just stopped playing chess and went nuts.

Chess Fan's picture

I don't believe in Carlsen's fear of match. After Anand's time (and I hope as his fan that it is not anytime soon), when Anand retires on top on his terms, I expect both Aronian and Magnus to be the World Champions and keep battling like Kasparov and Karpov for years to come. There may be some other surprises (welcome competition) in the form of Rajdabov, Karjakin, Anish Giri etc. if they improve and stay consistent.

Thomas's picture

If the standings don't change tomorrow (let's say Ivanchuk and Carlsen both draw their final game), London and Bilbao combined is amusing, almost some sort of higher justice:
- In London, Carlsen was tied with Anand and McShane based on traditional scoring and lost against both of them, but finished on top thanks to football scoring (+4=1-2 beats +2=5)
- Now he would be ahead of Ivanchuk with traditional scoring, and won both games against him, but football scoring creates a tie between them.

redivivo's picture

"finished on top thanks to football scoring (+4=1-2 beats +2=5)"

Not really, first tiebreak in London was number of wins, so with traditional scoring Carlsen would still have won the tournament.

Knallo's picture

Nakamura should know that the arbiter is not allowed to tell him whether he reached the time control. A fortiori, the arbiter should know that, too.
This really shouldn't happen in a top tournament.

HaroldChasen's picture

I agree. Naka should check the rules first...

Jon's picture

Of course Naka is responsible for his own games, but this time control is a joke. Without any kind of increment or relay it is impossible to continue recording your moves.

Jon's picture

Delay* not relay.

Rodzjer's picture

Was Nakamura not told about the time control rules before he decided to enter this tournament? Did he not read them himself?
Jon it is your good right to say you find the time controls a joke, but for every player in this tournament, they are not. They are part of the set of rules under which they play their games.

Nakamura should plan his games better.

pat j's picture

you are 100% correct. you do not see him whining when his opponents get in time trouble and make mistakes. time to grow up and be a big boy.

adam's picture

awesome round :D

Randy Hoch's picture

Sounds like there's even more to this story than related here. Did either player have a clean scoresheet showing Naka only made 39 moves? That would mean Pons, by rule, would have had to have an accurate scoresheet to claim a win. (Unless FIDE rules no longer require this.)

I guess Naka assumed too much when he refilled his orange juice... Did the local hero have an off-the-board advantage here?

middlewave's picture

FIDE rules NEVER required this. Only in the USA there is such a rule, and I understand that it is on its way out. What FIDE rules say about such cases, when neither player has a complete scoresheet, is that the game is adjourned temporarily after a flag fall, it is replayed on a separate board under supervision of the arbiter, and the missing moves are determined and recorded. After that, if a player has failed to complete the necessary number of moves, he just loses the game (unless the opponent cannot mate in a legal way, in which case it is a draw).
I seriously doubt that the arbiter did anything like nodding. Only a completely amateur arbiter would do this. Everyone knows that the arbiter is not allowed to reply to such questions, and surely Nakamura does too - asking this question was already ridiculous action on his part.
It all sounds like typical Nakamura overblown self-confidence (being convinced he had played 40 moves) and typical Nakamura cry-baby behavior, coming up with some ridiculous excuse to shift responsibility to someone else. He should just grow up. Only beginners lose on time in this way.

Remco Gerlich's picture

And additionally, in this case actual reconstruction wouldn't have been necessary of course since all the moves are shown on large screens out of the players' sights, on the Internet, etc.

Bitmap's picture

FIDE rules do not require you to have a "clean scoresheet" to claim a win on time in such a situation. If a player has less than 5 minutes left on the clock and the increment is less than 30 seconds, he does not have to record his moves any longer. If both players do so, the arbiter has to record the moves.
Then, when a flag falls and it is not clear if 40 moves have been played, the game has to be reconstructed on a different board to find out. That's the basis on which a win on time is awarded.

arkan's picture

preparing for Nakamura's twitter-bombs

Creemer's picture

Nakamura's blunder almost makes me want to follow him on twitter to read about the steam coming out of his ears.


Celso's picture

Paco = Lucky, luchy! Two times!

Alexander's picture

If the world of chess was founded on reason, the arbiter would fulfill his only thinkable purpose and brought the glass of juice himself. But as things stand, he remained seated and quiet, because chess can only be played in the presence of an elderly gentleman who is bound by the very rules to remain seated and quiet.

ebutaljib's picture

You can't be serious?! Arbiters are not waiters, you know?

Besides in time scrambles when players don't record their moves, it is his responsibility to record the game and to oversee any irregularities (knocking down the pieces, making the move before opponent executes his and all sorts of things that can happen in hectic). How is he suppose to make a rulling when one of the player protests if he didn't see the situation because he was waitering???

Zeblakob's picture

There is a clever to record the moves in time trouble: just write a small dot instead if writing the whole move, I saw Karpov doing that in Sevilia.

ebutaljib's picture

Players in time trouble used to make dashes (don't know if this is allowed anymore) instead of writing the moves. Why? So that they knew how many moves they have made. this was the only way to know with analogue clocks. But now with electronic clocks this is different - just look at the clock and you'll know whether you made the titme control and not. That was nakamuras fault - he idn't look on the clock to see that he hasn't got an extra hour yet, but only 25 or something seconds.

Zeblakob's picture

Agree but this allows to know if you are at move 40 or not. It does not allow to know how many moves are left to reach time control. Naka was asking for the first stuff.

Celso's picture

Paco = Lucky, lucky! Two times!

ebutaljib's picture

Why the hell does a player need to ask anybody if he made 40 moves or not??? Just look at the clock - if you see that you have an hour on it then you made it, but if it still says 0:45 then you obviously didn't. This are electronic clocks that always show exact time, not the old analogue clocks where such things weren't visible on it.

ws's picture

not really true: some clocks show the time of the next period only, if one of the players overstepped the given time for the first period. This is not based on move counts - and it is according to the rules: No one - not even a clock - should indicate, how many moves are made.

ebutaljib's picture

I've never seen such a clock and they certainly do not use that kind of clock in Bilbao or any other of those high profile tournaments. So it is a bogus excuse for Nakamura. All he had to do is to look at the clock and he would know exactly how much time he has. It's his own fault and nobody elses.

Remco Gerlich's picture

They probably use DGTs, and they only add the time when one of the players gets to 0.

As it should, after all the clock isn't a move counter. Stuff happens in time trouble (player moves, presses his clock but some pieces fall over, other clock is pressed so player can put the pieces back on their places, game continues).

ebutaljib's picture

I don't know what kind of clocks you people are using, but I never saw any other digital clock thatt I explained above. Of course the clock counts the moves and after it is presssed 40 times additional time is added.

The situation that you described (pressing the clock back) is illegal by the rules. If a player knocked down the pieves but pressed the clock before picking them up you should stop the clock and call the arbiter. He should then substract your opponents time or add few minutes to yours. That is the correct provedure. If you punch back the clock you are doing an illegal thing too. But yeah, I know such things happen on lower levels. And yes by doing that you screw up clocks move count, so the arbiter should correct that too.

Electronic clocks DO COUNT the moves.

ebutaljib's picture

Look at the video from candidates matches:

and watch how clock behaves when Grischuk plays his 40th move (3 hours and 52 minutes into the video) and when Gelfand makes his 40th move (3 hours and 55 mninutes into the video). In both cases one extra hour is added imediately. Grischuk had 35 seconds left but the timer imediatelly jumped to one hour when he pressed the clock. Gelfand had 2 minutes and something and when he pressed the clock after his 40th move he had 1 hour and 2 minutes on it. Exactly what I described.

I have never seen any electronic clock that wouldn't do this. I don't know where you people are living to have some strange clocks.

Tarjei's picture

That is absolutely correct.

Macauley's picture

The clock in Bilbao is set to add time automatically at move 40, NOT to run down to 0 regardless.

Christian's picture

Yes, they are using the DGT XL chess clock, and when Vallejo made his 40th move his display would show a "2" which means he made the control, while Nakamura's display would still show a "1" which means he has to make his 40th and last move.

TheSeaLettuce's picture

fair point!

ulix's picture

It's been inevitable: Carlsen makes Chucky suck on his pawn at will. In a couple more years he will become WC, and he will also be unstoppable for years to come.

Brian Smith's picture

NOT if he continues to refuse to play for the World Championship.

Navak's picture

Aronian soundly defeating the world champion in 25 moves deserves a mention here as interesting as the clock contraversy may be.

Zeblakob's picture

Things start to be clear for me who is the client of who.

Kevg64's picture

Good point, a great victory.

Anonymous's picture

Nakamura is one of the strongest rapid players alive - and in bullet (1 min.) he is LORD GAWD ALMIGHTY! Yet, he seems to be having a fit with the time controls which he knew about in advance. Why? There is a 30 second increment with each move. He is a professional - surely he has heard of time management. Everyone can't get away with managing their clock like Grischuk.

ebutaljib's picture

Don't make things up. There is no increment until move 40 in this tournament. And after that it is only 10 second increment.

Chris's picture

There is not a 30-second increment. Please read the rules before posting.

Anonymous's picture

You are correct. I assumed that FIDE rated tourneys carry a 30 second increment.

Tarjei's picture

You are not very experienced in OTB play, are you? A bullet game (online) is something entirely different from a time scramble in an over the board game.

Anonymous's picture

There is an old saying; "It's better to be lucky than good!" However Vallejo has been too lucky in this tournament, soo ... I think he is that good.

Anonymous's picture

There is an old saying; "It's better to be lucky than good!" However Vallejo has been too 'lucky' in this tournament, soo ... I think he is as good as his score.

redivivo's picture

Nakamura has played well in this tournament, the silly loss against Vallejo doesn't change that, and in the next tournament things will maybe go his way a bit more, he's a great player.

Chess Fan's picture

I agree. Win or loss, Nakamura is a fantastic player. I am not going to bash him, especially now.

Chess Fan's picture

Magnus has shown his class by beating Ivanchuk when required and beating the veteran genius 2-0 in this match.
I wonder what mental block Anand has over Aronian! I feel sorry for the World Champion. It is especially during such times that I want to stand strong by him as his fan.
Still, as a "Chess Fan" awesome chess by Magnus Carlsen and Aronian, two most likely successors to Anand.
Let us not forget local boy Vallejo's fantastic showing in this shark tank of super talent.


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