Reports | October 09, 2012 20:09

Bilbao: Carlsen wins again, now tied for first place with Caruana

In Tuesday's seventh round of the Masters Final in Bilbao Magnus Carlsen won again. The Norwegian grandmaster beat Francisco Vallejo, and now shares first place with Fabiano Caruana, who drew his game with Sergey Karjakin. The encounter between Levon Aronian and Vishy Anand also ended in a draw. Wednesday is a rest day.

Vallejo resigns his game against Magnus Carlsen | Photos courtesy of the Masters Final

Event 5th Grand Slam Masters Final | PGN via TWIC
Dates October 8-13, 2012
Location Bilbao, Spain
System 6-player round robin
Players Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, Sergey Karjakin, Fabiano Caruana, Paco Vallejo
Rate of play

90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 60 minutes for the remaining moves with a 10-second increment

Extra 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.

He had a bit of a slow start in Brazil, but in Bilbao the world's number one needed just two rounds to make up for that. After beating Vallejo in 43 moves on Tuesday, Carlsen caught Caruana in first place as the Italian drew his game with Karjakin. During the rest day, the "two Cs" have 12 points which is 3 more than Levon Aronian. The Masters Final is starting to look a lot like the 2011 edition, when Carlsen also made a comeback in the second half (and emerged as the winner). 

Carlsen now joint first with Caruana

Contrary to what the official press release writes, Carlsen did not "raise" the "so-called 'Winawere variant' of the french opening." Instead, the Norwegian avoided the heavy Winawer theory by taking on d5 on the 4th move, transposing into the Exchange Variation. He said:

I wanted to avoid the most theoretical lines and besides I think it's possible to fight for a small advantage even in this variation.

The early middlegame started quietly, but soon thing got more complicated when White directed his pieces towards the opponent's king. Vallejo got into slight timetrouble and then made two inaccuracies which decided the game.

PGN string

The final phase of the game Carlsen vs Vallejo

Caruana dropped two points as he couldn't break through Karjakin's defensive setup in a Berlin Ending. The Russian GM said something typical of top level chess these days:

It's one of the most critical lines in the Berlin. Of course I analysed it a lot but as there are many lines, I could not remember which was the best line for Black. 

PGN string

Did Vishy Anand ever play seven draws in a row? We'll leave that to our readers to sort out, but it does start to look like a personal record for the Indian.

Update: as Sigvat notes, the first eight games of the 1995 PCA World Championship Match Kasparov-Anand were all drawn. But in a tournament?

We'd like to add that it doesn't really say much: many top players play tournaments with lots of draws these days. But OK, at least the "fans" have something to talk about...

PGN string

Aronian said about the game:

I thought I had pressure, I was happy to receive this position. I think I was not playing accurately and as in previous encounters with Vishy, if you don't play accurately, that's his strength, he neutralizes very well.

I had the feeling I had to go for g4 in many places, but I couldn't work it out. Somehow Black is in time, in my calculations. I thought perhaps it's a better idea to slowly put pressure on my opponent but maybe I went too slow at times.

Wednesday is a rest day in Bilbao. At the press conference Vallejo said that there would be a football match in the morning. On Twitter Karjakin mentioned that he was planning to join "if he didn't oversleep", while Aronian had something else in mind.

If the weather is good I'll try and go see one of the beaches here, maybe even swim. I know you guys don't swim right now, but for somebody born in a cold climate it's alright!

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Schedule & results

Round 1 24.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 6 08.10.12 17:00 CET
Anand 1-1 Vallejo   Vallejo 1-1 Anand
Aronian 3-0 Karjakin   Karjakin 1-1 Aronian
Caruana 3-0 Carlsen   Carlsen 3-0 Caruana
Round 2 25.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 7 09.10.12 17:00 CET
Vallejo 0-3 Carlsen   Carlsen 3-0 Vallejo
Karjakin 0-3 Caruana   Caruana 1-1 Karjakin
Anand 1-1 Aronian   Aronian 1-1 Anand
Round 3 26.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 8 11.10.12 17:00 CET
Aronian 1-1 Vallejo   Vallejo - Aronian
Caruana 1-1 Anand   Anand - Caruana
Carlsen 1-1 Karjakin   Karjakin - Carlsen
Round 4 28.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 9 12.10.12 17:00 CET
Caruana 3-0 Vallejo   Karjakin - Vallejo
Carlsen 1-1 Aronian   Carlsen - Anand
Karjakin 1-1 Anand   Caruana - Aronian
Round 5 29.09.12 20:00 CET   Round 10 13.10.12 16:30 CET
Vallejo 1-1 Karjakin   Vallejo - Caruana
Anand 1-1 Carlsen   Aronian - Carlsen
Aronian 1-1 Caruana   Anand - Karjakin

Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 7 standings (football)


Grand Slam Masters Final 2012 | Round 7 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

S3, the "many" referred to the number of bad days, afa I understood it.

Septimus's picture

Where did I write anything about Carlsen haters?

bondegnasker's picture

"... yet bondegnasker, Septimus, Guillame, Arkan, Rogge and you all manage to think and write about those evil haters."

I wrote about haters? Really? What on Earth gave you that idea? :-)

cipria's picture

Since Vishy is past his prime, is there any emerging player like him from India?

kolaveri's picture

Koneru humpy is number 1 player fro India

chill's picture

If sofia rule is applied why Anand aronian agreed to draw before 40 moves?

Thomas's picture

The rule states that "Players are not allowed to agree to a draw without the arbiter’s permission". Apparently the arbiter is strong enough (Elo 1800 may suffice) to realize that this opposite-colored bishops ending is dead drawn: even Carlsen (or an engine) cannot win it against any GM, even Vallejo on a bad day cannot lose ...

celso's picture

Go Valejo... Two draws against the World Champion! Bravo!!

RealityCheck's picture

I got a chance to meet Valejo when he was working with Anand. My gut feeling back then was he's a better second than he is a player.
He may get a top ten scalp every blue moon, hold a theoretical converstion 20+ moves deep, even secure a draw against the world champion but , it's more likley he'll lose a won or drawn game against the top dogs.

KVB's picture

If Anand is trying for a desperate draw here, then his opponents are unable to pull a win from Anand at any cost. So, you may need to think why his opponents are settling for a draw against Anand. Was it the incapability of Carlsen, Aronian to make a win against Anand? :)

RG13's picture

Well he didn't hold the World Championship so long because he is a weak player. However his fans want him to win a tournament now and then.

Sigvat's picture

RE: "Did Vishy Anand ever play seven draws in a row?" That one's easy, the first eight games of the 1995 PCA world championship match against Kasparov were all drawn.

RealityCheck's picture

Sometime it takes Anand awhile to warm up. Let's see if he adopts a different approach to the last leg of this exhibition tournee. Up to now he's been solid as a rock!

Anonymous's picture

@'Reality Check' ;-)

Believe it or not, Anand is far beyond his peak as a chess player, as he thoroughly demonstated for the past 2 years. This simple fact naturally doesn't diminish all his extraordinary past achievements (including world titles) in any way. He will be remembered as one of the true greats of chess.

He is also a most excellent and modest person. However, taking into account the quality of your posts (or rather the lack thereof), I presume Anand would almost certainly shy away from being related to your ridiculous fan-boyism. Probably anybody would.

abhi's picture

your assessment of Reality Check is perfect. I m a big fan of Anand, but i measure his performances objectively. If he s playing bad, he s playing bad....what is this fan boyism...

Cyric Renner's picture

The only think that stands out Anand is that he was Kasparov's whipping boy and basically inherited the WC by default.

If I was a tournament organizer, given their is no fight left in him, I would not invite him to tournaments.

RG13's picture

Your statement is moot since he went on to win a match against the player that defeated Kasparov in a match. That makes him a legit champion.

Anonymous's picture

@Cyric Renner.
It is very clear that you neither like anand or anand's style of play(including his peak period performance).Then why are still following up anand's game and commenting on the same .It will be better if you stop following anand's game and focus on ur wish list player and comment about them.
What do u mean by inherited the WC by default? Did'nt he defeat kramink who defeated kasparov.
If you don't like A player it is your problem, not problem of others.

RealityCheck's picture


Thomas's picture

More recently, he scored an unbeaten 4.5/9 in Tal Memorial 2011 - to continue with two draws in the first rounds of London.

But on their own, such statistics do not necessarily mean much: this year, Topalov started Tata Steel with six consecutive draws (then a loss, then two more draws). In the same tournament, van Wely had ten draws in a row. In both cases, it doesn't mean that they didn't try to win, only that they didn't manage.

redivivo's picture

Anand drew the last four in the title match, so he has eleven draws in a row at the moment. In Tal Memorial 2011/London 2011/Gelfand 2012/Grand Slam final 2012 Anand has scored:

+2 -2 =32

The two wins came against Short, and then the one where Gelfand blundered in the opening and lost the shortest game ever in a title match.

Creemer's picture

I counted three typos, by casually reading the report. Please be a bit more accurate, CV!

Martin O'Grady's picture

Anand drew all nine of his games at the Tal Memorial in 2011 !

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, isnt that what we would expect from a world champion? A newbie might dare wondering though if a world champion can also win at least some of his games? ;-)

silvakov's picture

Besides Tal Memorial 2011, Anand also drew his first 9 games in Corus 2010 (last tourney before becoming Tata Steel). He eventually won 2 out of his 4 last games to finish +2. So he's not going for a record: he's just getting into a very boring habit.
Redivivo counted his draws just for those last 4 events, but my guess is this trend is much "worse" if we go back a little further...

Thomas's picture

"my guess is this trend is much "worse" if we go back a little further..."
silvakov guesses, I checked. Anand-bashers like to ignore four consecutive events in late 2010 to January 2011 where Vishy did well: Bilbao 2010 +1=5, Nanjing 2010 +3=6-1, London 2010 +2=5, Tata Steel 2011 +4=9.
Going back to 2008/2009, there is Corus 2008 (+3=9-1), Linares 2008 (+4=9-1), Linares 2009 (+2=10-2) and Tal Memorial 2009 (+2=6-1). Overall at least no sign that things are 'worse' going further back in time!?

abhi's picture

Dear Mr Reality Check,

Since you took the liberty to reply to Comment in the Previous Round...and use such high profile words as Baloney and Shame (5 times). I d also like to humbly reply to the attitude you are carrying as i see from your various Posts.

Here are my comments and i hope you ll take them in the Best of spirits without considering them to be a personal Attack on Your good self.

1. What i meant by my Post was simply that Anand is playing boring chess, mostly relying on Opening Preperation and that he is afraid of losing so he does not take enough risks even in 3 1 0 tournament. where 1 win and 1 loss is more valuable that 2 draws.

2. Since you took the liberty to comment on me, i have one observation of my own which i see from your comments. It seems to me that you are unnecessarily jelous of Magnus Carlsen and you just can t appreciate the kid who s jst 21 and has accomplished a lot.

3. It also seems to me that you lose objectivity in your blind support for Anand which i don t. I ve been his supportor...but if he plays bad, i see objectively...same way...its not that i am the biggest fan of Magnus. But if he s playing intersting chess, be it avoiding thoretical lines to win, i appreciate.

4. I sincerely hope you d give up this habit, and look at chess more rationally, then you d not be jelous of any particular player and love the beautiful game.

Cheers and Peace !!!

RealityCheck's picture

Dear Mrs. abhi,

don't be offended but, I think you are full of ....

That high profile word won't be hard to guess. It'll only be used once. Still I'd like to address the 4 mickey mouse points you had the gall to pen.

1. Here you repeat only what you hear others say: the punch lines are: "boring chess", "opening prep", "fear of losing", "risk averse" etc etc. You're nothing but a parrot. You tweet?

2. Really, you should re-read the comments. Maybe you shd enroll in a reading comprehension class and review psychology 101. You're not getting it.

3. Anand supporter?? Here, you remind me of a traitor. No, an impostor.

4. Give up what habit? See point no.: 2.


Anonymous's picture

@abhi, your are a God.

Anonymous's picture

Don't try to bang your head to wall. Just chill, ignore n move on.

RealityCheck's picture

@ Anonymous Here we frown on anti-semetic comments. BTW, you're not as anonym as you might think. Remember that.

Anonymous's picture

Sorry boss. My comment was intended for abhi. However, i failed to understand what part of my comment was anti-semetic and same time doesn’t want your comment again explaining. So peace n STOP.

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous's picture

This self-declared "Reality Check"-er is obviously a lost case. We'll have to bear with him like we have to with irremediable nuisances in our lives. Let's just save energy enjoy him babbling.

redivivo's picture

Didn't he just call Carlsen a Homo erectus playing coffeehouse chess? And for some reason he gets very upset if someone says that Anand hasn't been impressive lately :-)

abhi's picture

Dear Mr Reality Check,

As you can see, most pple are supporting may be its time for you to do a reality Check !!! for yourself. I was reading some of the posts....before...and 1 person commented...that even Vishy would shy away from your fanboyism..... i think that post describes you aptly.....

i would still suggest you to view chess objectively and not be biased towards 1 person (Anand in this case)...... and if you think i m full of .... (whatever you meant) just because i speak the truth....then perhaps i am full of ..... ;)

abhi's picture

And as for point number 2, it does not take a sherlock to figure out you are jelous of can ask anyone on this forum and they can perhaps enlighten you..... :).

Thomas's picture

To put the negativity about Anand in context: noone, or hardly anyone would suggest that Aronian is past his prime, yet he also has a pretty drawish tournament - only one win against Karjakin, and that game could have ended with a forced and quite spectacular draw. Three games by Aronian were also rather routine draws (both games against Anand and the second one against Karjakin). He missed wins against Carlsen (who declined the Berlin ending and subsequently got away with a blunder) and Caruana but almost ended up worse against Vallejo.

There were three reasons for decisive games:
- Carlsen and Caruana traded wins, which helps both due to football scoring (I don't mean to imply that this was done on purpose).
- Who played Karjakin early in the event before he found his form?
- Who found a recipe against Vallejo? Carlsen's approach won't suit everyone - you have to be used to playing harmless openings. And this approach doesn't always work, for example not against Giri in Wijk aan Zee this year ("bad luck" for Carlsen that he faced Giri before he collapsed at the end of the event?). Caruana was "lucky" that Vallejo blundered in a sharp variation, while holding against other players under similar conditions.

redivivo's picture

"hardly anyone would suggest that Aronian is past his prime, yet he also has a pretty drawish tournament - only one win against Karjakin"

Isn't there some difference there? Aronian has only won one game in this tournament, but in Wijk he won seven (7!) games and the tournament with a big margin. He won against Caruana and Nakamura in Tal Memorial and won first board gold in the Olympiad. This year alone he has won in classical chess against Kramnik, twice against Karjakin, Ivanchuk, twice against Caruana, Nakamura, Gashimov, twice with black against Giri, Kamsky, Gelfand, Vallejo, Naiditsch, etc. Hard to see the comparison with Anand there.

Thomas's picture

I was talking about this particular ongoing tournament, and do not question that Aronian showed overall better form than Anand (and most other players) recently - even if a complete picture also includes his losses against Carlsen, Navara, twice against Kramnik, McShane and Morozevich. As Tal Memorial doesn't have football scoring, his final 4.5/9 was the same as Anand's result last year. If Anand had played as many events as Aronian - without worrying about a WCh match (Gelfand demonstrated in London that he isn't a pushover as people predicted beforehand) - he might have scored at least a few more wins?

redivivo's picture

Well, you meant that the negative comments about Anand's chess the last years were placed in context by the fact that hardly anyone claims that Aronian is past his peak because he only won one game here this far. But he also missed two wins and this is still just one event, so considering his excellent results throughout the year and his being less then three points from his career high Elo it seems strange to wonder why few consider him to be past his peak.

Thomas's picture

I was referring to Anand's _current_ tournament which is just slightly worse than Aronian's. Anand can still catch up with him - I don't rule out that he wins at least one of his remaining games. Different from what others assume, I don't think he lacks ambition, things just didn't go his way (yet?).

Applying high standards for a player of Aronian's class, it isn't all true that he had excellent results _throughout_ the year: 50% at Tal Memorial must have been a slight disappointment, and he also won't be all happy with Sao Paulo/Bilbao so far - exactly because he missed two wins.

Nor was "Anand's chess the last years" all bad: repeating myself, four consecutive second places in supertournaments late 2010/early 2011 were bad only for people with a winner takes it all mentality. Preparing for WCh matches did affect his play in some tournaments - we don't know yet how Aronian (and Carlsen) would/will cope with such a situation!

redivivo's picture

"I was referring to Anand's _current_ tournament which is just slightly worse than Aronian's"

One can't just say about every tournament that it's just one tournament no matter how many of them that come in a row, and mean that it's strange that no one thinks that Aronian is past it because players supposedly should be judged based on the ongoing tournament only (where Aronian still has played much better than Anand).

"Nor was "Anand's chess the last years" all bad: repeating myself, four consecutive second places in supertournaments late 2010/early 2011 were bad only for people with a winner takes it all mentality"

Between January 2011 and October 2012 is close to two years. I don't think results two years back or more say much about Anand's current form, especially not considering that Aronian's form apparently is to be judged by his seven games here only, where he had winning positions in three games even if he only won one this far.

"Preparing for WCh matches did affect his play in some tournaments - we don't know yet how Aronian (and Carlsen) would/will cope with such a situation!"

Anand says that he didn't play any tournament while preparing for matches the last years, and that he is trying his hardest to win games in all of them. I seriously doubt that Carlsen or Aronian would be unable to win games if they had a match against Gelfand some time in the distant past or future. Looking at the results of all players that played title matches the last 20 years most of them had great results in tournaments before the matches.

I think Anand is past it (and that Aronian isn't), but I would certainly like to be proved wrong about Anand. He has been a great player for more than 20 years, but lately he hasn't reminded of the guy in 2007-08 that was on a totally different level.

Anonymous's picture

"Caruana was "lucky" that Vallejo blundered in a sharp variation, while holding against other players under similar conditions."

Maybe, but definitely Caruana was "lucky" in the sense that Carlsen made one if his very rare blunders in heavy time trouble in their first game, thus not converting a winning position. Hadn't he blundered, he would now be leading by 3 points.
Anand never got close to a winning position in any of his games here.

redivivo's picture

"Hadn't he blundered, he would now be leading by 3 points"

Six points even.

Thomas's picture

"Caruana won because Carlsen blundered" is IMO a gross simplification of what (all) happened in their first game, namely
- Carlsen was worse, maybe close to lost out of the opening (which Caruana failed to exploit)
- Carlsen then got an advantage, but - objectively spoken - probably not enough to win
- Looking for a win that may not have been there he got himself into heavy time trouble - self-inflicted and arguably "a blunder before he blundered"
- Then Caruana played a risky continuation (objectively a blunder as much as Carlsen's response) which then became "a brilliant blunder".
Never mind that many journalists (including Peter Doggers) came up with such a 'simplified' summary of the game, completely ignoring the opening phase.

"Carlsen made one of his very rare blunders ..." - depending on what counts as a blunder, it isn't THAT rare: In Wijk aan Zee, he made a mistake and lost against Karjakin. In the first rounds of Tal Memorial, he misplayed the opening against Kramnik and Morozevich but escaped with draws. In Sao Paulo he also blundered against Aronian and was "lucky" that Levon returned the favor. That's five blunders in 47 rated games - only those I readily remember, there may be more.

WD's picture

Is it so difficult to come up with something to say about the actual games, really? What's the purpose of this back-and-forth? Several of these comments are just embarrassing.

xyz's picture
Mohit Sharma's picture

There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Anand. When he had won the WC in tournament format, there were a huge number of comments of how tournaments didn't count/matches separate men from boys. Now it is about his lack of tournament wins.
There are some Anand fans who are disappointed they not see him winning. But most posters are just negative of him out of spite. One can count Kasparov among these. Chess doesn't polish our soul.

Anand has won his WC titles fair and square. Before that he slugged it out in the candidates cycles. He has a zero tantrum personality, which distances him from fans.

It appears, his current chess style is to go for either decisive advantage through short combinations, or go for equality. His favourite chess player being Tal also indicates this. However with a crowd of talented and prepared opponents, going for long periods of incremental advantage in a game may be expedient.

Morley's picture

I don't think people are criticizing Anand's career, but his tournament play of the last 2 years or so. Anand of course deserves the WC title, and he is one of the strongest players in history. He very well may be past his prime, though, considering his lack of teeth in the Gelfand match, and his apparent disinterest in winning tournaments he plays in. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, all players fizzle out eventually. But nothing will take away the fact that in his prime he was one of the modern greats, and that he is multiple times over a World Champion.


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