Reports | October 11, 2011 20:07

Carlsen beats Ivanchuk in blitz play-off, wins 4th Masters Final

Magnus Carlsen won the 4th Grand Slam Masters Final in Bilbao, Spain after beating Vassily Ivanchuk 1.5-0.5 in a blitz play-off. The two had finished shared first after drawing their last-round games. On the final day, Vishy Anand beat Francisco Vallejo.

Event 4th Grand Slam Masters Final  | PGN & Playoff 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 10 + play-off games

A great tournament deserves a great finish, and a great winner. On Tuesday the Grand Slam Masters Final in Bilbao got all this, with an exciting playoff match that had to determine whether Vassily Ivanchuk or Magnus Carlsen would take away the first prize. Both players had drawn their games relatively quickly, against Levon Aronian and Hikaru Nakamura respectively. The first game that ended in the last round was Ivanchuk-Aronian:

PGN string

Levon Aronian after the game:

I think Vassily was trying to play safe. I thought the exchange of bishops would be OK for me but later I realized I didn't have good squares for my pieces. I think the critical point was 16.Qb3, I had the feeling 16.Ng5 was the best try. It's not specatular, but slighty better for White. Of course I wouldn't be honest if I would say I would be entirely satisfied. I'm happy yhat in the last two rounds I was able to play better. I think I know what I have to do and I'll try to work on it.

Quickly afterwards Nakamura and Carlsen also called it a day. The two had played the old main line of the Tartakowe QGD, with its most famous example the 6th match game Fischer-Spassky, Reykjavik 1972. Nakamura:

Magnus played well. Black's plan of a7-a5-a4 was strong. The ending is about equal.

PGN string

About the incident in the penultimate round, Nakamura said:

It's already pretty well documented. That's chess: you play the game and things happen. But there's always tomorrow. You gotta move on, you can't really do much about what happened. Overall I'm pretty happy with how I played.

The third regular game in this round was Anand-Vallejo. It was a spectacular encounter, but not without mistakes.

PGN string

After the game we spoke to Anand, who said:

At some point I lost the thread completely. 19.bxc3 is one of these moves, yeah, I guess they say you cut your hand off before you make such a move. But OK, in this tournament this was not the worst game I played. That's probably the only consolation. I just played atrociously. I will try and do some work later; there's no point analyzing it already. About yesterday... some days your head just doesn't work. I more or less missed everything.

And so Ivanchuk and Carlsen had finished shared first, with 15 points out of 10 games. According to the regulations they had to play a 2-game blitz match with 4 minutes and 3 seconds increment on the clock (and if necessary an Armageddon game). This match started at 20.15 local time and was watched by hundreds of local spectators and in fact thousands more, as this playoff was broadcast live on Basque tv. It was a thrilling and memorable evening in the Alhondiga Bilbao!

In the first game at some point Carlsen won an exchange, but Ivanchuk defended well and escaped with a draw.

PGN string

In the second game Carlsen directed all his pieces towards his opponent's king. Ivanchuk could only defend, which was, in a way, more easy than finding the right way to attack. Therefore Ivanchuk had more time on the clock for most of the game. However, the position on the board was becoming just overwhelming for Black, and Ivanchuk had to resign at move 39, just before Black would cash on h3.

PGN string

Ivanchuk has just resigned after 39...Qg3+ - Carlsen is the winner of the tournament!

One could say that justice prevailed, because in the classical score Carlsen in fact already finished clear first in the tournament, and he also defeated Ivanchuk in both of their two mutual games. By the way, the playoff was not just about the title: in BIlbao the prizes (not disclosed, but similar to other big tournaments) are not shared.

Obviously the Norwegian was happy to add another big one to his growing list of tournament victories. To the organizers and the spectators he said:

Always happy to be in Bilbao. Normally I don't play well here but this time I did, so I'm happy!

Remarkably, at the closing ceremony one player was missing: Hikaru Nakamura. As it turned out, there had been some miscommunication between him and the organizers, and he simply didn't know it would be held at the venue. The American thought it would be at the hotel, where later that evening the players, journalists and others joined for a cocktail & pintxos party, which lasted until way after midnight. The fact that this (full) final report was posted a bit late on Wednesday, might have something to do with that... ;-)


Photos: Eva Zubero

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 ½-½ Aronian
Nakamura 1-0 Vallejo   Anand 1-0 Vallejo
Anand ½-½ Aronian   Nakamura ½-½ Carlsen

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 10 Standings (football)

1-2  Magnus Carlsen, Vassily Ivanchuk 15
3-5  Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand 12
  6  Francisco Vallejo 10

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 10 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.


Chris's picture

Wow, Magnus never ceases to amaze. Tore this win right out of Chucky's hands it seems like.

redivivo's picture

There's no denying that the right player won, Carlsen scored +2, Ivanchuk +1, Carlsen won both games against Ivanchuk, and he won the tiebreak as well. Third tournament win in a row by Carlsen and this was not a weak one either.

ulix's picture
Bob's picture

What a stupid comment.

Nima's picture

Second that.

Chess Fan's picture

I am fan of both Carlsen's brilliance and Chucky's genius and I strongly and respectfully disagree with your comment. So, third that.

anonymous's picture

Can ulix' comment please be deleted? its the second time ulix makes this unrespectful comment.

Torvald D.Hagen's picture

What a great tournament for Carlsen . He once again proves his worth .
I the last blitz game ,he managed to keep his cool .Ivanchuk was just
blitzing out moves in a vain attempt to keep Carlsen from having time to solve
a very promising position . The ability to change approach under stress , was evident when he withdrew his queen and changed to center play , which was the key to open the king side . Congrats to to Carlsen .

Michael Lubin's picture

Well, of course Ivanchuk was blitzing out moves. They were playing blitz!

Mort's picture

Great ending of a good tournament. So many good games and a fair share of drama!

Vipin's picture

Excellent display by Carlsen. So the 2800+ crowd is still limited to 3 players.

victorhdiaz's picture

Four! Don´t forget Kasparov, please..

victorhdiaz's picture

Four! Don´t forget Kasparov, please..

Al's picture

I'm relieved, I was very frustrated(upset even) by Carlsens start to the tournament and almost counted him out after his piece blunder, but when it counts no one can bounce back from disappointment and trouble like he can(except Kasparov of course!).

His rating may of only gone up a couple but the others in 2800 club have dropped quite a bit so he definitely stands out as the best now.

Hopefully this puts him in good steed for the London Classic in December, if he can achieve a good score there he'll be climbing up to Kasparov's record rating. I want him in the 2830s at least, can't wait!


ebutaljib's picture

Forget London, Tal Memorial is going to be the real deal. One of the strongest in history.

redivivo's picture

In spite of Gelfand being one of the participants :-)

ebutaljib's picture

Now you are just mean

Al's picture

didn't even realise this tournament was on, thanks for letting me know, thanks a lot!

for those interested, details here:

Tal Memorial 2011 Line-Up Announced
« News homeSubmitted by SonofPearl on Mon, 09/26/2011 at 2:49pm.
The Russian Chess Federation has announced the line-up for the 2011 Tal Memorial, and barring any late withdrawals it promises to be the tournament highlight of the year.

The 2011 Tal Memorial will run from 16-25 November in Moscow, and will feature 10 of the best players in the world in a single round-robin competition. There will be one rest day on 21 November, and games start at 15:00 local time (11:00 UTC), except the last round which is 3 hours earlier.

The full line-up with rankings on the official Sept 2011 list:

Name Nat Rank Elo
Magnus Carlsen NOR 1
Viswanathan Anand IND 2 2817
Levon Aronian ARM 3 2807
Vladimir Kramnik RUS 4 2791
Sergey Karjakin RUS 5 2772
Vassily Ivanchuk UKR 7 2765
Hikaru Nakamura USA 12 2753
Boris Gelfand ISR 15 2746
Peter Svidler RUS 16 2740
Ian Nepomniachtchi RUS 24 2718

stevefraser's picture

Thanks for the info.

columbo's picture

Awsome ! thanks for the info ! what a LIST !!!

Creemer's picture

Ik weet dat dit niet de plek is, maar misschien lees je het hier wel: hierboven staat een respectloze comment over Ivanchuk en Carlsen. Kan die niet weg?

Chess Fan's picture

Thanks for the info.
I am looking forward to Aronian Vs. Anand, besides all others.

redivivo's picture

Of course it will be the same old same old in Tal Memorial about some players being much better than their results because they need to save their best for next year. But then one could just as well expect Aronian to save the prep he used in Bilbao for the Candidates and so on.

victorhdiaz's picture

Moro deserves to be there. He is getting better and better. I guess he is already 2755 by now!

Anonymous's picture

Where is Topalov in this?

A40's picture

Where's Topalov ??

Abhi's picture

3-4 Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian 12
5 Vishy Anand 12

it should be

3-5 Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand 12

ebutaljib's picture

Actually it should be
1. Carlsen 15
2. Ivanchuk 15
3. Nakamura 12
4. Aronian 12
5. Anand 12
6. Vallejo 10

First tie-breaker was traditional scoring (that doesn't separate players on 12 points) and 2nd tie-breaker was the result between those three. Here Nakamura scored +1 =3 -0 draws, Aronian +1 =2 -1 and Anand +0 =3 -1

So the order is OK.

ebutaljib's picture

Ignore the word "draws"

lefier's picture

Well deserved by Carlsen who is now back on track, and number 1 by most measures.
Nakamura proves his position among the very best players, and will now be invited to any top tournament.
Ivanchuk is Ivanchuk, excellent and then not, but must always be reckoned with.
Vallejo must be satisfied with the tournament, - Anand and Aronian perhaps less so.
Entertaining tournament at very high level.

Thomas's picture

Nakamura was already invited "everywhere" this year, and didn't do as well in Bazna and Dortmund. If Bilbao results decide who should be invited in the future, Carlsen (for whom it's already the case) and Ivanchuk should also get 'any' invitation. Also Anand and Aronian? They were tied with Nakamura, for them it's a slight deception because they already had achieved more in the past.

As most supertournaments have just six players including one local wildcard, there would be no spots left for anyone else?? Poor Svidler, poor Morozevich (currently leading Saratov with 3.5/4), poor Giri, poor Vachier-Lagrave, etc. etc. etc. ... . And for chess fans, it might get boring to see the very same players in every single event.

Szoker's picture

I knew that Carlsen is gonna win it anyways...

he always does that. (well almost always)

Slow start, and then killing everybody. GJ both !

Axel Müller's picture

Again so many draws ;)

Alex's picture

Is there somewhere a translation (or transcript) of interview with Arturo Perez Reverte from the Bilbao site?

Stanley Peters's picture

Fabulous stuff from Carlsen! Many many congratulations!

KingTal's picture

Vallejo is man of the tournament, but how did he manage to draw that game?

BlunderSuck's picture

WHO is the BOSS?!

Septimus's picture

Although Anand has had a dreadful tournament, one can't help but reflect on what Kramnik said about Anand's excellence in deploying Knights in his win over Pons.

Chess Fan's picture

Appreciate your comment Septimus.

Bobby Fiske's picture

I hope José Diaz will draw a cartoon from Bilbao!

Pablo's picture

Me too. I can't wait! No, ¡no puedo esperar!

Daniel's picture

Congrats to Carlsen! However, also congrats to Chucky! He is always a garantee for excitment, amazing chess, and drama. Let's not forget that he has been playing chess for almost 2 months non-stop with great performances

akim gettings's picture

i think this tournament was a eye opener i knew carlsen was going to pick up steam he is a unstoppable force i am very happy to see him take it to another level but the best thing is he has not even reached his full potential i see him just getting stronger and stronger great job magnus.

akim gettings's picture

i think this tournament was a eye opener i knew carlsen was going to pick up steam he is a unstoppable force i am very happy to see him take it to another level but the best thing is he has not even reached his full potential i see him just getting stronger and stronger great job magnus.

saheed saibu's picture

congrats carlsen, u are really great. chess ruler for many years to come.

JP's picture
Anonymous's picture

So for how long are you going to keep advertising your site here?

Tom T's picture

I'm glad for Ivanchuk for sticking it out and finishing at least second. Ivanchuk is made of iron!

welwitchia's picture

Despite the achievements and failures of all the other great players,I am a big Moro fan. I think he is the most special and original player out there.

The title of Genius belongs to him not chucky


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