Reports | October 05, 2011 17:33

Masters Final: Bilbao part officially opened, tournament resumes tomorrow

Masters Final: Bilbao part officially opened, tournament resumes tomorrow

On Wednesday the second leg of the Grand Slam Masters Final was officially opened in Bilbao, Spain. Five of the six players were present - Vassily Ivanchuk, who was robbed on Monday in Sau Paulo, arrives in Bilbao on Wednesday and has informed the organizers that he wants to play his game against Nakamura on Thursday, 'without privileges'.

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.

Bilbao opening ceremony

Today the opening ceremony of the Masters Final's second half was held at the Melia Hotel in Bilbao. Present were the Councillor Delegate for the Euskera Area, Youth and Sports of the Bilbao City Hall, Sabin Anunzita, Technical Director of the tournament Juan Carlos Fernández and five of the six participants of the Final - Vassily Ivanchuk couldn't make it in time.

Like last year, the venue in Bilbao will be the Alhóndiga Bilbao, an old wine storehouse designed by Ricardo Bastida (1909). It's a 43.000m² space opened in May 2010, aiming to become the city's new engine of leisure and culture. And like in Sao Paulo, the players will be playing their games in a soundproof glass booth in full view of the public. This glass room measures 8 x 8 m and is 3.5m high, weighing 8 tonnes.

Players' reactions

At the opening ceremony the players were asked about their chances in the remainder of the tournament, and about their opinion of the football scoring system. Here's the video from the organizers, and below a transcript of what the players answered.

Magnus Carlsen:

Truthfully I'm not at all concerned with who will win the tournament, really. I'm just trying to do my best and try to win it myself, so... that's about all I can say. Of course now Ivanchuk is in the lead but anything can happen. And I think especially in situations like this the Bilbao scoring system with three points for a win and one for a draw is interesting, because it makes the tournament more dynamic and it's easier to catch up from a deficit.

Hikaru Nakamura:

OK, I think I have to agree with Magnus quite a bit in regards to the tournament. I think all of us are very strong, we're all very close in points, so pretty much anything can happen. I know for myself I certainly would like to win this tournament but it's gonna come down to who has the best nerves and who plays the best here in the final playing rounds. As far as the points scoring system is concerned, I think actually with the three points for the win and one for the draw, it makes it a lot more exciting, because certain players can lose some games, but if you win a couple of games at the end it suddenly all turns around very quickly. I'm not sure what to think of the scoring system overall but for this event in particular it keeps it much more exciting till the final round. Thank you.

Levon Aronian:

I think this tournament is kind of really spectacular and very important for the world of chess. Of course I guess any player would want to be the winner here. Since I think the tournament started not so bad for me, less than I expected, but I still think I'll be one of the players who'll be trying to compete. Regarding to the second question: I'm not a big fan of this but if some people like it... if in the opinion of the organizers the three points for a win makes the chess more interesting, I'm glad to be a part of it.

Paco Vallejo replied in Spanish, so what follows is our translation.

Ivanchuk is the leader with a certain margin and that's why I think he's relatively the favourite. For me it didn't go so well, I haven't had much luck but the games were good fights and I'm going to try to recover a bit here. Regarding the three-point rule: I think that strictly speaking it's unjust, but also more interesting. Perhaps sometimes we need to sacrifice a bit of 'devine justice' to get to a tournament that's more interesting for the spectators, more dynamic, more fun.

Vishy Anand, who also replied in Spanish:

Regarding the tournament, well, there are five more rounds to go and so it's difficult to make a prognosis, especially taking into account the system of the Bilbao rule. So everything is still uncertain and I think there will be a big fight until the end.

Photographic Exhibition

Coinciding with the tournament, metro passengers can view the history of this great sporting event through images. A photographic exhibition entitled “Bilbao mueve pieza" (Bilbao moves pieces) traces the evolution of the tournament since 1999 when it was in its infant stages as a modest competition organized by a group of chess fans from Bilbao, to 2010 when it definitively became one of the foremost chess events in the world. The exhibition, made up of a total of 12 large panels measuring 2.31 by 1.3 metres, will be in place from October 6 at the Indautxu (Urquijo exit) and Moyúa (Diputación exit) stations.

The photographic retrospective shows the transformation of the tournament from a modest chess festival promoted by the Bilbao E4 Chess Sporting Club until becoming the Grand Slam Final in 2008 and consolidating its expansion as an even more internation franchise in Shanghai in 2010. In the 36 photographs comprising the exhibit, stellar chess moments are captured, such as the blind duel between Veselin Topalov and Judit Polgar; the historic battle between World Champion Viswanathan Anand and the number one player in the world ranking, Magnus Carlsen (a duel that will again take place in this 4th edition); or the visit of such mythical former World Champions as Anatoly Karpov and Boris Spassky, stars of many of the most significant matches in chess history.

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 - Nakamura
Anand ½-½ Carlsen   Carlsen - Anand
Aronian 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo - Aronian
Round 2 27.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 7 07.10.11 16:00 CET
Ivanchuk 1-0 Vallejo   Vallejo - Ivanchuk
Carlsen ½-½ Aronian   Aronian - Carlsen
Nakamura ½-½ Anand   Anand - Nakamura
Round 3 28.09.11 20:00 CET   Round 8 08.10.11 16:00 CET
Anand 0-1 Ivanchuk   Ivanchuk - Anand
Aronian ½-½ Nakamura   Nakamura - Aronian
Vallejo 1-0 Carlsen   Carlsen - 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 5 Standings (football)

1  Vassily Ivanchuk 10
2  Hikaru Nakamura 7
3-5  Levon Aronian, Vishy Anand, Magnus Carlsen 6
6  Francisco Vallejo 3

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Round 5 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.


Carl Lumma's picture

Go Ivanchuk!

RealityCheck's picture

Go Anand!!

theeagle1's picture

Go Carlsen!!

columbo's picture

Naka answer is really agressive ! Don't think Carlsen liked that ! it's gonna be hot ...

chessdrummer's picture

I think you are reading things that are not there.

columbo's picture

Like what mister ???

Zeblakob's picture

I do not understand Nakaniki, once he compared himself with Fischer and now with MC.

S3's picture

Where does Nakaniki compare himself with Karlson? I missed that part I'm afraid.

But I do like the answers of Aronian and Pons who dare give a genuine valuation of the football scoring system (unfair but possibly entertaining). You'd expect more players to do so especially the ones who complain about fair chances in other tournaments and cycles.

jsy's picture

Isn't it obvious? Nakamura never compared himself to Carlsen. Neither did he compare himself to Fischer. Just figments of anti-fans' imagination. Heh heh!

S3's picture

Zebla iz no anti fan but may be mistaken this time.

Zeblakob's picture

I should be mistaken this time coz I read a lot between the lines.

ebutaljib's picture

Between the lines is an empty space so whatever you are reading there is a product of your mind and nothing else.

Zeblakob's picture

Most of the matter and energy of the universe came from the empty space(dark matter and dark energy).
Again, most of the wight of the proton came from the empty space also (Nobel Phys. 2004). What we can read between the lines (empty space, as y said) makes sense.
Compiler programs however just read the lines (as y do).

ebutaljib's picture

"Dark matter" and "dark energy" are just two made up terms that make the current theory hold together. Nobody has ever "seen" or otherwise measured the "dark matter" and "dark energy".

It's the same with your reading between the lines - you just make up things that hold your "theory" together.

earth's picture

I love the universal game of chess. But I think it is decadent that this tournament is done on two sides of the globe. The needed airplanes for this are polluting our precious earth. Probably has to do with the Holy Money that seems to be more precious to some people. Am I the only one who thinks this??

S3's picture

Many think like that but few act like it.

  brecht's picture

you got a good point ....stick to one town for chess tournament...players also get jetlagged!

Rini Luyks's picture

No doubt the games will be much more interesting than this press conference.
What a bore!

Al F's picture

That's the word, unfair. This scoring system makes it possible to win the tournament scoring +3 (6.5 chess points) in front of someone with +4 (7 chess points). How?

+4 =6 gives 18 football points. (7 points, +4)
+5 =3 -2 gives 18 football points (6.5, +3)
+6 =1 -3 gives 19 football points (6.5, +3)

If it wasn't the main scoring system it would make a great tie-break. In my opinion, in chess tournaments, +4 should always beat +3

ebutaljib's picture

Fair, unfair - is debatable.

The whole purpose of this scoring system is to award wins more than anything else. And that it does perfectly as your example shows (the one with 6 wins would be ahead of those with 5 or 4 wins)

lefier's picture

Fair or unfair?
If you like to play solid, not taking to much risk and wait for your opporunities to come to you, you will characterize the rules as unfair.
On the other hand, if you like to play aggresively and take some risk, you will say the rules are fair.
And from an entertaining point of view: no doubt more interesting with these rules.

S3's picture

I wouldn't consider Aronian risk averse or non agressive, yet he clearly considers these rules not just. Fair is not that what makes your chances of succes bigger, at least not to all grandmasters.

Harish Srinivasan's picture

Well you can get even more crazy. They can consider giving no points to either players for a draw. So 1 pt for win and thats it. From one perspective, a draw is as good as loss, so may be they will push. From another perspective, draw is slightly better than loss since you make sure your opponent also get 0 pts. But in a tournament say of 10 rounds somebody who scores 2 wins and 8 losses (thats -6) wins over someone who wins 1 game and 9 draws. So people might sacrifice left and right to win because who care if you draw or lose. So is that even better for spectators. No its just crazy. The football scoring is just a milder version of my proposed craziness.

ebutaljib's picture

1867 Paris used exactly this craziness.

ebutaljib's picture

Here are some different systems used in the history:
1862 London
1867 Paris
1873 Vienna
1883 London
1901 Monte Carlo

Anonymous's picture

What would happen if they gave 0 for a loss, 1 for a draw and only 2.5 points for a win; would that work out?

WladK's picture

Well, may be the system is not completely stupid. But when in the tournaments like this they use the number of wins as the first tie-break that is really rediculous, since they penalize those who have more classical points!!!

ebutaljib's picture

What are you talking about?

The tie-breaks are:
1. "classical" score.
2. Head-to-head
3. Koya
4. Sonneborn-Berger

If tied for 1st, there will be two blitz games, and if necessary armageddon.

Thomas's picture

Maybe he was talking about London which does have double Bilbao rules: football scoring and most wins as (first) tiebreaker - hence a tie-creater then becomes a tiebreaker. If his near-namesake VladK had beaten Carlsen last year (which was the logical result of their game), he would still have finished in second place because Carlsen's +4-3 would have been "better" than Kramnik's +3=3-1.

Rama G's picture

Which is exactly why tweaking the scoring system by reducing the weight of wins to 2.5 would be such a good idea. There is still the incentive to win because two draws are not worth quite as much as a win BUT you don't end with a ridiculous result.
With such scoring, +3=3-1 will edge out +4=0-3 as it should.

redivivo's picture

"If his near-namesake VladK had beaten Carlsen last year (which was the logical result of their game)"


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