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.


hasq's picture

In this day and age, where games are relayed automatically through the internet it seems absurd that players still are forced to write their scoresheet. Add to the fact that the players have no increment or delay it makes it even more absurd.

As I understand it the clocks do not automatically add an hour after forty moves, but rather the initial time expires and only then adds the hour. Is this the best FIDE has to offer in 2011?

In any case an unfortunate event. Hikaru I think has responded very admirably on his infamous Twitter.

Hikaru Nakamura
@GMHikaru Hikaru Nakamura
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.

ebutaljib's picture

Your understandings of the clocks is wrong.

hasq's picture

I have it on good authority that my understanding is correct. Clock counts to 0, then adds the hour. How else would this mistake happen anyway?

Macauley's picture

The clock CAN be set as you describe, but in this case it was not -- it adds the time at move 40 and begins using increment. There's no increment in first time control, so the clock has to know the move number. The move number is not displayed, but the time is added automatically.

Remco Gerlich's picture

It's correct, actually. You can see on the photographs on the site that they use DGT XLs (as most top tournaments do, since they work with the DGT digital boards), and they have that feature.

ebutaljib's picture

Plese look at this video from the candidates to see how the clcok works (5 hours and 50 minutes into the video)

Gelfand has something like 2 minutes then he makes his 40th move and now has 1 hour and 2 minutes. And that is eaxctly how all the clocks I ever seen work. I have no idea where you people are all from to use some strange clocks that don't add time when they have to.

ebutaljib's picture

Sorry, thats 3 hours and 50 minutes into the video.

Tarjei's picture

You are wrong there.

According to FIDE rules, players with less than 5 minutes on the clock, do not have to write their moves. This is basic knowledge for all tournament players.

Regarding the notation of the games, it is the same for all FIDE rated tournaments, regardless of whether it is covered live or not. Players are obliged to keep score. The players can not rely on digital boards, which can be wrong, digital boards can crash etc.

And yes, the digital clocks do not add extra time before the time has actually expired. The reason for that is because the clock should not help the players to know when 40 moves have been made. Obviously the players can and should not rely on the clocks in any case.

ebutaljib's picture


at 18:52 and 18.55

Anonymous's picture

Man, I cannot believe that so many in here don't know how those DGT clocks work. You're absolutely correct, as the video you provided clearly shows.

hasq's picture

"The reason for that is because the clock should not help the players to know when 40 moves have been made. "

Why on earth shouldn't they. Why is it part of the game to know when you've made 40 moves? Is that part of chess? The entire internet audience knows. Imagine another sport where players have to make count on the moves they've made before time control. It's ludicrous. What happened today is ludicrous and you wont find parallels in other sports.

DarrenL's picture

actually there is a very similar parallel with golf where players are still required to mark their own scorecards in spite of millions watching on tv and countless hundreds or thousands watching the event live...todays fiasco reminds me very much of the roe/parnevik controversy at the 2003 open...
...however, the biggest difference is that roe did not blame the rules or the officials, instead he took it on the chin like a man and realised he had only himself to blame, and roe lost out on possibly the greatest prize in golf and hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money. had that been naka he would have blamed 99.9% of the world's population then sulked himself silly before he finally admitted to himself that 'he' blundered, it was 'his' responsibility. the more i hear about naka the more he strikes me as just a spoiled little arrogant brat who needs to grow up and have a bit more respect for others instead of always looking for others to blame when he is clearly at fault. just another john macenroe type IMO. in fact i am beginning to sense a pattern here...macenroe = USA, fischer = USA, naka = USA. seems the good old USA breeds it's share of disrespectful, unsporting, demanding prima donna brats alright.

lefier's picture

A serious blow for Anand, one imagines.
No perfect game by Carlsen, but he seems to have some phsycological edge with Ivanchuk.
As for Nakamura, he would be a better sportsman to take the blame himself, as also is the case with objective standards.

S3's picture

It was stupid to ask the arbiter, sure. BUT the arbiter should have responded more clearly: he should have said he is not allowed to tell the number of moves.
Even if he didn't nod, he is wrong in my opinion. And the arbiter is partially responsible for Nakamura's loss.
So if Naka was anything like Fischer, he would already be on a plane home.

Knallo's picture

And he would be leading the tournament, probably...

S3's picture

Hehe true. Then again, if Naka had won today, and there was still some chance of that, he would be leading as well.

I wonder if the arbiter doesnt speak/understand english and if that may have been partial cause of the problems.

Guillaume's picture

I feel sorry for Nakamura's loss, but his question could have been ambiguous in the first place. Had they reached move 40? Yes. Had he completed move 40? No.

Bartleby's picture

I have been in this situation as an arbiter, and it's a tough one. As arbiter, you are not supposed to indicate by any means if he has reached move 40. You don't change your facial expression, you don't align the moves you write to the scoresheet, you keep on writing until the flag falls etc. If the player asks there wouldn't be enough time to explain him the rules if he hasn't made move 40. So if you start explaining, this already is indication enough. Probably every experienced arbiter would try not to react at all; and every experienced player would know about the dilemma the question has caused, and not deduce anything from whatever reaction he gets. In any case it's the player's responsibility to keep score if he has made 40 moves. The arbiter is only allowed to tell him after he flagged.

Bobby Fiske's picture

A very good explaination. The arbiter cannot be blamed. In hidsight, thought, it would have been perfect if he had used his body language. As a "reply" to Nakamura, he could simply have kept a stoneface and tourned away from Nakamura.Then the player could have realized that his request was not answered, meaning he had to draw his own conclution.

S3's picture

It takes only 3 seconds to say: "I can't tell". You don't need to read the Fide rules to explain that you are not allowed to say anything.
Ignoring a player is defenitely not standard or recommendable practice, as far as I know.

Rodzjer's picture

lol S3, first I wanted to write a content-based reply to your comment, but I soon realized that it made me smile!
Thanks for this enjoyable collections of words.

Anonymous's picture

>>>"So if Naka was anything like Fischer, he would already be on a plane home."
You alwayz funny S.

pat j's picture

naka is the king of flaggers. he is nasty on icc and flags people all the time. super wonderful that it happened to him!! ahhh, sweet justice.

Mike's picture

I think that this tournament showed that "no increment" time controls lead to a higher number of decisive games.

Webbimio's picture


Fezzik's picture

It's amazing to me that in the face of physical evidence (video proof that the clocks add time automatically at move 40), people still argue otherwise. FIDE allows clocks to do this because the clocks are unbiased arbiters. The clock may be wrong, so the scoresheet must be consulted for any time claim. If a dispute arises, the arbiter will follow the scoresheet. But the clocks do indeed reset at move 40 automatically in most (if not all) FIDE events.

Roberto Alvarez's picture

In the press conference, Vallejo told "I was sure I played 40 moves because in the clock I have 1 hour added", and also... "in some of the previous rounds, I also heard from Namakura, speaking aloud, if he got the 40 moves".
The situation is very clear: the arbiter should NOT inform the players if he passed the time control, and Nakamura should know this... This behaviour remembers one of Reshevsky, which in his famous severe time-trouble, asked how many moves were remaining for the time-control... Once, his wife told him the remaining moves, and the arbiter was forced to expel her from the playing room....
Vallejo is not guilty for Nakamura loss. In fact, Vallejo´s clock was showing the extra hour added after move 40, so, if only Nakamura sees the clock, he should known that he didn´t reached move 40.... Complaining to the arbiter in the way he did is bad sportmanship....

Rini Luyks's picture

Horrible defeat for Anand. Did he ever loose in 25 moves like this? A Kurzpartie!

Merlinovich's picture

Concerning how the DGT clock (and many other electronic clocks) work, the confusion stems from that they can be set both ways, either to add the time for the next period when 40 clock presses have been made, or when the time for the previous period has completely expired. In the past FIDE arbiters had come to a consensus of using the latter way of handling the addition of time, while over the years this changed so that nowadays it is more common that the former way is used (with move-induced time addition at move 40). I can't tell which is better, but I think FIDE should make a recommendation or even a rule to specify which one should be used.
Concerning the time loss Nakamura should know that the arbiter may not advice on how many moves have been completed. Still I think the arbiter should have told him on this and previous occasions quite clearly that he may not ask that question because the arbiter is not allowed to give advice on that subject - mumbling something could certainly have given Nakamura the impression that there was a nod. The arbiter normally can't give advice, but the advice that he can't give advice, should be loud and clear to any player asking!

noyb's picture

Here's a middle-finger salute to all the Nakamura haters! I think he showed some class in his tweet, unlike the Euro-trash here.

Bert de Bruut's picture

We know you are bad mannered, but here you excel in proving it once more.

Chess Fan's picture

If he was unsure of move 40, why did not Nakamura not make the moves until he is sure that he has made the requisite number before going out to bring the orange juice? I would not think any reasonable person would take such an important chance especially if there was not a clear "Yes" from the arbitrator.
Anyway, you can't blame the arbitrator for this and I am sorry that Nakamura should lose from a "plus" position like this. Strange that one of the best speed players in the world should lose twice because of time issue in this tournament.
Strange things do happen.

sulutas's picture

Can't they project the games a bigger screen inside the playing hall? As far as I know they do it in Dortmund. In this way, no one would have to bother about whether he has made it to the move 40.

Thomas's picture

They certainly have big screens, but in Bilbao they are outside the "playing hall" which is a glass cage 'prison'. In Dortmund and Wijk aan Zee, they are off the stage so players cannot see them either: It is and remains the players' own responsibility to know when they have reached the time control. Actually it isn't unheard of that players blitz (way) beyond move 40 if they aren't sure. So the digital clocks used already (wrongly?) give a hint by automatically adding an hour after 40 moves. With the given time control (increments only after move 40) there's no other way, except an arbiter interfering after the time control has been reached AND both players have realized it - in case of need, adding one extra minute to both clocks if players blitzed until move 42.

sulutas's picture

Also, Nakamura misses the point that there are cultural differences when it comes to gestures. Not all gestures like nodding are universal and let me assure you that I speak of experience. Maybe for the arbiter (who seems to have Indian origins given his name) the way he nodded meant that he didn't understand what Hikaru said, or he nodded in such a way that for him it meant something other than saying yes or no. I don't know but I wouldn't take it fro granted that all the gestures are universal.

Saji's picture

The Arbiter is not Indian though the name as indian

UB40's picture

@naka RTFM

Anonymous's picture

Will Nakamura tomorrow ask the arbiter again? ...

JP's picture
Nima's picture

Hail Invanchuck for being such a wonderful player and sport for attending the post-game conference. The fact that he lost to Carlsen today does not mean that he cannot beat him in the future. Coming to this tournament from the grueling Grand Prix, he has played amazing chess. I hope he wins the event.

RealityCheck's picture

Bilbao Blunder Festival 2011

jo's picture

*******News Alert*********************

s$&T suddenly suddenly realizes that both real and classical tables should be shown equally..... oops u guys missed the message from the germans (not in germans).

why tf do u try to play us simple fans this way.

We understand you need news...and so do we fans...but please d'ont treat us like limp *****************"your time has ran out..please tweet any problems you have to the Chess Propaganda society via Mr Kasparov or Mr Karpov via the Anti_FIDE Channel"

KingTal's picture

Nakamura should just watch at the clock... is it so hard? Very dumb situation he has made himself.

bondegnasker's picture

Why do they play without increments in this tournament? It's clear from the time scrambles that players are not used to it and not comfortable with it either - now it turns out that one of the players doesn't even know the rules that apply in such situations.

This time control produces more blunders and thus more decisive games. But if you want blunders, let them play blitz. There's no reason I can think of why we should only want our blunders to happen in move 39.

KingTal's picture

I think increments should be applied in every professional torunament nowadays, but what does knowing rules to do with the simple fact that Nakamura was just too dumb to look at the clock if he was unsure? Or at least he could have looked at Vallejos time where the increment after 40 moves was already added...

Thomas's picture

In the given case, an increment wouldn't have changed anything: it's added after making a move and pressing the clock, so Nakamura would still have flagged if he doesn't make a move.
In an earlier case also involving Nakamura (his game against Ivanchuk), increments would have avoided the worst time trouble because the players always have at least 30 seconds per move. But would this be enough to avoid "blunders" (whatever that means as distinct from simply a mistake) in a complicated position? And with a slower time control - say, 2h/40 or 100/40 with 30 second increment - players probably still would have spent most of their time earlier in the game to end up in time trouble.
Increments merely force players to apply half-decent time management. How on earth did players manage in the old days, when there were no digital clocks and thus no increments??

ebutaljib's picture

They didn't always manage :)

In one of his World championship matches against Smyslov, Botvinnik needed to make just one move with plenty of time on the clock. But he just sat at the table and thought and thought and thought. Minutes went bye, but he was still sitting peacefully and thinking about the position. He was very surprised when arbiter stepped up to him and told him that he has lost on time.

Also there is an infamous record: In 1969 Saemisch lost all of his 13 tournament games on time. A record that still stands :)

ebutaljib's picture

There is an even more controversial example with flag falling and arbiters decision.

In 1942 US Championship Reshevsky played with Denker. Reshevsky ran out of time. The arbiter was stasnding behind the clock and when Reshevsky's flag fell he turned around the clock and now mistakenly ruled out that Denker lost on time. Of course he and everyone else quickly realised the mistake but he refused to correct it!!! And so the result stood - a win for Reshevsky instead of Denker. Based on this gift Reshevsky caught Kashdan on 1st place. After few months they played a match for the US title and Reshevsky won and hence became US champion. But all because of arbiters mistake which he refused to correct.

Now imagine something like this in our time!

Anonymous's picture

Well, once you fail to consider evidence of your error it ceases being a 'mistake' and becomes something else IMO. I think I read in an interview sometime back that Denker felt that there was some collusion between Reshevsky and the Arbiter. Either way, Reshevsky could have corrected the arbiter, chose not to and therefore proved that he had no honor.

Thomas's picture

Such cases can happen at any time control. Time trouble addicts like Grischuk might still run low on the clock with 6 hours for 40 moves, spending 5:50 on the first 20 moves - but more often than not, then he doesn't flag and doesn't even blunder.

Saemisch didn't even beat his own record: In another tournament just before, he also lost every single game on time - and that one had 15 rounds. Well, he was 73 years old, way past his prime and almost inactive.


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