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.


ebutaljib's picture

In 1969 Buesum Seamisch lost on board in rounds 4 and 14, not on time. All other games he lost on time, thus equaling his own record of 13 loses on time. But 1969 Lidkoeping was "special" because he lost ALL his (13) games on time.

redivivo's picture

If you want blunder free chess, let them play correspondence.

Bert de Bruut's picture
Phille's picture

There is one point worth mentioning concerning the Move-Counting-Clock Controversy: At least in Europe all games of a tournament are played under the same set of rules. And because of the fact, that it is often impossible to provide electronic clocks for hundreds of participants, it is usually obligatory to disable the move-counting in electronic clocks, so as to mimic the mechanical ones.
But of course this rule makes sense only in big amateur-opens and it seems like Fide has dropped it.
If Naka wasn't sure about that, he could just have looked at that screen displaying his game.

RealityCheck's picture

Be quick. Someone get the folks at ICC to Fed Ex Nakamura his mouse; last game of the Bilbao Blunder Festival starts in 90 minutes!

Raj's picture

A very eventful day with excitement on every board! Ivanchuk outplayed by brilliant Carlsen - a highly commendable win at this level. Aronian must have played very tactfully to have found the line to gain the upperhand against Anand in 25 moves. What's happening to Anand - fatigue? We're missing Vishy's creativity and crispness that we saw in the World Championship matches. Poor sportmanship on Nakamura's part - he is not an amateur who's new to time control and is he ignorant of the role of the chief arbiter to argue with him like that? Crisis brings out the character in a player - Ivanchuk showed his fine character today. Thank you Chessvibes for providing chess fans this information and giving us a forum to express out views.

Septimus's picture

Anand's play has been quite dreadful. Has a WCh finished in last place in any tournament? A far cry from the high standards he sets himself. But then again, we have seen him falter in tournaments only to come out blasting at the WCh.

Septimus's picture

Nakamura could have avoided this if he had simply asked the arbiter to fetch him the orange juice. Something along the lines of..."bring me some juice b!tc#".

RealityCheck's picture

Not a good idea Septimus. Was it at Linares? GM Azmaiparashvili got his ass kicked at the awards ceremony for mouthing off to someone. Dotted his eye. Bloodied his lip.

Naka'd be better off asking Garry to buy him a digital watch for christmas.

RealityCheck's picture

Not a good idea Septimus. Was it at Linares? GM Azmaiparashvili got his ass kicked at the awards ceremony for mouthing off to someone. Dotted his eye. Bloodied his lip.

Naka'd be better off asking Garry to buy him a digital wrist watch for christmas.

Septimus's picture

Lol, I was being facetious there my friend. ;)

cory's picture

Anand and Gelfand have both lost big games decisively lately.. Does anybody else thinks that they may be not playing up to their best abilities, as a way to throw each other off in the WC match???

redivivo's picture

That's what Gelfand has been doing for the last 15 years already when he has gone something like 0-15 against the big four Kasparov-Anand-Kramnik-Topalov and cleverly avoided winning all top tournaments. Losing that drawn endgame against Jakovenko so his team failed in the European Club Cup was just another clever move, and if he can finish last in Tal Memorial it would be the icing on the cake :)

Anonymous's picture

Shortly before defeating Capablanca in their world championship match, Alekhine finished a tournament some points behind.

redivivo's picture

Capablanca and Alekhine finished top two in that tournament though.


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