Reports | August 02, 2010 17:59

Participants Masters Final announced

Participants Shanghai/Bilbao Grand Slam Final announcedVladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Alexei Shirov and Wang Hao are the participants of the first part of this year's Grand Slam Masters Final, which will be held 3-8 September in Shanghai, China. The top two qualified in Shanghai will play along with Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand in Bilbao, October 9-15.

As we reported earlier this year, the 2010 Grand Slam Masters Final will be split into two parts. One will be held in Shanghai, China (just before the Olympiad) and one in Bilbao, Spain (just after). During a presentation in Bilbao on Friday, more details were revealed. But before that, first we'll mention that ChessVibes will be present both in Shanghai and Bilbao to produce videos!

The presentation of th 3rd Grand Slam Final Masters, last Friday at the town hall in Bilbao

The presentation of th 3rd Grand Slam Final Masters, last Friday at the town hall in Bilbao

The most important aspects of this year's event are:

  • Shanghai will host the first stage, September 3-8, coinciding with the World Expo and the presence of Bilbao in Shanghai.
  • Bilbao will host the second stage, October 9-15.
  • The players who will participate in Shanghai are: Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Alexei Shirov y Wang Hao. The top two qualified in Shanghai will play along with Carlsen and Anand in Bilbao.

The Grand Slam Chess Association, not to be confused with the Grand Prix (a series of FIDE events), includes four top tournaments: Pearl Spring (Nanjing, China), Corus (Wijk aan Zee), Ciudad de Linares (Spain) and the Kings' Tournament (Bazna, Romania). The winners of these Grand Slam tournaments qualify for the annual Masters Final.

Magnus Carlsen won all three Grand Slam tournaments he played: in Nanjing, Wijk aan Zee and Bazna. Therefore, a logical procedure would be to look at the numbers 2 and 3 (Kramnik and Shirov ended shared 2nd at Corus, in Linares it was Grischuk who finished 2nd, one place higher than Aronian and in Bazna, Radjabov and Gelfand ended shared 2nd).

However, the organizers had a different strategy for sending out their invitations, partly influenced by the split of the tournament in two parts. The official press release explains:

The four players who will participate in the first stage in Shanghai are: Wang Hao, as best Chinese player (20th ranked); Alexei Shírov, as best Spanish player (9th ranked); Levon Aronian, as winner of the Final Chess Masters 2009 (5th ranked); and Vladimir Kramnik, as fourth ranked in the world ranking (4th ranked).

The top two qualified in Shanghai will play in Bilbao along with Magnus Carlsen, winner of the tournaments of Wijk aan Zee, Nankín and Bazna, and current number one of the wold (1st ranked) and Viswanathan Anand, current World Champion (3rd ranked).

Topalov won in Linares but won't play in the Final due to "personal reasons", as the press release notes. Last year the Bulgarian declined because the reduced budget and prize fund didn’t meet his expectations.

The exact venue in Shanghai hasn't been announced yet (in fact almost no details about the Chinese part are known at the moment of writing) but the press release notes the relation to the World Expo:

The important presence of Bilbao in the Expo Shanghai, with an exhibition space that has received more than 500,000 visitors, will be supported with the organization of this world famous chess event.

In Bilbao, the Spaniards say goodbye to the glass cube at the Plaza Nueva (the fact that Anand didn't like to play there might well have been of importance) and instead they will hold the tournament in the “Atrio de Alhóndiga”.


The Alhóndiga in Bilbao | Photo Ron Brill, Wikipedia

The Alhóndiga is a former wine warehouse designed by Ricardo Bastida in 1909. It was renovated as a multipurpose civic center, with the intervention of the designer Philippe Starck, and was inaugurated on May 18, 2010.

Like in 2008 and 2009, there will be a varied programme of extra events. From the press release:

...the “expert’s spot” commentary and analysis area for all audiences to follow, big screens, live internet transmission, and media representatives from every continent are all also to be expected at the event. And, most importantly, the hosting of an elite chess event outside, amongst the greater public.

In this 3rd Mastes Final the Sofia Rule will be in effect: draw-offers will only be allowed through the arbiter. The scoring system will be once again similar to football scoring system: players will get 3 points for winning a game, 1 point for drawing and 0 points for losing.

Besides organizers Andoni Madariaga (coordinator) and Juan Carlos Fernández Garcia (technical director), the presentation of the tournament on Friday included mayor of Bilbao Iñaki Azkuna and World Champion Viswanathan Anand. Anand gave a simul over 24 boards and was held to a draw by 80-year-old José Ramón Arrupe, former champion of Spain.

Bilbao's mayor Iñaki Azkuna against the World Champ...

Bilbao's mayor Iñaki Azkuna against the World Champ...

...Viswanathan Anand, who gave a 24-board simul | Photo David Llada

...Viswanathan Anand, who gave a
24-board simul | Photo David Llada

...against locals of different levels...

...against locals of different levels...

...which attracted many spectators, including Juan Carlos Fernández Garcia of the Grand Slam Chess Association

...which attracted many spectators, including
Juan Carlos Fernández Garcia of the Grand Slam Chess Association

The stunning Arabic room of the town hall | Photo David Llada

The stunning Arabic room of the town hall | Photo David Llada

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.


Brecht's picture

Funny, Topalov doesn't even care to parcitipate...last year the price money was too little for this year...he states personal reasons...
Also, he made lots of fuss recently about playing in Russia , against Kramnik...

ozan's picture

yes after saying that it would look ironic for him to play against kramnik in sofia.
but they will not be able to find kramnik, anand etc. to speak in their level (which is proved to be very low)!

Jon's picture

Maybe he thinks that's a good idea NOT to play Anand, Carlsen, Aronian and Kramnik before the WC-challanger cup next spring in Kazan. In stead he will prepare solely for that particular event.

I'm looking foreward to se what kind of strategy/play the challangers are going to execute in Shanghai and Bilbao. Maybe Carlsen are the last to be worried since he's play all kinds of openings and thus leaving the others to speculate any how many games he plays before the challanger cup.

ChessGirl's picture

The man in the pink t-shirt sitting on the right in the second from last photo was the only one capable of drawing Anand in the simuls... and he´s 80 years old!!!

Jon's picture

Thank's for the information! Really impressive of an 90 years old fellow. As we say in Norwegian "The old (people) are the eldest"

rooster85's picture

"The four players who will participate in the first stage in Shanghai are: Wang Hao, as best Chinese player (20th ranked); Alexei Shírov, as best Spanish player (9th ranked); Levon Aronian, as winner of the Final Chess Masters 2009 (5th ranked); and Vladimir Kramnik, as fourth ranked in the world ranking (4th ranked)."

What kind of system is that? Kramnik, as fourth ranked? So what? I admire Vladimir, and very much want him to play the final, but this system is ridiculous IMHO. I think better would be to have some kind of short matches Kramnik - Shirov and Gelfand - Radjabov (all of them were shared 2nd behind Magnus in two tournaments he won) and winners would play the first part of the final with Aronian and Grischuk. That way, no players who deserve to at least have a chance of playing with Vishy and Magnus would be left out (as Grischuk, Gelfand and Radjabov are now), and no players would get a chance to play the final just because they are the best in the organizers' country...I mean no personal offence to Hao Wang, but every time the host country gets a wild card, my blood pressure rises....what is the purpose of "qualifying" tournaments as corus, linares etc. then??

Thomas's picture

@rooster85: One could also apply a different logic: Kramnik and Shirov finished 1/2 point behind Carlsen at Corus, Gelfand and Radjabov were 2 points behind Carlsen at Bazna. Then the only player who is really left out is Grischuk (half a point behind Topalov at Linares), and the only one who doesn't belong is Wang Hao.
Well, these private organizers can do whatever they want, but definitely they can no longer claim that their system is superior to the FIDE Grand Prix, and that winning Bilbao is as important or more important than being world champion.

More interesting IMO is the following:
- Does Danailov still play a major role in the Grand Slam, now that Topalov declines the Bilbao invitation for the second time in a row and MTel was also cancelled?
- What kind of "unavoidable personal reasons" ("razones personales ineludibles" in the Spanish original version) are known months in advance? "Ineludibles" sounds like "elusive", but apparently cannot be translated in that way .... .
- Is it coincidence that Kramnik becomes involved while Topalov drops out? Or is this Topalov's unavoidable personal reason?

Also a bit odd that the tournament webpage is available only in Spanish and Basque. And whoever wrote Kramnik's portrait ("never takes any risks ...") hasn't followed chess recently!?

vooruitgang's picture

Congrats to senor Jose Ramon Arrupe for a well played game!

Jon's picture

Agree with your "different" logic. Grishuk is the man who is left out, not Radjabov with only +1 in Bazna.

expo3's picture

this tournament is wicked!

test's picture

>> What kind of system is that?

An objective system would be something like: first take the winners & if they are unavailable just go down the list of the final standings. With such a system the politicos are irrelevant.

With a subjective system like they have here the players depend on being in the good graces of the politicos; giving them more power and room for shenanigans.

Tony's picture

Allowing a local player a chance to play in the event is one of the benefits of organizing an event. this is a wide spread practice and one that encourages organizers and local particpation (and money) to be involved in an event.
Look at any big event and there is almost always a local seed. [I am trying to think of one that doesnt have a local seed and I cannt recal one.] This tradition goes back very far, Nottingham 1936 , Wijk ann zee, comes to mind and the US closed championship does this as well. In all cases the local player is usually of a reasonable level of course.

Another problem with matches is the logistics of funding the events, finding locations, fitting the time to play in to the players schedule, etc
These players do not just sit around all day and show up at a local coffeeshop to play a few games for free at the drop of a hat. Organization of these events tends to take months and many of the players sign contracts 6 months-1 year ahead of time to play in an event. (Lets call them soft contracts that get confirmed as the date gets closer)

It is interesting that they had not considered the fact that 1 player might win multiple events and cause some qualification confusion or maybe they had but didnt publish the qualifying points.
The manner in which they determined the qualifers sounds very resonable and will attract viewers from all around Europe (read as advertisment $$$)

As for Topalov not playing well again read that as sponsership. If the tournament is not in Bulgaria then there is no payout for Danpolov so why play somewhere else and help others?

CAL|Daniel's picture

Local players are not always on a reasonable level (since you mentioned the US Championship think Charles Lawton of US 2009). And this is the reason that people complain about local wild cards, people would prefer to see someone on the level of the rest of the tournament.

Anyways, what were the rules for one person winning multiple events?

Any game score for Anand-Ramon?

Thomas's picture

@Tony: I agree with your remarks about wildcards ... for most "big events". But this one is supposed to be, and still calls itself the Masters Final - which should imply that all, or at least most players qualify, rather than being selected by the organizers including arguments such as "he's Spanish" and "he's Chinese". They didn't even mention that Kramnik and Shirov finished second at Corus - which would justify their nomination and might even give them preference over the other runner-ups. It could be argued that shared second in an event with fourteen players (including nine from the 2700+ club) is worth more than shared or even clear second in an event with six players?

Your last paragraph about Topalov may be ironic. If not:
- even last place in Bilbao would be a payout for him, probably a number with five zeros ... .
- What if every player adopted the "I will only play in my home country" attitude? Then there will be no more international tournaments but only national championships ... . BTW, for what it's worth both Topalov and Danailov are actually living in Spain.

Septimus's picture

Topalov is not playing because the IBM supercomputer is broken.

rooster85's picture

@Thomas: "One could also apply a different logic: Kramnik and Shirov finished 1/2 point behind Carlsen at Corus, Gelfand and Radjabov were 2 points behind Carlsen at Bazna. Then the only player who is really left out is Grischuk (half a point behind Topalov at Linares), and the only one who doesn’t belong is Wang Hao."

well, how they choose "replacements" for Carlsen 2 and Carlsen 3 :) might be open to debate, but I don't think that "how many points behing C." is that relevant, simply because they are two separate tournaments. I thought that the whole point of "Grand Slam" was, that one player from each tournament qualifies for the final. Ergo, one from Corus and one from Bazna..

@Tony: I think Thomas pretty much said all I was gonna say..I agree that it is a widespread (and good IMO) practice in big tournaments, but again, I thought "Masters Final" had a set of qualifying rules - thus "no wildcards allowed". One could also argue that the local players had their chance to qualify by winning the tournaments they participated in - e.g. if Smeets would have won Corus 2010, I'd have no problem that he's below 2700 or whatever - he earned his spot - fine with me..

rooster85's picture

@Jon:"Grishuk is the man who is left out, not Radjabov with only +1 in Bazna."

That he had +1 says nothing..In fact, he had 1 draw less than Grischuk in Linares (5 draws out of 10 compared to 6/10). That could prove that he took more risks, or that the field was more competitive in general, etc.
IMO Grischuk, Gelfand and Radjabov are all left out. Or maybe Carlsen made the "rules" ( if they ever existed) obsolete by winning all those events... :-)

aun1's picture

if they could have just gotten topalov and grischuk to play they would have had all the top 6 players competing. that would have been something

Gerando's picture

Yet another system where the players are nominated by some strange rules and not by their performances on the board. How can chess be considered as a professional organisation in those conditions?

Thomas's picture

Hmm, Grischuk's score in Linares was +3=6-1. At Bazna, Gelfand and Radjabov scored +3=5-2 - "one draw less" for them because they had one additional loss.

With regard to the Chinese wildcard, the organizers are actually lucky that Wang Hao overtook Wang Yue by Elo. Keeping the initial Grand Slam concept and Wang Yue's results in mind (4.5/10 at Nanjing, 3/10 at Bazna), it would be hard to justify why _he_ has to get yet another chance to qualify ... .

Colin McGourty's picture

It's a bit odd that Topalov isn't taking part as just over a month ago he said this to a Bulgarian newspaper:

"Now Silvio Danailov is negotiating my participation in two tournaments. One is in Bilbao, and the other in China. We’ll take part in these events not only for the result that I might achieve, but also for the sake of my manager’s candidacy to be the President of the ECU."

CAL|Daniel's picture

And what does China have to do with the ECU? And how is Topalov's participation in ANYTHING going to help Danailov's candidacy for the ECU?

S's picture

It is not going to help. That's why he won't participate ;)

mort's picture

Since topalov does not paticipate. MC has in reality won the masters already.

Bartleby's picture

Impressive names, novel 2x4 format, will be fun to watch. But the idea of a "Masters'" of chess is broken. They made (again) a mess out of the qualification process. With any objectivity gone, from a sports point of view the main thing is to win Corus or Linares. Bilbao is only an extra pay day, a promotional event with quirky rules.

Colin McGourty's picture

It's reassuring to see the players are as bemused by the line-up as we are. Shirov said this on a Russian forum:

"As I understand it from the press releases, they decided not to take the second places in the tournaments into account at all, which is why Grischuk isn't there. So Kramnik got in by rating and I got in as a Spaniard, seeing as the final's in Bilbao. Of course it's strange to play according to that criteria in Shanghai, and not in Bilbao itself, but I've got nothing against it personally, I've never been to China :)"

Anand fan's picture

The London Chess Classic will also be very good. The field includes "Anand. Returning are World Number One Magnus Carlsen, Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, US Number One Hikaru Nakamura and the top English players Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Luke McShane and David Howell." TWIC

Thomas's picture

@CAL|Daniel: Well, Danailov boasts (in an interview published on his campaign website) that he organised many events:
"I do not want to comment my opponents, I would like to speak with the facts. Only in the last 5 years I brought to chess more than 10 million eur in sponsorship – Mtel Masters tournaments, Grand Slam events, the FIDE World Chess Championship Mexico 2007, the Challengers match Kamsky – Topalov and FIDE World Championship Anand – Topalov. This is the reality, like it or not."

Then it is fair to ask what the next five years might bring:
- MTel was cancelled this year, and has an uncertain future
- Bilbao was substantially changed, and not for the better (one may wonder what they come up with for Bilbao 2011)
- There was never a follow-up to the Mexico WCh. A Grand Slam tournament in Mexico was announced and scheduled, and then didn't happen.

Arguably, Danailov still holds an advantage in this field compared to the other candidates, but it's fading away. Topalov's participation in "anything" may not help Danailov's campaign, but Topalov's non-participation in Bilbao - once sold by danailov as his brainchild - may hurt it.

As always, one has to read Topalov interviews carefully:
"Silvio Danailov is _negotiating_ my participation in two tournaments ...." - why did negotiations fail?
"The prize fund isn't attractive enough"
"It's either me or Anand"
"It's either me or Kramnik"
The only reason I could understand is if he had serious objections against a Chinese wildcard out of the blue .... .

rooster85's picture

@Thomas: "Hmm, Grischuk’s score in Linares was +3=6-1. At Bazna, Gelfand and Radjabov scored +3=5-2 – “one draw less” for them because they had one additional loss."

Well, ofc! Don't worry, I did the math before posting :) Just wanted to say that the result doesn't matter, really (for qualifying purposes), as long as he finished second. If that's on +3 behind someone with +4, or on "=" behind someone with +1 doesn't matter.. Also, that's comparing two separate tournaments, and you already know my opinion about that :)

Jon's picture

Anand and Kramnik rather than Topalov is most difficult opponents for Carlsen.

Thomas's picture

What mort may have meant: Carlsen is the only one who actually qualified for the final, by winning one (or more) of the official qualifying events announced beforehand.

@rooster85: I see your logic about one player qualifying from each tournament. But actually Carlsen represents Bazna, as much as he represents Nanjing and Corus - only Linares has noone from the entire field. Last year, Topalov also declined the Bilbao invitation and was logically replaced by Aronian who finished behind him in Nanjing - if "Bilbao" had ANY predictability or consistency, Grischuk should be invited this year ... .

Bazna happens to be the last tournament of the series. What would you suggest in the following situation, hypothetical but theoretically possible?
- the Bazna winner already won Nanjing
- two players sharing second place have already won Corus and Linares, respectively
- #4 declines the invitation
Should #5 be invited and rewarded for scoring less than 50%?

cheesfan's picture

“Now Silvio Danailov is negotiating my participation in two tournaments. One is in Bilbao, and the other in China. We’ll take part in these events not only for the result that I might achieve, but also for the sake of my manager’s candidacy to be the President of the ECU.”

Veselin Topalov will be participated on chess olympiad.
"and the other in China. "
Beside this i suppouse that he will play in Nanjing tournament. Because Shanghai-Bilbao is one tournament with two stages in fact.

Thomas's picture

"China" could indeed also be Nanjing, but did I miss something? Was the Chess Olympiad moved to Bilbao?

rooster85's picture

@Thomas: ..Then who is the 2nd one from Nanjing? ;)
But seriously, I get your point, and I agree. inviting #5 from Bazna because he's "next in the line" after #4 decines could be seen as odd, at least. But what to do when a guy wins all tourneys he participates in? Probably it would be better to ask the organizers of the grand slam, or better yet, if they would have asked that themselves beforehand...
In my view, either say that the final is an event for which one has to qualify, and have rules for doing so that are appropriate (not perfect because nothing is :) ), or say nothing and give the organizers free hand as to whom to invite. Here, one thing was said and the other was done...
Oh well, enough "crying over spilled milk", I'm glad that most of my favourites are there and can't wait to see them fight :D

Castro's picture

"Bilbao rule" (scoring system) is very very bad, because too brutal, entirely currupting the classic chess nature and balance.
I think the idea would be acceptable if the scoring "stimulous for a win" was reduced, say 7-3-0, or even 5-2-0, instead of the ridiculous 3-1-0.

As for the "Sofia rule", well, I've said enough times already about that realy stupid and simply anti-chess measure:
Stupid and anti-chess because absolutely NOT NECESSARY.
Stupid and anti-chess because it's a fraude and easily "fraudable", hence ineficient (other then, sometimes, some distorted "placebo effect", which could be attained by other, honest, means).
Stupid and anti-chess because the draw by mutual agreement should belong to the players will, never forbiden.
Stupid and ant-chess because this game is (precisely!) chess, a game about mind and reasonable things, and where people should primarily avoid fooling themselves and others!

Accepting these rules (at least as they are now) is insulting ourselves and the game we love.

cheesfan's picture

@Thomas“China” could indeed also be Nanjing, but did I miss something? Was the Chess Olympiad moved to Bilbao?

You don't miss something, Thomas. Chess olympiad is in the time frame between two stages of Final masters. Maybe Topalov wants to fully concentrate on his Olympiad's performance. The object of negotiations was his participation in Shanghai-Bilbao(Topalov won Linares 2010),"Bilbao" in quoted text or his participation in Nanjing 2010, "China" in quoted text.

test's picture

Using independently organized invitational tournaments (with different formats & different number of participants to boot) as qualifier you automatically run into problems. So the whole concept is questionable when you want objectivity or fairness. (Can you compare 3rd place in a 6 player tournament with 3rd place in a 14 player tournament?) But never the less I think it has its merits as it adds some sort of extra sporting dimension and gives more value (albeit subjective) to the "final" tournament. And we're not deciding the word champion here, as far as I'm concerned it's just another tournament.

Here's one very simple way to do it:
Let's say we need 6 players for the final.
First we take all the first place finishers.
Then we take all the second place finishers.
If there are still slots open for the final we go to the third place finishers.
Etc until all the slots of the final are filled.
If there is a tie between several players for the last slots to be filled just use the latest rating list as a tiebreaker.

(Maybe this is not perfect but at least it's objective as far as the final goes, there's already a lot of favoritism built in as the qualifiers are invitational.)

test's picture

Based on these results:

Pearl Spring 2009 - September 27 to October 9, 2009
(Could not find final standings on official site.)
01. Magnus Carlsen
02. Veselin Topalov
03. Wang Yue
04. Teimour Radjabov
05. Peter Leko
06. Dmitry Jakovenko

Corus (Wijk aan Zee) 2010 - Januari 16 to 31, 2010
(Official site does not indicate tiebreakers.)
01. Magnus Carlsen
02. Vladimir Kramnik
03. Alexei Shirov
04. Viswanathan Anand
05. Hikaru Nakamura
06. Sergey Karjakin
07. Vassily Ivanchuk
08. Peter Leko
09. Lenier Dominguez Perez
10. Fabiano Caruana
11. Nigel Short
12. Loek van Wely
13. Sergei Tiviakov
14. Jan Smeets

Ciudad de Linares 2010 - February 13 to 24, 2010
01. Veselin Topalov
02. Alexander Grischuk
03. Levon Aronian
04. Vugar Gashimov
05. Boris Gelfand
06. Francisco Vallejo Pons

Kings’ Tournament 2010 - June 14 to 25, 2010
01. Magnus Carlsen
02. Teimour Radjabov
03. Boris Gelfand
04. Ruslan Ponomariov
05. Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu
06. Wang Yue

With the above system (& current FIDE rating list) if we need 6 players we get this list:
01. Magnus Carlsen
01. Veselin Topalov
02. Vladimir Kramnik
02. Alexander Grischuk
02. Teimour Radjabov
03. Wang Yue (2716)
03. Alexei Shirov (2749)
03. Levon Aronian (2783)
03. Boris Gelfand (2739)

Topalov declined so we get these qualified players:
1. Magnus Carlsen
2. Vladimir Kramnik
3. Alexander Grischuk
4. Teimour Radjabov
5. Levon Aronian (2783)
6. Alexei Shirov (2749)

So the organizers ditched Grischuk & Radjabov and replaced them with Anand & Wang Hao.
Maybe one has to be realistic and accept that without a Chinese (or Spanish) player the tournament might not have been possible. Maybe it is for the same reason that they dropped in the current world champion. But if that is the case why bother pretending the other tournaments are used as qualifiers?

Thomas's picture

In fairness to the organizers (they are making a mess out of it, but still ...), they only said that the winners of qualifying events would be automatically seeded. Last year the problem was that Grischuk and Ivanchuk shared first in Linares - no problem, they just used the tiebreak applied at the event (number of wins, Sonneborn-Berger would have favored Ivanchuk), at least this was known beforehand [but with a field of six players rather than four, they should have invited both].

This year the problem is that Carlsen multi-qualified, and indeed they weren't prepared for such a situation. Indeed, the logical procedure would be to look at the second and maybe third places. The problem first appeared after Corus, then the organizers could have said "let logic prevail" - they didn't, given Danailov's (claimed) role in the Grand Slam it looked as if they tried to find a way to avoid Kramnik. Eventually, Topalov was out (his own choice) and Kramnik is in. Coincidence??
Well, according to the logic that eventually prevailed, Kramnik would have been out if Topalov participated - because he doesn't have a Spanish or Chinese passport.

@test: Some comments/corrections to your list. Gelfand shared second with Radjabov in Bazna, so both would have the same rights. IMO, tiebreakers are always a bit artificial, and I am also skeptical about rapid and blitz playoffs, a different kind of chess after all - unless they are really needed (knockout tournaments as the World Cup, medals and World Cup qualifiers at the European Championship). It doesn't really make a difference as both Gelfand and Radjabov had no rights in the end ... .

Using current Elo as tiebreaker is problematic given that it's just a snapshot in time - Gelfand and even Wang Yue were around 2750 earlier this year. In any case, they would have to use the Elo at the moment of invitations and contract negotiations, which predates the press release announcing the final field (by weeks or months?).

test's picture

>> Gelfand shared second with Radjabov in Bazna, so both would have the same rights.

I agree that it seems more fair to disregard the tiebreakers from the qualifying events.
It has the extra benefit that we will have to go less often to third place finishers and most of the time should be able to fill all the slots with shared first & second place finishers alone.
But unless you are very lucky you are almost always still going to have to use a tiebreaker somewhere.

Disregarding tiebreaks from the qualifying events would get us this list:

01. Magnus Carlsen - Pearl Spring, Corus, Kings’ Tournament
01. Veselin Topalov - Linares
02. Vladimir Kramnik - Corus
02. Alexei Shirov - Corus
02. Alexander Grischuk - Linares
02. Teimour Radjabov - Kings’ Tournament
02. Boris Gelfand - Kings’ Tournament

With Topalov declining that makes a nice tidy list of six players where six players are needed. But this would just have been a lucky circumstance.
If Topalov had not declined his invitation then we would have had to eliminate 1 player from the 5 remaining second place finishers, what tiebreaker would you then propose?

I would still propose the latest rating list (at the time of the invitations obviously).
The four tournaments took place over a period of 10 months so it is very if not endlessly debatable which rating list to use. At least the latest list will be more likely to produce the strongest field when the final is eventually being played. Also the latest list will take into account the overall performance of the players involved over that same period of time.
If not the rating list, what else?

rogge's picture

The participation of Shirov and Wang Hao only boosts a possible line-up with Top 5 players Carlsen, Anand, Aronian and Kramnik. What more can we ask for. Besides, no one but Carlsen and Topalov (who reclined) could rightfully claim a spot.

I'm looking forward to possibly the strongest Bilbao final ever, and I won't miss Topalov, Grischuk, Radjabov, Gelfand or anyone else.

rogge's picture

"(who reclined)" and even *declined* :)

test's picture

>> In fairness to the organizers, they only said that the winners of qualifying events would be automatically seeded.

You might be correct with this one. In that case I retract my criticism.

The above still stands as a more objective way of filling in the remaining spots, but in these hard financial times a more flexible approach has it's benefits. :)

I'm not complaining about the lineup they managed to get together. (After all Wang Hao is the third youngest player on the current rating list behind Carlsen & Karjakin, just in front of Vachier-Lagrave.)

Thomas's picture

@test: Some subjectivity is OK with me. As I wrote before, Gelfand and Radjabov would be "last on the list" of reserve qualifiers, because they finished 2 points behind the winner and never had a chance to win the event. Corus was between Carlsen, Kramnik and Shirov, Linares was between Grischuk and Topalov - in both cases until the last round. One could even argue that shared fourth out of fourteen at Corus 1 point behind (Anand and Nakamura) is worth more than shared second out of six at Bazna. Then it makes some sense to "drop" Gelfand and Radjabov and replace them by 'motivated wildcards' (Anand who's world champion, Aronian who won last time).

As general criterion to choose between various "Bilbao candidates" I could propose the second-best result in the Grand Slam series, but this has two problems:
- in the given case (Gelfand or Radjabov?) it doesn't help: both finished 4th-6th in their other event
- it isn't even always available: Carlsen was the only one who played three events (and declined the Linares invitation). Topalov, Radjabov, Gelfand and Wang Yue played two events, many others (Kramnik, Anand, Shirov, Grischuk, ...) played only one event.

I still think current or recent rating is problematic. Imagine one had to choose either Kramnik or Aronian, then it's a matter of just a few points and it crucially depends on when the choice is made, before or after Dortmund. This would still make some sense if Aronian had played in Dortmund and done better than Kramnik - but he didn't and would have "earned his spot by doing nothing". If anything, an average rating over several lists might make sense - but that's again unfair to Carlsen who progressed steadily since the start of the series (Nanjing was the first event).

@rogge: For me, the strongest Bilbao final ever is still the first one in 2008: Anand, Aronian, Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Radjabov, Topalov - even if this year might have a higher rating average. Six players is better than four ... . 2008 was a promising start, since then things went downhill.

test's picture

They have 4 players from the current top 5 (Topalov missing) + the locals from Spain & China: Shirov & Wang Hao (up and coming youngster). Not too shabby.

cheesfan's picture

Fully agreed with test's opinion on participants :)

cheesfan's picture

Azerbaijani grandmaster to participate in super contest Nandzin - 2010

Tue 10 August 2010

Vugar Hashimov will take part in the super contest Nandzin - 2010 (China) to be held on October 18-30.

According to Sarhan Hashimov, manager of the International grandmaster Vugar Hashimov, our chess player will take part in the super contest Nandzin - 2010 (China) to be held on October 18-30. The two-round contest will involve:

Vugar Hashimov (Azerbaijan, the best chess player of Azerbaijan), Magnus Carlsen (Norway, No 1 in the world ranking), Vishvanatan Anand (India, the current world champion), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria, the former world champion), Vang Yue (China, the best chess player of China), Etienne Bacro (France, the best chess player of France).

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