Reports | August 21, 2012 11:48

Sao Paulo to host first half Grand Slam Masters Final again

Grand Slam Masters Final

For the second consecutive year Sao Paulo, Brazil will host the first half of the Grand Slam Masters Final. The dates for the first leg are September 24th-29th, 2012 while the second half will take place in Bilbao, Spain from October 8th till 13th. This was announced yesterday in a press release.

On Monday morning the City Halls of Bilbao and Sao Paulo officially announced the agreement between the two cities for staging the 5th Grand Slam Masters Final in September and October. This means that for the second consecutive year Sao Paulo will host the opening ceremony and the first leg of the event. In 2010 it was Shanghai, while the first two editions were held in full in Bilbao.

The press release mentions that negotiations have taken place during the last few months. Still, only five (in fact exactly five) weeks before the start of the tournament everything is finalized. Well, not yet everything. The organizers refrained from mentioning one little detail: the participants.

What we know is that Magnus Carlsen plays, as last year's winner, and Levon Aronian as the winner of the Tata Steel tournament. Besides, Sergey Karjakin mentioned his participation in a tweet on August 2nd:

so far so good, I have accepted an invitation from Grand Slam! And tomorrow I start a Superfinal!

Fabiano Caruana mentioned his participation in similar fashion. Here's what was in fact Caruana's very first tweet, on July 29th:

I will be at the Grand Slam Final — September/October in São Paulo and Bibao.

So that's four out of six players. (The tournament is a double round robin with five rounds in each city.) With just five more weeks to go, we expect to hear about the full list of participants soon. The press release says

The identities of the participants in the 5th edition of the Masters Final will be announced at the official presentation ceremony which will be held in Sao Paulo.

This presentation is due to take place early September.

Update 15:36 CET: as Colin McGourty noted, Vishy Anand mentioned in the Times of India that he'll play, and Vladimir Kramnik has been invited as well as mentioned here at ChessVibes earlier!

Update August 22nd, 08:53 CET: We've learnt that Vladimir Kramnik has declined his invitation.

Deputy Secretary for External Relations of the Prefecture (City Hall) of Sao Paulo, Guilherme Mattar, had travelled to Bilbao for the finalization of the agreement. On Monday the Brazilian politician met with representatives from the Bilbao Chamber of Commerce and the Bizkaia Provincial Council, as well as the Managing Director of the Bilbao City Hall, Andoni Aldekoa. Guilherme Mattar said:

The agreement reached by our two cities to share the hosting of one of the world's most important chess tournaments is, for Bilbao and Sao Paulo, a magnificent opportunity, not just for sport, but also economically and commercially and even socially, because of the aim we have proposed this year of promoting the practice of this precious sport in schools and among the youth, as an instrument of integration.

Andoni Madariaga, Director of the Masters Final, said

I share in the satisfaction brought about by the agreement reached. We had offers from other large world capitals to host the tournament, but the enthusiastic involvement of the Sao Paulo authorities was not found in any other candidate, which was already demonstrated in the last edition. And I am convinced that this year will be equally as successful, both because of the overwhelming interest shown by the people of Sao Paulo and the extraordinary level of the players who will be competing.

Again, the cooperation between the two cities will once again be aimed at finding or improving business relations. As the press release mentions,

a group of Biscayan businesspeople will travel to the Brazilian economic capital during the first round of the tournament to hold meetings with Sao Paulo businesspeople.

But, this year there's also a youth aspect:

In addition to the business mission, this year in Brazil the desire is to focus on transmitting the values of chess among the very young. Therefore, the championship will be approaching the city's public schools.

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.


Anonymous's picture

Hopefully Anand and Kramnik will play!

Anonymous's picture

Excellent choice !

S3's picture

Unfortunately Kramnik won't play such an event on two continents and I doubt it's a good idea for Anand either. I'm afraid we might see the unstable Ivanchuk again.

S3's picture

I'll have to correct myself; Ivanchuk can't play in Bilbao as he plays in London. According to whychess Anand himself has said he will play Bilbao. This should be good indeed.

ShockeR's picture

Wonder if someone is going to get robbed again..

taphos's picture

Didn't Anand mention somewhere that he was going to play the Grand Slam final?

Anonymous's picture

I just heard that Bilbao mentioned he was eligible (as WCh).
Anand originally wanted to play Medias, which was cancelled.
He won't play the Olympiad either.
Moreover there won't be a Tal Memorial in november.
Seems like good chances that Anand will play Bilbao.
(London is not until december.)

noyb's picture

Could be interesting if there were a "surprise" participant, that doesn't want to be known until last minute...

Anonymous's picture

like Kasparov ?

Anonymous's picture

like VallejoPons ?

Harry_Flashman's picture

Like Santa Claus ?

Peter Doggers's picture

Added an update:

As Colin McGourty noted, Vishy Anand mentioned in the Times of India that he'll play and Vladimir Kramnik has been invited as well as mentioned here at ChessVibes earlier!

Clifford's picture

Kramnik has declined to play.

Anonymous's picture

i'll call Kramnik myself, he just can't stay home watching this event !

redivivo's picture

Gelfand will get the invitation and crush all opposition!

Anonymous's picture

What did I miss? For London, Svidler replaced Karjakin who preferred Bilbao (fair enough). Then Ivanchuk replaced Pono (why?). Radjabov still seems to be left without a tournament so he would seem the obvious choice for Bilbao. Unless they take pity on Kamsky or Vallejo Pons.

Anonymous2's picture

Maybe Radjabov will receive the invitation.

Anonymous's picture

it would be absolutly normal to invite Radjabov !

Anonymous's picture

Radjabov was second in tata steel, second in Tal Memorial, he MUST be invited !!!

Anthony Migchels's picture

gents, Ive got a request. Could you hint me a legendary study where a big black army gets mated by a very small white one?

it's going to be used as input in some artwork symbolizing how the overwhelming forces of evil at the last minute will be destroyed by the last remnants of the whites.

Anonymous's picture

you should chill out Anthony ... Being right doesn't mean it will lead you somewhere

Anthony Migchels's picture

Oops, my reputation preceeds me, it seems. But this is just to symbolize an archetype, and it's not even for me but for a friend.

I did find something though: white mates in 16 with ONLY ONE PAWN against an ENTIRELY INTACT black army. It's 'grotesque'.........

Go check it out, it's fun:

RealityCheck's picture

@Anthony Migchels Circa 1838 Jacob Jacobus Milan mates King Dingaan. Weenen, South Africa. Blood River.

Septimus's picture

Invite Kamsky please! He is a fighter. Also, is there an official participant list floating around somewhere? Is Topalov going to play?

Anonymous's picture

Kamsky is indeed a fighter but is he now stronger than his countryman - Nakamura? The last U.S. Championship seemed to suggest not.

Septimus's picture

Why not invite both?

Peter Doggers's picture

Added an update – Kramnik has declined his invitation so we now know five of the six players.

Thomas's picture

"only five (in fact exactly five) weeks before the start of the tournament everything is finalized."
I wonder if that (only five weeks) is really the case, to me it looks as if the organizers chose a suitable moment for a press release: when there is little news competition from ongoing major chess events, and when a Sao Paulo representative could travel to Bilbao. After all, the players knew it already, at least Caruana (cf. his tweet) and Anand (my source is an interview in the German magazine "Schach").

Stefan Löffler's theory on a German blog is that, for lack of official qualifying events, the organizers "adopted" other supertournaments: Carlsen was invited (also) as the winner of Tal Memorial 2011, Kramnik as the winner of London, "and the winner of Dortmund will also be invited" (that blog post was published 18th June, i.e. before Dortmund). So this might be how Caruana and Karjakin got their spots, and indeed now Radjabov should be next in line by Elo and tournament results.

Anonymous's picture

no doubt about it ! Radjabov for 6 packs

unknown's picture

Let Wang Hao play.

Russian chess players should protest against Putin's violence during Olympiad.

S3's picture

Kasparov's violence that is.

Anonymous's picture

How so?

Anonymous's picture

I hope players will not be robbed again this year in Sao Paulo. Ivanchuk could have won it last year if only he was not mentally disturbed by the incident.

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