Blindfold Chess World Cup in Bilbao

10/18/2007 – An unusual tournament is under way in the Basque city of Bilbao: six players – Topalov, Carlsen, Polgar, Bu, Karjakin and Harikrishna – are facing each other in a blindfold rapid chess double round robin. No draw offers are allowed ("Sofia rules") and the scoring system awards three points for a win and one for a draw. The first four rounds were marred by one-move blunders. Illustrated report.

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Bilbao Blindfold Chess World Cup

The Bilbao Blindfold Chess World Cup is taking place from October 16th to 20th, 2007, in the Hotel Sheraton Bilbao. The participating players are listed in the graphic below (provided by the official web site):

The Blind Chess World Cup is being played in semi-rapid match mode, as a double round robin, with each pairing playing a mini-match of two games each day of the tournament. Time controls are 25 minutes per player plus for the entire game plus 10 seconds increment per move.

The scoring system is as follows: three points for every game won, one point for a draw and 0 for a defeat. Apart from this the so-called "Sofia Rule" is in force: players are not allowed to offer or accept a draw between themselves. Only the arbiter may decide whether a game is drawn, and a positive decision is only possible for one of the following three reasons: a threefold repetition; perpetual check, or positions which are theoretically drawn. We recognise the influence of Topalov manager Silvio Danailov in the implementation of these interesting rules.

The games are projected on giant screens, and the public is provided with analysis, commentary and interviews by GMs Boris Spassky, Elisbar Ubilava, Ljubomir Ljubojevic and Txelu Fernández. The moderator is Spanish journalist Leontxo García, assisted by Nicola Lococo. "The objective is that the experience of watching a chess match," say the organisers, "should no longer be something solitary and silent, becoming a collective, dynamic, open and participatory event, enlivened by discussion and debate." Hear hear!

The games are being broadcast live on the tournament site (link below) and on Playchess.com.


They are actually required to wear blindfolds during the games, at least at the start


Blindfold chess, without pieces on the boards


Back to back – Sergey Karjakin and Pentala Harikrishna (in separate games)


No peeking, Judit! Actually the blindfolds are removed once the games start


After a couple of moves the players remove their blindfolds and typ in their moves on keyboards


GMs Ljubomir Ljubojevich and Boris Spassky annotate the games for the audience

All photos by Nadja Woisin. Many more pictures, including city scenes
from Bilbao, are available on our Spanish web site here and here.


Results and games from the first two days

Round 1: Tuesday, October 16th, 18:30h
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Judit Polgar
Pentala Harikrishna
½-½
Magnus Carlsen
Xiangzhi Bu
1-0
Sergey Karjakin
Round 2: Tuesday, October 16th, 19:30h
Judit Polgar
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Pentala Harikrishna
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Xiangzhi Bu
Round 3: Wednesday, October 17th, 18:30h
Judit Polgar
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Magnus Carlsen
0-1
Xianghzi Bu
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Round 4: Wednesday, October 17th, 19:30h
Sergey Karjakin
1-0
Judit Polgar
Xianghzi Bu
½-½
Magnus Carlsen
Pentala Harikrishna
1-0
Veselin Topalov

On the first day Veselin Topalov beat and then lost to Judit Polgar, Carlsen beat Harikrishna and Bu Xiangzhi defeated Sergey Karjakin. On the second day Karjakin scored against Polgar, Bu against Carlsen and Harikrishna against Topalov.

Many of the games from the first two days were interesting, but there were also some that ended in terrible blunders. Perhaps it was the typing in of moves via the keyboard (as some complained) that distracted the players. Or just one of those things that happen in blindfold chess. We bring you the three most dramatic examples, not in order to belittle the efforts of the players, but to show you something you never witness in regular chess.

Polgar,Ju (2708) - Topalov,V (2769) [C78]
Blindfold World Cup Bilbao ESP (2), 16.10.2007
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bc5 7.c3 d6 8.d4 Bb6 9.Be3 0-0 10.Nbd2 h6 11.Re1 Ng4 12.Nf1 Nxe3 13.Nxe3 Rb8 14.Bd5

14...Bg4?? 15.Nxg4 1-0.

Carlsen,M (2714) - Harikrishna,P (2668) [C09]
Blindfold World Cup Bilbao ESP (2), 16.10.2007
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nc6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Bb5 Bd6 7.dxc5 Qe7+ 8.Be2 Bxc5 9.Nb3 Bb6 10.0-0 Nf6 11.Bb5 0-0 12.Re1 Qb4 13.Bxc6 bxc6 14.Be3 Bxe3 15.Rxe3 c5 16.Ne5 Qb6 17.c4 d4 18.Re2 Bf5 19.Nd3 Bg4 20.f3 Be6 21.Rc1 Rfc8 22.g4 Nd7 23.Qe1 Nf8 24.Qg3 f6 25.Nd2 Bf7 26.f4 Re8 27.Rxe8 Rxe8 28.Re1 Rc8 29.b3 Qa5 30.Ne4 Qxa2 31.Ndxc5 Qa5 32.Nd3 Rd8 33.Qf2 Qb6 34.Nec5

34...Qxb3?? 35.Nxb3 1-0.

Harikrishna,P (2668) - Topalov,V (2769) [B50]
Blindfold World Cup Bilbao ESP (4), 17.10.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.d3 Nf6 5.0-0 g6 6.h3 Bg7 7.c3 0-0 8.Bb3 b5 9.Re1 a5 10.a3 e5 11.Bg5 a4 12.Ba2 h6 13.Bh4 Qe8 14.Nbd2 Be6 15.Nf1 Bxa2 16.Rxa2 Qe6 17.Ra1 Nd7 18.Ne3 Nb6 19.Rc1 Na5 20.g4 Nb3 21.Rb1 d5 22.Qe2 d4 23.cxd4 cxd4 24.Nc2 Rfc8 25.Nb4 f6 26.Bg3 g5 27.Nd2 Bf8 28.Nf1 Bxb4 29.axb4 Rc6 30.Qf3 Nc8 31.Bh2 Ne7 32.Rbd1 Ng6 33.Ng3 Nh4 34.Qh1 Rac8 35.Nf5 Nxf5 36.exf5 Qd6 37.h4 Rc2 38.Bg3 Qd7 39.hxg5 hxg5 40.Qh6 Qg7 41.Qh1 Nd2 42.Re2 Nb3 43.Rxc2 Rxc2 44.Qd5+ Qf7 45.Qxb5

45...Nc5 46.bxc5 1-0.

After the first four rounds, using the traditional point system, the cross table would look like this:

However in Bilbao, as mentioned above, wins count for three points and draws for one. So the scores according to this system are calculated as follows:

Player
Wins
Draw
Loss
Points
1. Xiangzhi Bu
2
2
0
8
2. Sergey Karjakin
1
2
1
5
3. Pentala Harikrishna
1
2
1
5
4. Magnus Carlsen
1
2
1
5
5. Veselin Topalov
1
1
2
4
6. Judit Polgar
1
1
2
4

We applaude the organisers (and probably Silvio Danailov) for staging this experiment. Many chess fans have been calling for the introduction of this system, which is widely used in other sports. For the first time we are able to follow the results and compare them to the traditional scoring. As you can see there is no big difference so far. But we are all keen to see what's coming.


Schedule and results

Round 1: Tuesday, October 16th, 18:30h
Veselin Topalov
1-0
Judit Polgar
Pentala Harikrishna
½-½
Magnus Carlsen
Xiangzhi Bu
1-0
Sergey Karjakin
Round 2: Tuesday, October 16th, 19:30h
Judit Polgar
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Pentala Harikrishna
Sergey Karjakin
½-½
Xiangzhi Bu
Round 3: Wednesday, October 17th, 18:30h
Judit Polgar
½-½
Sergey Karjakin
Magnus Carlsen
0-1
Xianghzi Bu
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Pentala Harikrishna
Round 4: Wednesday, October 17th, 19:30h
Sergey Karjakin
1-0
Judit Polgar
Xianghzi Bu
½-½
Magnus Carlsen
Pentala Harikrishna
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Round 5: Thursday, October 18th, 18:30h
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Judit Polgar
Xianghzi Bu
-
Veselin Topalov
Sergey Karjakin
-
Magnus Carlsen
Round 6: Thursday, October 18th, 19:30h
Judit Polgar
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Veselin Topalov
-
Xianghzi Bu
Magnus Carlsen
-
Sergey Karjakin
Round 7: Friday, October 19th, 18:30h
Judit Polgar
-
Magnus Carlsen
Veselin Topalov
-
Sergey Karjakin
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Xianghzi Bu
Round 8: Friday, October 19th, 19:30h
Magnus Carlsen
-
Judit Polgar
Sergey Karjakin
-
Veselin Topalov
Xianghzi Bu
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Round 9: Saturday, October 20th, 18:30h
Xianghzi Bu
-
Judit Polgar
Sergey Karjakin
-
Pentala Harikrishna
Magnus Carlsen
-
Veselin Topalov
Round 10: Saturday, October 20th, 19:30h
Judit Polgar
-
Xianghzi Bu
Pentala Harikrishna
-
Sergey Karjakin
Veselin Topalov
-
Magnus Carlsen

Links


Topics Bilbao 2007
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