Master Class Garry Kasparov

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Bu Xiangzhi wins Blindfold Chess World Cup in Bilbao

10/21/2007 – He led the event from start to finish, and until the last round had not lost a single game (performing, incidentally, at almost 3000 Elo). But even the last-round loss to Judit Polgar could not stop the remarkable Chinese GM from taking first. Meanwhile Sergey Karjakin overtook his great rival Magnus Carlsen to win Silver. Final report.
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Bilbao Blindfold Chess World Cup

The Bilbao Blindfold Chess World Cup took 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 was 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 were 25 minutes per player for the entire game plus 10 seconds increment per move.

All results from rounds 9 and 10 (final)

Round 9: Saturday, October 20th, 18:30h
Bu Xiangzhi
1-0
Judit Polgar
Sergey Karjakin
1-0
Pentala Harikrishna
Magnus Carlsen
1-0
Veselin Topalov
Round 10: Saturday, October 20th, 19:30h
Judit Polgar
1-0
Bu Xiangzhi
Pentala Harikrishna
0-1
Sergey Karjakin
Veselin Topalov
½-½
Magnus Carlsen

Round nine was remarkable, with all games won by White. The Chinese former child prodigy Bu Xiangzhi put an end to all our theoretical scenarios by winning his first Saturday night game against Judit Polgar, thus reaching a point score that nobody could come near. At that stage the astounding Bu had scored 7.5 points from nine games, with a rating performance of 2990 (i.e. he achieved a result against a field of 2710 average GMs that you would expect from a player rated 2990). Meanwhile Magnus Carlsen, the youngest player in the tournament, defeated former FIDE world champion Veselin Topalov quite convincingly, and seemed well on the way to occupying second place. Pentala Harikrishna continued his grim fight for last place with a loss to Ukrainian GM Sergey Karjakin.

In the final round Judit Polgar, the strongest female player in history, by a long margin, fought hard to take back a point from Bu. The Chinese player suffered his first and only loss in this event. Sergey Karjakin won his second game against the luckless Harikrishna, and since Magnus Carlsen drew against Topalov he was overtaken by Karjakin according to the Bilbao scoring rules (see below).

Picture Gallery


The community of Bilbao at the end of the 16th Century


Bilbao today, with la ría del Nervión – the Nervión river, which flows through the city


The Plaza Moya with a grand fountain in front of the government building


The most famous landmark of Bilbao: the wild and beautiful Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art


A giant puppy made of plants and flowers in front of the Guggenheim


The winner of the World Blindfold Cup: Bu Xiangzhi


How does he do it? Judit Polgar and Magnus Carlsen watch Bu at play


Sergey Karjakin, who overtook Magnus Carlsen (right) in the last round


Magnus Carlsen at work during a blindfold game


Out of luck: former FIDE champion Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria)

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

Final results

Using the traditional point system, the final cross table would look like this:

In Bilbao wins counted 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
6
3
1
21
2. Sergey Karjakin
5
2
3
17
3. Magnus Carlsen
4
4
2
16
4. Judit Polgar
3
3
4
12
5. Veselin Topalov
2
3
5
9
6. Pentala Harikrishna
1
3
6
6

There is one clear difference between both tables. Before the final two rounds Magnus Carlsen had been in second place, half a point ahead of Sergey Karjakin on the traditional table and one point ahead in the Bilbao system. In the last two rounds Carlsen won one game and drew the second, while Karjakin won both games. On the traditional table Krajakin caught up with Carlsen, though he had a slightly worse tiebreak score. On the Bilbao table he overtook Carlsen – that is the point of wins counting more than double that of draws – and landed clear second.

So what effect did the Bilbao system have on the draw statistics. After all this is the reason for introducing the three-points-for-a-win system. Here are the statistics:

As you can cee the drawing percentage is extremely low, just 30%, which would seem to convincingly justify the scoring system. On the other hand in blindfold chess errors occur very frequently and lead to fewer draws than would occur if the players could see the board. So the jury must remain out on the advantages of the scoring system. It would be interesting to stage a few high-profile tournaments with high prize funds – no appearence fees – to see if players will change their styles, avoid draws and go for the money.


Schedule and results

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

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