Bilbao Grand Slam starts today

9/2/2008 – It is one of the strongest chess tournaments ever: six players averaging 2775.6 Elo points, making it a Category XXII event. The games are being played in the middle of the town square, in a sound-proof glass cabin. The scoring system is unusual, with three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. The prize fund? A cool 400,000 Euros (US $585,000). First pictorial report from Bilbao.

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Grand Slam Chess
Final Masters Bilbao

The Chess Grand Slam Final is being staged in Bilbao, Spain, from September 1st to 13th 2008. It is a six-player round robin event, possibly the strongest in the history of the game. The Elo average is 2775.6, making it a category XXII (22) tournament. Games start at 17:00h local time (CEST). There are two rest days.

The venue of the event is the Plaza Nueva in the centre of Bilbao's Old Town. To make it possible to play, a huge sound-proofed and air-conditioned glass enclosure has been built, under a marquee to protect the players from the summer sun.

The scoring system in this tournament is different and experimental. Players receive three points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for losing a game. For rating purposes the traditional 1-½-0 system will be used.

The prize fund for the event is 400,000 Euros, with the winner receiving €150,000, the second place €70,000, etc. with the 6th player winning €30,000. The sums are unprecedented for an event like this. Only World Championships have exceeded the amount.

Full details on the tournament can be found in our previous report.

Building the "aquarium"


The pavilion under which the glass playing cubicle (the "aquarium") is being constructed


Workers setting up the glass enclosure that will house the players


Special sound-proofing material is being used


The whole event takes place in the middle of the Plaza Nueva – the town square


Bilbao is famous for its Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art...


... and its stunning modern architectural elements...


... including this entrance to an underground passage


But you also find beautiful traditional and historic parts in the city


... with buildings like this one, adjacent to glass-and-steel structures

The arrival of the players


Anand and his wife Aruna arrive in Bilbao


Levon Aronian, Leon Hoyos and Vassily Ivanchuk (Leon is Vassily's second)


Henrik Carlsen and his chess-playing son Magnus


Veselin Topalov and his manager Silvio Danialov, who is one of the main initiators of the event


The drawing of lots with soccer balls (Radjabov, Aronian, Carlsen, Anand, Ivanchuk, Topalov)


A group photo after the draw (Lev, Magnus, Teimour, Vassily, Vishy, Veselin)


Vassily Ivanchuk thoroughly enjoying it all


Afterwards the players inspect the venue


Everything seems to be fine, no?


Lev, Vishy and Aruna in the aquarium


You really can't hear a thing in here – Veselin, Magnus and Henrik


A view from the outside at the people in the glass enclosure


Aruna and Anand (with former Women's World Champion Susan Polgar, left)


Henrik and Magnus Carlsen


Teimour Radjabov and his father Boris

All pictures by Nadja Woisin in Bilbao

Schedule and results

Round 1: Tuesday, 2nd September 2008
Vishy Anand 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Teimour Radjabov 
 Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
 Magnus Carlsen
Games – Report
Round 2: Wednesday, 3rd September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Magnus Carlsen
Veselin Topalov 
 Levon Aronian
Vishy Anand 
 Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report
Round 3: Thursday, 4th September 2008
Teimour Radjabov 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
 Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
 Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 4: Friday, 5th September 2008
Levon Aronian 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
 Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov 
 Vishy Anand
Games – Report
Round 5: Saturday, 6th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand 
 Magnus Carlsen
Teimour Radjabov 
 Levon Aronian
Games – Report
Round 6: Monday, 8th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
 Teimour Radjabov
Magnus Carlsen 
 Levon Aronian
Games – Report
Round 7: Tuesday, 9th September 2008
Magnus Carlsen 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
 Veselin Topalov
Teimour Radjabov 
 Vishy Anand
Games – Report
Round 8: Wednesday, 10th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Teimour Radjabov
Vishy Anand 
 Levon Aronian
Veselin Topalov 
 Magnus Carlsen
Games – Report
Round 9: Friday, 12th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
 Levon Aronian
Teimour Radjabov 
 Magnus Carlsen
Vishy Anand 
 Veselin Topalov
Games – Report
Round 10: Saturday, 13th September 2008
Veselin Topalov 
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
 Vishy Anand
Levon Aronian 
 Teimour Radjabov
Games – Report

Links

The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.



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