Bilbao R6: Carlsen defeats Aronian, leads in Masters

9/9/2008 – A convincing victory by the player of the year, Magnus Carlsen, brought the young Norwegian to the top of the scoreboard according to the Bilbao system (a win counts for three points, a draw for one). Veselin Topalov, the leader after the first half, is now in second place, after a tough draw against Teimour Radjabov. In the unofficial "Live Ratings" Magnus now leads by six points. Round six report.

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The Chess Grand Slam Final is being staged in Bilbao, Spain, from September 1st to 13th 2008. It is a six-player double round robin event, one of the strongest in the history of the game (at least by Elo average, 2775.6, making it a category 22 tournament). Games start at 17:00h local time (CEST). The scoring system in this tournament is different and experimental. Players get 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 getting €30,000. The sums are unprecedented for an event like this. Only World Championships have exceeded the amount.

A few notes on the strength and category of this tournament

Peter Ballard of Adelaide, Australia draws our attention to the fact that Bilbao is not category 22! "The average rating is 2769, which is category 21. It's only Category 22 if you use the 'Live Ratings', which are totally unofficial. At the very least you should make it clear that it's only Cat 22 if you use the unofficial 'Live Ratings'."

Graeme Cree of Austin, TX, writes: "Your coverage of this tournament describes it as a Category 22 event. It is not. It's Category 21. It only becomes Category 22 if we rely on unofficial live rankings again. FIDE does not do that, and it's not even clear that they should. Updating official ratings after each event would be a good idea, but doing it after each round seems like a bit much. That's debatable, of course, but at least let's do it one way or the other. Having FIDE call it 21 and the press call it 22 is hopelessly confusing."

Jorge Rivera of Grovetown, GA, USA, writes: "It would be good if you do an investigation about the strongest tournaments ever rating-wise. Can you run an article about this? I would love to read it. Thanks!"

We are collecting information on the strongest tournaments ever played. The 1938 AVRO tournament comes to mind, where eight of the world's top players took part: World Champion Alexander Alekhine, former champions José Raúl Capablanca and Max Euwe, and potential challengers Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Reuben Fine, Samuel Reshevsky and Salo Flohr. Or take the following more recent tournament:

Interestingly four of the Bilbao players were participants, albeit with lower pre-inflation ratings. If we are not mistaken they were 1–6 on the FIDE rating list at the time. We hope our readers will be able to shed a more focussed light on the question. Please use "Strongest tournaments" as the subject line of any feedback you send us.


Round six report

Round 6: Monday, 8th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Teimour Radjabov
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0 
 Levon Aronian


Vishy Anand vs Vassily Ivanchuk in round six of the Final Chess Masters

Ivanchuk-Anand was a staid draw, with Ivanchuk making a token effort to gain advantage and Anand thwarting this effectively for a 32-move draw.


Veselin Topalov and Teimour Radjabov at the start of a marathon game

Topalov-Radjabov was more volatile, with the Bulgarian GM looking set to chalk up another victory in Bilbao. But after massive trade-offs after the time control Black had solved all his problems and in fact undertook some tentative attempts to play for a win. The draw came with a repetition at move 73.

Carlsen,M (2775) - Aronian,L (2737) [D47]
Grand Slam Final Bilbao ESP (6), 08.09.2008
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bb7 9.a3 b4 10.Ne4 Nxe4 11.Bxe4 bxa3 12.0-0 Nf6 13.Bd3 axb2 14.Bxb2 a5

White has sacrificed a pawn, which is part of theory, but now Magnus Carlsen uncorks a novelty which involves sacrificing a second one: 15.d5!!? The only previous game we could find was Gelfand,B-Kramnik,V, Mexico City 2007, which continued 15.Qa4 Bb4 16.Ba3 Nd5 17.e4 Nb6 18.Qb3 Qe7 19.Rab1 Bxa3 20.Qxb6 Bb4 21.Ne1 0-0 22.Nc2 Rfd8 23.Nxb4 axb4 24.Qxb4 Qxb4 25.Rxb4 Ba6 26.Bxa6 draw.

15...Nxd5 16.Ne5 Nf6 17.Qa4 Bb4 18.Nxc6 Bxc6 19.Qxc6+ Ke7. The novelty, which is sure to be subjected to CAT scans in the near future, has vindicated itself already in this game. Aronian's king is stuck in the middle and White, now just one pawn down, has a blistering attack. 20.Rfd1 Rc8 21.Qf3 Qb6 22.Bd4 Qb8 23.Ba6 Rcd8 24.Bb7 h5 25.h3 h4 26.Rab1 e5

27.Rxb4! axb4? This is suicidal. 27...exd4 was the move to play if Black believed he could fight on. 28.Bc5+ Ke6 29.Ra1 Rd6 30.Bxd6 Kxd6 31.Qc6+ Ke7 32.Ra8

Can you imagine how this must feel? Of course Black is completely lost. 32...Qd6 33.Qxd6+ Kxd6 34.Rxh8 b3 35.Ba6 Nd7 36.Rxh4 Nc5 1-0.

All pictures by Nadja Wittmann in Bilbao

Bilbao scores

Player
games
wins
draws 
losses
points
Magnus Carlsen
6
3
2
1
11
Veselin Topalov
6
2
4
0
10
Levon Aronian
6
1
3
2
6
Vishy Anand
6
0
5
1
5
Teimur Radjabov
6
0
5
1
5
Vassily Ivanchuk
6
0
5
1
5

Traditional scores (for rating purposes)

In the Live Ratings Magnus Carlsen remains in first place and has increased his lead over Vishy Anand to almost six points. Astonishingly all this is being achieved while he is still suffering from the Moscow bug, which a visit to the Town Hall doctor, which took place earlier today, will hopefully alleviate. Anyone else reminded of Bolt winning the 100 meters with an untied shoe?


Video reports and interviews by Europe Echecs

These reports are being produced by Vijay Kumar for the French chess magazine Europe Echecs


Schedule and results

Round 1: Tuesday, 2nd September 2008
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Levon Aronian 
0-1
 Magnus Carlsen
Round 2: Wednesday, 3rd September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Teimour Radjabov
Round 3: Thursday, 4th September 2008
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Levon Aronian 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Magnus Carlsen 
 0-1
 Veselin Topalov
Round 4: Friday, 5th September 2008
Levon Aronian 
1-0
 Vassily Ivanchuk
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0
 Teimour Radjabov
Veselin Topalov 
1-0
 Vishy Anand
Round 5: Saturday, 6th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Veselin Topalov
Vishy Anand 
½-½
 Magnus Carlsen
Teimour Radjabov 
½-½
 Levon Aronian
Round 6: Monday, 8th September 2008
Vassily Ivanchuk 
½-½
 Vishy Anand
Veselin Topalov 
½-½
 Teimour Radjabov
Magnus Carlsen 
1-0 
 Levon Aronian
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

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