Carlsen and Karjakin clash in Bilbao

by ChessBase
6/15/2016 – In November Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin will play for the World Championship, in July they will clash in one of the strongest tournaments of the year: The Bilbao Grand Slam Masters Final, a six-player double round robin with a fantastic line-up. The four players who compete with Carlsen and Karjakin are Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Wesley So and Wei Yi. Press Release...

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Press Release, 15th June 2016

In July, the 9th Bilbao Grand Slam Masters Final, the leading competition within the event Bilbao Chess, will host the only duel between the reigning world chess champion, the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, and the official challenger to the title, the Russian Serguéi Kariakin, before they meet again in New York next November in a fight for the universal title.

Thanks to this world exclusive encounter, Bilbao and its Grand Slam Masters Final is one of the top events in this year’s international chess calendar, along with the individual World Championship.

Bilbao’s international status as a chess capital will be further boosted by the strongest competitive line-up in recent years. The reigning and twice world champion Carlsen and his Russian challenger (a status which has been fully merited by Kariakin after his recent win at the Candidates Tournament in Moscow, in which he defeated the rest of the world’s elite, including the champion Anand), will be joined by the winner of last year’s event, the American of Philippine origin Wesley So, Anish Giri, the Dutch grand master who was defeated by the latter in the 2015 tie-break and the American of Japanese origin Hikaru Nakamura, all of whom are ranked among the top ten in the world, who will also fight to win the Masters Final prestigious txapela. And alongside these well-renowned young grand masters, who are all in their twenties, the rising star of world chess: Yi Wei, the 16-year-old Chinese teenager, who is already the Olympic and absolute champion in his country, the sport’s new world power.

Thanks to the renewed support of the Bilbao City Council and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, alongside other public and corporate sponsors, the 9th Chess Masters Final, a tournament which is part of the event Bilbao Chess 2016, returns to its original format of six players. It will take place between 13 and 23 July, and the Campos Elíseos Theatre will once again host the tournament for the second consecutive year, after last year’s success.
Located in the centre of the theatre’s seating area, known as “La Bombonera” of Bilbao, which has been converted and prepared for the event, in an unusual image for international chess tournaments, the Masters Final will be surrounded by approximately 140 competitors, professionals and enthusiasts, who will all fight for victory at one of the most compelling open tournaments taking place this year in the city, the 9th Villa de Bilbao Open.

Today, Bilbao Chess 2016 has been presented in the capital of Bizkaia by two of the event’s main collaborators, the Bilbao City Council and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, represented, respectively, by the Councillor for Economic Development, Trade and Employment, Xabier Ochandiano, and the Director for Foreign Promotion and Tourism, Asier Alea. Alongside them, the six-time Basque Chess champion Santi González de la Torre provided further details about the event as the spokesman, in turn, of the Bilbao E-4 Chess Club, the event’s sports organiser.

Both the municipal representative, Xabier Ochandiano, and the provincial representative, Asier Alea, emphasised that “The organisation of this type of event is strategic for the public institutions of Bilbao and Bizkaia, in which events such as the Masters Final run simultaneously and reciprocally, bringing together the best in world chess, with tournaments that enable a more open and extensive participation. This complementarity, which is both elitist and popular, helps us to attract a higher number of competitors and visitors and, at the same time, to promote our image on a global level in a thematic niche, such as chess, which, to a greater or lesser extent, attracts the attention of 500 million people across the world, some of whom also follow live Internet broadcasts of the Bilbao tournaments”.

In fact, this year the event’s organisers hope to beat the multimillion live following of the Masters Final, both on the official website and on the world’s main chess media platforms. Besides these millions of followers throughout the world, every afternoon between 13 and 23 July thousands of enthusiasts will visit the Campos Theatre to witness this unrivalled chess spectacle at the venue itself, free of charge. The two direct duels between Magnus Carlsen and Serguéi Kariakin, in their only competitive match in their fight for the world title in November, are an added bonus.

Both, who are regulars at Bilbao Chess since they debuted in the world of chess as teenagers, faced each other at the 2012 Masters Final, won by the Norwegian in an exciting tie-break against the Italian-American Fabiano Caruana. Despite his ultimate victory, Carlsen was not able to beat Kariakin in either of their two matches which ended in stalemate, both the one that was played during the first round, in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, and the return match in Bilbao.

Among the list of tournament winners, number 1 of the ranking and reigning world champion, Carlsen, has two txapelas, obtained in 2011 and 2012, the same number as those won (in 2009 and 2013) by the twice Olympic champion, the Armenian Lévon Aronian. Last year’s winner, the American Wesley So is among those with one txapela, along with the Bulgarian Veselin Topálov (in 2008) the Russian Vladimir Kramnik (in 2010) and the Indian Viswanathan Anand (in 2014), the last two both former world champions.

Alongside So, Kariakin and Carlsen, who starts the tournament as the clear favourite, the American Hiraku Nakamura, the Dutch Anish Giri and the Chinese teenager Yi Wei will also fight to form part of the Bilbao chess Olympus. The latter, though still far from the most select elite, is considered by highly renowned chess specialists as the strongest candidate in the near future to dispute and even seize the world title from Magnus Carlsen, who, in turn, endeavours to become the best chess player in history.

The Masters Final and the “Villa de Bilbao” Open, as part of Bilbao Chess 2016, run simultaneously thanks to two successful experiences in 2014 and 2015, when the Bilbao Grand Slam Masters Final was hosted alongside the European Club Cup, which brought together 400 players from around thirty countries, and the Iberoamerican Individual Chess Championship, which last year featured 120 chess players from 23 Latin American federations.

For further information: Isabel Amatria (655740911) and Gerardo Fernández Llana (615757219)

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