Chess Masters Final in Sao Paulo and Bilbao

by ChessBase
9/14/2012 – Five of the world's best players will be there: World Champion Vishy Anand, world number one Magnus Carlsen, number two Levon Aronian, number seven Sergey Karjakin and eight Fabiano Caruana. Joining them will be the ever creative Paco Vallejo. The double round robin is split between São Paulo, Brazil, and Bilbao, Spain. It starts on September 23 and is played in a glass cube.

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Five of the eight best chess players in the world to compete in
the 5th Masters Final in Sao Paulo and Bilbao

Sao Paulo and Bilbao will this year once again host the Grand Slam Chess Masters Final, making both cities for the second consecutive year the world Chess capitals. The tournament will be played via a double half-robin league. The Brazilian megalopolis will host the first half from September 24 to 29 and the second and defining half will be played in Bilbao from October 8 to 13.

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Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo View Larger Map

The venues

The speciality of the Chess Masters Final are the very special venus and the playing area, which is essentially a large, sound-proof glass cube. During the first two editions of the Masters Final in Bilbao the cube was located in the Plaza Nueva, a crowded square in the city centre. Since then, it was moved to La Alhondiga, a very modern and popular cultural centre, also in the city centre.

In the Sao Paulo's half the venue will be the huge Ibirapuera Park (similar to Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York) as it was last year, very successfully:

The idea of taking the players to venues where there is a lot of public (and to put them in a glass cube to shield them from the noise) came originally from Spanish journalist and chess organiser Leontxo Garcia:

Leontxo: "If Mohammad can't go to the mountain, let the mountain come to Mohammad" – that was the thought that came to me during a long talk with my colleague Frederic Friedel on a plane to Mexico. I proposed the glass cube to the Bilbao organizers: if crowds do not go to chess, let chess come to where the crowds are.

The glass cube, with good lighting, air conditioning and no external noise at all, allows one to install the commentators' position (the Agora) very close to the players without disturbing them at all players. The commentators can combine the technical comments with questions from the spectators and the Internet audience, debates, etc., as well as interviews, with all the players immediately after the game."

The idea of the Bilbao scoring system (3-1-0) comes from one of the organisers, Josu Fernández (above left), whose brother Juan Carlos (right) is the tournament director. Leontxo Garcia: "I think the Bilbao scoring system has one big advantage: it stimulates the players to fight, even when they are far away from the first place with still some rounds to play. But it also has two important drawbacks: it is unfair in cases of long fighting (and brilliant) draws, and there is a temptation for cheating on double round tournaments (I will beat you on the first half, and you will beat me on the second). However, thathas never happened, as far as I know. I think the best way to prevent unfoughrt draws in top tournaments would be a serious agreement among the top tournaments organizers: a player who stands out because of his no fighting spirit will not be invited to any top tournament for the next one or two years, even if he is the world champion. If such an agreement is not reached, and if all the top players do not understand that such an attitude must disappear, the Sofia rule, the Bilbao system and similar ideas are needed."

The very creative and successful idea of helping Basque companies open markets in other countries in return for chess sponsorship came from Andoni Madariaga, Director of the Chess Maters Final.


Player Country
Magnus Carlsen Norway
Levon Aronian Armenia
Viswanathan Anand India
Sergey Karjakin Russia
Fabiano Caruana Italy
Francisco Vallejo Spain


1st leg: Sao Paulo, Ibirapuera Park
September 23: Opening
September 24: 1st round
September 25: 2nd round
September 26: 3rd round
September 27: Rest day
September 28: 4th round
September 29: 5th round
2nd leg: Bilbao, Alhóndiga
October 07: Opening
October 08: 6th round
October 09: 7th round
October 10:,8th round
October 11: Rest day
October 12: 9th round
October 13: 10th round


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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