The opening ceremony of Linares, one of the most prestigious chess tournaments in the world, takes place today.
The tournament has slimmed down this year from eight players to six, as the credit crunch continues to bite. For a while it was quite possible that the event might even be cancelled, after a plan to split the event with Dubai came to naught.
So who will be gracing the boards at Linares 2010? Top seed is former World Champion Veselin Topalov (pictured), who we haven't seen much action from lately as he prepares for his match with champion Vishy Anand in April.
Back as defending champion is Alexander Grischuk, who has been showing very impressive form lately. Perhaps his flirtation with professional poker may be put further on the backburner if he continues his winning chess exploits.
Also returning from last year is the popular Armenian Lev Aronian. Aronian had a disappointing Linares in 2009, but at #5 in the world he is always a contender in any tournament.
Three time Azerbaijan champion, Vugar Gashimov has been quietly making a name for himself for a number of years, and now gets a chance to shine in a prestigious invitation event.
World Cup winner Boris Gelfand is another regular top-10 player gracing Linares this year. At 41, Gelfand is the veteran of the field and provided the chess picture of 2009, which I now have an excuse to use again...
Finally, rounding out the field of six is local hopeful Francisco Vallejo Pons.
|Francisco Vallejo Pons
The double round-robin tournament runs from 13-24 February with rest days on the 17th and 22nd. Games start at 4pm local time (CET) in Spain, and IM David Pruess will provide live coverage of round 1, tomorrow at 8:30 AM Pacific, at www.chess.com/tv.
A live relay of the moves is also available at the official website here.