Aronian beats Vallejo in first round Masters Final

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

Levon Aronian took an early lead at the Grand Slam Masters Final on Monday. At the Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo, the Armenian grandmaster defeated Francisco Vallejo of Spain in round 1. The games Vishy Anand vs Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura vs Vassily Ivanchuk ended in draws.

General info

Event4th Grand Slam Masters Final  | PGN via TWIC
DatesSeptember 25th - October 11th, 2011
LocationSao Paulo, Brazil & Bilbao, Spain
System6-player double round robin
PlayersCarlsen, Anand, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Nakamura, Vallejo
Time control90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 60 minutes to finish the game, with 10 seconds increment per move from move number 41
NotesPlayers are not allowed to agree to a draw without the arbiter’s permission. In case both players request it to him, the arbiter will make his decision after consulting with the technical assistant. The football scoring system is used: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss.

Round 1

And then it started. And then... six super strong chess grandmasters were suddenly shuffling wood in the middle of a park in Brazil! How on earth did they end up there? Well, it's all about the sponsors, and the booming Brazilian economy. The Grand Slam Masters Final is being sponsored by dozens of Basque companies, and this year they thought it was a good idea to meet with colleagues in Brazil. Last year a similar business exchange was organized in Shanghai, as China is of course another booming economy.

In the third edition, last year, the infamous glass cube was dropped but this time it's back. Both in the Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo and the Bilbao Alhóndiga the players will again be executing their moves in a sound-proof 'aquarium'. This makes it possible to set up a commentary booth right next to the 'playing hall', where Spanish journalist Leontxo Garcia and guests are explaining the games during the rounds, and talking to the players after the games.

The only winner of the first day was also the only player missing at the start of the first round. Levon Aronian, who defeated Paco Vallejo in a nice game, appeared minutes late at the board. Afterwards he explained it as follows:

I overestimated my chances. I missed some little nuances on the way here.

Later Magnus Carlsen would send the following tweet:

White against Aronian next. Aronian got lost on his way to the cube today, I'll try to make him get lost in the complications tomorrow

Aronian, faced with a rare line of the Slav, sacrificed a pawn for long-term compensation. It worked rather well: Vallejo didn't find the best way to untangle his queenside and also needed a lot of time on the clock. In a position where he could grab a healthy pawn, Aronian instead went for a full attack on the enemy king. Vallejo defended well in horrible time trouble but couldn't avoid ending up in a bad ending. Perhaps he could have played that ending better, but practically speaking it was lost from the start.

Sao Paulo, 2011


The other two games were much less interesting. Hikaru Nakamura and Vassily Ivanchuk got a unique position after seven moves already, but in the early middlegame the whole centre was exchanged.

Sao Paulo, 2011





Nakamura & Kasparov

After the game Leontxto Garcia asked Nakamura if the rumours were true that he was working with Garry Kasparov. The American grandmaster said that he would 'not comment' and people could 'believe the rumours if they wanted to'. In our opinion this answer makes it even more likely to be true - why wouldn't Nakamura just say no if it wasn't true?

Anand-Carlsen had little to offer, except for Berlin Wall diehard fans who know all the subtleties of the ending and its many transpositions.

Sao Paulo, 2011


Red Hot Chilli Peppers

As pulern pointed out in the comments below, Carlsen had a nice way of warming up for the tournament. On Friday night, together with his manager Espen Agdestein, he attended the festival Rock in Rio where he met band members of Snow Patrol and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Carlsen also played with members of the Peppers, and was 'genuinly suprised' about the good level of their play!  You can read more about it in the Google Translate version of the article in the Norwegian newspaper VG.

Grand Slam Masters Final 2011 | Schedule & results

Round 126.09.1120:00 CET Round 606.10.1116:00 CET
Nakamura½-½Ivanchuk Ivanchuk-Nakamura
Anand½-½Carlsen Carlsen-Anand
Aronian1-0Vallejo Vallejo-Aronian
Round 227.09.1120:00 CET Round 707.10.1116:00 CET
Ivanchuk-Vallejo Vallejo-Ivanchuk
Carlsen-Aronian Aronian-Carlsen
Nakamura-Anand Anand-Nakamura
Round 328.09.1120:00 CET Round 808.10.1116:00 CET
Anand-Ivanchuk Ivanchuk-Anand
Aronian-Nakamura Nakamura-Aronian
Vallejo-Carlsen Carlsen-Vallejo
Round 430.09.1120:00 CET Round 910.10.1116:00 CET
Aronian-Ivanchuk Carlsen-Ivanchuk
Vallejo-Anand Vallejo-Nakamura
Carlsen-Nakamura Aronian-Anand
Round 501.10.1120:00 CET Round 1011.10.1116:00 CET
Ivanchuk-Carlsen Ivanchuk-Aronian
Nakamura-Vallejo Anand-Vallejo
Anand-Aronian Nakamura-Carlsen

Standings after round 1
1  Levon Aronian 3
2-5  Anand, Carlsen, Nakamura, Ivanchuk 1
6  Vallejo 0

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