Bilbao R1: Carlsen beats Aronian (video added!)

0 | Chess Event Coverage
Magnus Carlsen started his Grand Slam Final superbly. With the black pieces he beat Levon Aronian to gain his first three points in the standings. Radjabov-Topalov and Anand-Ivanchuk were drawn. Video added.

A very special tournament has started. The first round of the Grand Slam Final was played yesterday and this super tournament will last until September 13. Viswanathan Anand, Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen, Vassily Ivanchuk, Teimour Radjabov and Veselin Topalov play a double round-robin for a prize money of 400,000 Euro. In a class cube, at the Plaza Nueva, in the heart of the Old Town of Bilbao, Spain.

I must say that it was a very special experience indeed. OK, I had seen an identical "aquarium" before in Sofia, but the fact that this tournament is being held outside, out in the open, where everyone can just walk by, chat, laugh, and even scream, just a few meters from the players, that's almost surreal.

The players were not too positive about it after their first game, mainly because of a terrible smell of paint that was inside the cube for the whole round. They were certainly affected by it, and furthermore, during the first hour the cube wasn't completely sound-proof either. During the game Anand had mentioned to Radjabov that he could hear commentator Leontxo Garcia word for word! And since Vishy speaks Spanish fluently, that could have influenced the game...

It's not likely that many tournaments will start using a cube like this in the street, but I must say that chess might well benefit from it. Many Bilbao citizens got introduced to the game of chess for the first time and they were clearly enjoying what was going on at the plaza. Two Dutch tourists I met, were watching the scene for hours, until the round finished.

Here's the first video I just finished:

Let's go to the games. Carlsen had an excellent start by beating Aronian with the black pieces. Aronian thought he had a big advantage after the opening, but his pawn sacrifice was "probably the worst way" of dealing with it, as he put it. Carlsen thought Black was doing fine after that and expected White to force a queen exchange somewhere, after which the rook ending should be drawn.

r1_aronian_carlsen At the start, Aronian wasn't wearing his glasses yet.

Radjabov's opening choice was a bit of a surprise: the Scotch. After his 10.Qe4 Topalov easily proved that Black has no big problems in this position when he plays accuratly (as a few grandmasters didn't, in previous games). Due to the Sofia rule the players had to continue much longer than normal and there wasn't really anybody enjoying that last phase I think.

r1_radjabov_topalov The games attracted many spectators but the players didn't really seem influenced

The end of Anand-Ivanchuk was a bit strange. Because the Ukrainian noticed that he had only 22 seconds left on the clock, and realized that in Bilbao there's no increment, he offered a draw in a position with a pawn up, but with still some play. Anand accepted of course, but the Sofia rule seems to say that players have to continue in such a position. However, technical advisor GM Javier Moreno, who assists the arbiter in such situations (like Azmaiparashvili at the Grand Prix tournaments), naturally declared it a draw anyway.

r1_ivanchuk_anand Anand had a lucky escape in the first round

Results Round 1 Aronian-Carlsen 0-3 Anand-Ivanchuk 1-1 Radjabov-Topalov 1-1


Pairings Round 2 Ivanchuk - Carlsen Topalov - Aronian Anand - Radjabov


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