Carlsen To Face Karjakin Twice Next Month In Bilbao

Carlsen To Face Karjakin Twice Next Month In Bilbao

| 46 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, the two rivals in this year's world championship match, will play their first games since Karjakin became Carlsen's challenger in next month's tournament in Bilbao, Spain. The Masters Final will also feature Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, and Wei Yi this year.

The press release came out ten days ago, but there was too much other news going on to give it the attention it deserved. Now that the Grand Chess Tour events in Paris and Leuven have finished, it's time to look forward. After seeing the world champion's dominant performance against Tigran Petrosian in our very own GM Blitz Battle Championships, many around the world are excited and anxiously asking the same question:

Q: Where will Magnus Carlsen play next?  A: The Masters Final in Bilbao, Spain!

There's a lot of good news to mention here. For starters, the tournament in Bilbao re-expanded from four to six players, as in its early years. Next, the world champion is playing. To make things even better, the tournament is a double round robin, so Carlsen will face the challenger from his next title match, Sergey Karjakin, twice in Bilbao.

There's also Hikaru Nakamura, who is still looking for his first classical win against Carlsen; meanwhile Carlsen is still looking for his first win against another participant: Anish Giri. Furthermore, we'll see Wesley So (the runner-up in Leuven behind Carlsen!) and the Chinese rising star Wei Yi. Chess reporters won't have to think long to craft story lines.

2016 Masters Final, Bilbao | Participants

# Name Fed Rtg Born
1 Magnus Carlsen NOR 2855 1990
2 Hikaru Nakamura USA 2787 1987
3 Anish Giri NED 2782 1994
4 Sergey Karjakin RUS 2774 1990
5 Wesley So USA 2770 1993
6 Wei Yi CHN 2694 1999

The tournament will take place July 13-23 at, like last year, the beautiful Campos Eliseos Theatre. Opened in 1902 and reopened in March 2010, it is one of the most important venues in Bilbao and one of the most technically advanced in Spain. The Villa de Bilbao, an open tournament for 140 participants, will take place alongside the main event. Entry for spectators is free.

The tournament, which became famous for its glass cube in the old town square of Bilbao, will be held for the ninth time. Re-expanding from four to six top grandmasters was possible thanks to renewed support from the Bilbao City Council, the Provincial Council of the Basque country, and other public and corporate sponsors.

The defending champion is So, who defeated Giri in a playoff last year. Carlsen won in 2011 and 2012. Levon Aronian won the tournament twice, in 2009 and 2013. Three ex-world champions are among the winners as well: Veselin Topalov (2008), Vladimir Kramnik (2010) and Viswanathan Anand (2014).

Here's a promo video:

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