Grand Slam Chess Association confirms Linares 2012, sets dates for Masters Final

PeterDoggers
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The Grand Slam Chess Association announced on Sunday that the world famous tournament in Linares, Spain will be held again this year, after it was cancelled in 2011. The Association also communicated the dates for the 5th Grand Slam Masters Final, and requested FIDE to "avoid any conflicts with our schedules".

The following press release was distributed on Sunday to the journalists who were present in the press room in Wijk aan Zee for the Tata Steel tournament:

PRESS RELEASE

The Grand Slam Chess Association (GSCA) had a meeting in Wijk aan Zee on Saturday January 28th. The representatives of four top tournaments (Tata Steel-Wijk aan Zee, Ciudad de Linares, Kings-Bazna and Bilbao (Masters Final) discussed about several matters. The most important ones are the following:

  1. The 75th edition of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament will be from 11th up to and including 27th of January. The GSCA warmly congratulated the Organizing Committee on this important achievement.
     
  2. Linares will share the 2012 tournament with a Mexican city, starting most likely at the second half of April. The venue and dates will be concreted soon.
     
  3. Just as in four previous years, Bilbao will also host the 5th edition of the Masters Final, from September 24th to October 13th, with six players, in a double round-robin. Negotiations are being held with several countries to share the tournament, as it happened very successfully in 2010 with Shanghai and 2011 with Sao Paulo.

    Carlsen and Kramnik have been already invited as winners of the Tal Memorial-Moscow 2011 and the London Classics 2011, respectively. The winner of the World Championship Anand-Gelfand will also be invited. The remaining three places will be for the winners of Tata Steel 2012, Linares 2012 and Kings-Bazna 2012. If the same player wins more than one tournament, the highest-ranked second place finisher from one of these tournaments according to the July 2012 list will be awarded a spot. If all the second-place finishers have already earned spots in the 2012 Masters Final by other means, the Organizing Committee will decide who gets the spot by direct invitation.
     
  4. Given that FIDE has not announced yet the dates for the Candidates Tournament, we will send this press release to FIDE today. We expect FIDE will avoid any conflicts with our schedules.

Wijk aan Zee, January 29th 2012

Signed by:

Jeroen Van den Berg -Tata Steel Chess Director
Juan Fernandez - Mayor of Linares
Elisabeta Polihroniade- Kings Bazna Director
Juan Carlos Fernandez - Bilbao Masters Final Director

The information about the future of the Tata Steel tournament is not different from what was expressed by CEO and Managing Director of Tata Steel Europe Dr Karl-Ulrich Köhler, during the opening ceremony in Wijk aan Zee two weeks ago. The tournament will be held for at least one more year, and considering the fact that it's the 75th jubilee edition, that's no surprise. At a press conference on Sunday afternoon, tournament director Jeroen van den Berg once again said that he didn't know anything yet about the year after.

It's great news to see that the Linares tournament wasn't taken off the calendar for good. It's one of the longest running top tournaments with a wonderful history. The connection with Mexico is not new: in the past there was a cooperation with the city of Morelia, for three years. Apparently a similar concept, where two cities share the organization and finances, will be repeated.

The very same set-up will again be the case for the Grand Slam final as well: the second half will, as always, take place in Bilbao but the other city (in previous years Shanghai and Sao Paulo) is yet to be announced.

And so the calendar for 2012 is, like last year, completey out of balance. Only two elite events (Wijk aan Zee and Bazna) and one more big tournament (the European Championship) are scheduled for the first half of the year, and many more for the second half, such as Biel, Dortmund, the Olympiad, the European Club Cup, the European Team Championship, the Tal Memorial, the London Chess Classic and... the FIDE Candidates tournament. It's understandable that the Grand Slam Chess Association urges FIDE to avoid an overlap with one of their events, but it won't be easy!

Update: On Tuesday morning, January 31st the GSCA distributed an updated version of the press release via email, in which it is confirmed that Levon Aronian qualified for the Grand Slam Masters Final by winning the Tata Steel tournament. Besides, we forgot to mention that because of their planned match (which we mentioned in our Tata round 11 report), Levon Aronian and Vladimir Kramnik will probably not be able to play Linares/Mexico.

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