Grand Slam Masters Final: Karjakin out, Ivanchuk & Vallejo in

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Bilbao Masters FinalAll participants of the 2011 Grand Slam Masters Final were confirmed today by the organizers: Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian, Magnus Carlsen, Vassily Ivanchuk, Hikaru Nakamura and Francisco Vallejo Pons. Both Sergey Karjakin, who had qualified for the tournament, and Vladimir Kramnik, the winner last year, declined invitations.

At the end of June the organizers wrote that five of the six participants in the upcoming Grand Slam Masters Final were known: Anand, Aronian, Carlsen, Karjakin and Nakamura.

Carlsen had qualified as the winner in Nanjing last year, Nakamura as the winner in Wijk aan Zee and Anand after coming second in both tournaments and being the World Champion. Aronian had been invited as the world's third player, while Karjakin got his spot in June at the Kings' Tournament in Romania, after finishing on the same number of points as Carlsen.

However, Karjakin decided to decline his invitation. A few weeks after the King's Tournament he informed the Spaniards that there was an "overload in tournaments and training sessions," which caused a serious problem due to the proximity of the dates.


In today's press release the organizers reveal that the last two spots were given to Ivanchuk and Vallejo. Apparently a few days of negotiating was necessary for Vallejo, before he agreed to be released from his German club, Baden-Baden. He had already made commitments to play for them at the European Club Cup at the same time.

Naturally, the organizers invited the winner of last year, Vladimir Kramnik. However, like Karjakin, the Russian had to decline due to an already very busy schedule: the Russian Championship as from next week, the Botvinnik Memorial (a rapid tournament with Anand, Carlsen and Aronian) in September, the Univé tournament in October, the Tal Memorial in November, the London Chess Classic in December and possibly the European Team Championship in November as well. "If it had been in one place, or even on one continent, I would have considered it," Kramnik told us.

Bilbao 2010

Bilbao 2010, with Kramnik (who won the tournament), Shirov, Carlsen and Anand

The dates of the 4th Grand Slam Masters Final are September 25th-October 11th, 2011. Again, the second half of the tournament will take place in Bilbao, Spain. Following the success of the 2010 edition, when the first phase was played in Shanghai, the public sponsors (the Municipality of Bilbao, the Basque Provincial Council and the Basque Government) and private sponsors (BBK, Euskaltel and Meliá Hotels) decided to go for Sao Paulo this year, due to the economic power of Brazil these days.

Tournament format

And so after two years with only four participants, the fourth edition will return to the most popular of top tournament formats: a double round robin with six players. As always, the Sofia rule and the "football score" will be applied.

The tournament will be decided in Bilbao, where, like the first two editions, the players will play their games in a glass cube. The cube will this time be placed in the Alhóndiga de Bilbao, which was the venue last year as well.

Cruise ship

The opening ceremony will take place on the deck of the MSC Opera cruise ship on September 20th at the Bilbao harbour. The ship will weigh anchor immediately for a Chess Theme Cruise.

MSC Opera Cruise

MSC Cruises and the Bilbao Port Authority are two official partners of this fourth edition of the Grand Slam Masters Final. Together they will offer, through Basque travel agency Romotur, special conditions to those who wish to take part in the Chess Theme Cruise, which will follow the route Bilbao-Gibraltar-Tunisia-Dubrovnik-Venice from September 20th to September 28th.
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