• At the final will be present current world champion, Viswanathan Anand, Magnus Carlsen, number one in the world rankings, Olympic champion, Levon Aronián, Sergey Karjakin and Fabiano Caruana, five of the top eight players in the world. Joining them will be Spain’s grandmaster Paco Vallejo.
  • The Brazilian city of Sao Paulo will host the first round of the tournament from September 24 to 29. The second and deciding round will be played in Bilbao from October 8 to 13.
  • The launch in the Biscayan capital took place at the world’s oldest Chess hall open to the public.
20.09.12 Bilbao. This morning the 5th Grand Slam Masters Final was officially launched before the media. The prestigious sports journalist Leontxo Garcíaacted as Master of Ceremonies at an event at which were also present Juan Carlos Fernández, Technical Director of the Final, Juan Félix Madariaga, General Director of Bilbao Ekintza and Gabino Martínez de Arenaza, Director of Tourism of the Bizkaia Regional Council. The two institutions are the main sponsors of this event.

The launch took place at the headquarters of the Bilbaina Society, specifically in its Chess hall, which, after the disappearance of London’s Simpsons Club, is probably the oldest functioning Chess hall in the world.

The Masters Final will also be launched this afternoon (Spain time) in Sao Paulo. The ceremony will take place at the Prefectura (City Hall) of the city and Gilberto Kassab, prefeito (Mayorof teh city, and Andoni Madariaga, director of the Masters Final will be in attendance.

Five of the world’s best chess players will play in this year’s edition, the fifth Chess Grand Slam Masters Final which for the second consecutive year will be held in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo and in Bilbao, the championship’s fixed venue.

In the tournament, one of the world’s most prestigious, will participate current world Chess champion, India’s Viswanathan Anand, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, number one in the world rankings, Armenian Levon Aronián, Olympic Champion, Ukrainian-born Russian Sergey Karjakin and US-born Italian Fabiano Caruana, five of the current best chess players in the world. Joining them, just as in 2011, will be Spain’s Paco Vallejo.


Viswanathan Anand.- Just after being proclaimed world champion for the fifth time in Moscow, Anand said in May that his advanced age for this title, 42 years, still is not a reason to think about retirement. Certainly he has reaffirmed himself as one of the most brilliant champions of all time, and not just because of the number of titles he has one but because he has won in all three possible formats: knockouts, tournament and long duels. But he still lacks something for his sporting longevity to reach the highest level of astonishment—to triumph in very tough tournaments at age 42, such as this one in Sao Paulo and Bilbao.

Magnus Carlsen.- The ‘Mozart’ of Chess (world number one since age 19) is, without a doubt, one of the greatest powerhouses in history. His great challenge at 21 is being world champion, but he has another perhaps more difficult one in the medium term—overcoming Kasparov’s two-decade dominance of the rankings. If inflation were added to Kasparov’s historic record (2,849 points in July 2000), that mark would be closer to 2900 points by today’s standards, very far from Carlsen’s 2,837. In any event, the Masters Final is one of the tournaments that most motivates and raises prestige, and the Norwegian won it in 2011.

Levon Aronián.- His results speak for themselves, and his game as well. About to turn 30, Aronian, current number two, is a strong candidate to dethrone Anand, and is also the most capable of threatening Carlsen’s dominance in the rankings, especially since it has been discovered that he is addicted to his profession and has intensified his training. He has a universal style and great psychological balance and is a national icon in Armenia, already winning the Masters Final in 2011. Also, he wouldn’t mind buying a house in Bilbao one day because he loves the city.

Sergey Karjakin.- It will soon be known if Karjakin is the great eternal promises, among the ten best players but without threatening those at the very top, ori f he is capable of finally exploading at age 22. At 12 years and 7 months he was the youngest grandmaster in history, and ever since has fuelled debate on the differences between himself and Carlsen. For now the theory prevails that the Russian Works harder than the Norwegian but his natural abilities are fewer.  But there is one doubt—Karjakin, Ukrainian-born, changed his nationality, residence, marital status and trainer three years ago, all at the same time; taking on all of that requires time. Perhaps his great momento has arrived.

Fabiano Caruana.- The best under-20 player in the world has earned a very well-deserved special invitation to the Masters Final, after a regular and brilliant ascent to the elite since age 14. US-born with a long period in Spain during as a teenager, during a five-year period he cast doubt on whether it would be a very brilliant tactic without sufficient strategic basis. This image is already a thing of the past. Caruana shows a great positional understanding; he is a more well-rounded player than that spectacular young man and has placed himself among the ten best in the world. In Sao Paulo and Bilbao he will face his great baptism by fire.

Paco Vallejo.- Paco Vallejo: It has been repeated ad nauseum that Vallejo’s results do not live up to his enormous talent. And it is not very likely that that statement is false– ex world champions Kaspárov, Anand y Topálov, among others, agree and it is supported by the five medals in international and European tournaments that the Minorcan won between age nine and when he became under-18 champion. But even without training as hard as some of the great stars, Vallejo is capable of beating any of them, delighting fans with games of high risk and enormous beauty. He confirmed this at the 2011 Masters Final and that is why he is here again.


Just like in recent years, in this 5th edition will be played using a double-round leagueamong the six master participants, with the first half being played in Sao Paulo (from September 24 to 29) and the second round in the huge glass booth installed at the Alhóndiga Bilbao, the venue of the championship in the Biscayan capital from October 8 to 13.

This 5th Masters Final will continue to strive for new rules aimed at guaranteeing a battle and a spectacle at each match. Therefore, the so-called “Sofia rules” will once again be applied. These state that only the arbiter has the power to decide if a match is drawn, avoiding pacts between players. Additionally, a similar points system to the one used in football will continue to be used, with three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss. This system was first used in an elite tournament at the 2008 Bilbao Masters Final and is now known as the “Bilbao rules”.

The organizers have confirmed that the Bilbao Masters Final will contain all the elements that contributed to the excellent results obtained in previous years, and the great success achieved both locally and internationally. Chess fans and curious onlookers will be able to enjoy a programme of parallel activities, the analysis and commentary area for all the audiences, large screens and live streaming via the Internet. And of course, elite chess will once more return to the streets, within the reach of the general public, since all visitors will be able to watch the game and these great champions live.
Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
Tags: , , , , , , , ,