Chess News

Bilbao – first Europe vs Rest of the World team match

Tomorrow, at 12:00, in the Campos Elíseos Theatre, the tournament venue, the Bilbao Chess Masters Final will organise the first Europe vs Rest of the World team match, a pioneering initiative within the sport.

The European team will consist of the world champion, the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, the Russian Sergey Karjakin and the Dutch player Anish Giri, whilst the Rest of the World will be represented by the North Americans Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So and the Chinese player Yi Wei.

As a representative of Bilbao City Council, the event will be attended by the councillor responsible for the Department of Youth and Sports, Oihane Agirregoitia.

This first intercontinental team match will be played on a giant 64 m2 board and the two chess armies will be formed by human pieces, boys and girls from several schools in Bilbao and Santurtzi.

This spectacular parallel activity is a side event of the IX Bilbao Chess Masters Final, which runs between 13 and 23 July in Biscay’s capital.


Results of the Bilbao Masters Final

MAGNUS CARLSEN (Norway) – WESLEY SO (USA) (2 hours and 34 minutes) 3-0

HIKARU NAKAMURA (USA) ANISH GIRI (Netherlands) (2 hours and 51 minutes/47 moves) 1-1

YI WEI (CHINA) – SERGEY KARJAKIN (Russia) (1 hour and 55 minutes/23 moves) 1-1

Day 4 IX Bilbao Masters Final Classification:

1.- Magnus Carlsen (Norway) 9

2.- Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 6

3.- Anish Giri (Netherlands) 4

4.- Wesley So (USA) 3

..- Sergey Karjakin (Russia) 3

..- Yi Wei (China) 3


The IX Bilbao Grand Slam Masters Final is unquestionably being dominated by one player. Magnus Carlsen has ranked up his third consecutive victory in the tournament against last year’s champion, Wesley So, taking a step closer to his third ‘txapela’ in this prestigious chess event. The defeat he suffered at the hands of Hikaru Nakamura on the opening day has awakened his rage. The Norwegian has mercilessly dispatched Yi Wei, Sergey Karjakin and So to occupy the top position. Bilbao is enjoying Carlsen at his best, who, in view of his performance in the Campos Theatre, emerges as a clear favourite for the defence of his world title, which will see him face Karjakin in November. The fact that the Nakamura-Giri and Wei-Kariakin matches ended in draws places the Nordic player even further in front.

The world number 1, playing white, employed a classic Spanish opening, to which his opponent, originally from the Philippines, responded with an Anti-Berlin variation. The apparent calm that reigned over the board was dramatically dispelled with an uncharacteristic error by Soin move 17. The black king became exposed to the attacking battery of a Carlsen who, proving ruthless, did not pardon his opponent, obliging him to retire from the table in only nine further moves.

In the adjacent table, Nakamura and Giri tied following perpetual check in a match wherein the North American player had a clear advantage and appeared to be winning. The Queen’s Gambit and subsequent Semi-Slav variation afforded the North American a slender positional advantage that gradually grew over the course of the next few moves, to the point where it seemed decisive. However, a poor decision on the part of Nakamura proved a godsend for Giri. The Dutch player was able to bring the black queen into play and reach a position of perpetual check that led to the sharing of points between the two players, both of whom have a history in the Sestao Chess Club.

To date, the shortest match of the tournament, lasting less than two hours, took place on the table where Sergey Karjakin faced the young Chinese player Yi Wei, the two players at the bottom of the leader board at the beginning of the day. It proved to be a “calm” duel, as the Russian later stated. The challenger for the world crown defended well against the Catalan opening presented by the Chinese player, and even threatened white’s apparent weaknesses. The exchange of pieces left each of the players in very solid positions that neither of them proved able to undermine. The draw, the result of three repeated moves, afforded each their third point within the tournament.

The pairings for day five, the last of the first round, are as follows: Giri-Carlsen, Karjakin-Nakamura and So-Wei.

Running in parallel to the Masters Final, the Campos Theatre also provides the venue for the “Villa de Bilbao” Open, in which 120 players are competing. This tournament offers what is amongst the best prize money (€15,000 in prizes) in tournaments of this level held in Spain this year. Together, the two events make up Bilbao Chess 2016, which builds upon the success of the 2014 and 2015 editions.

As was the case in previous editions, the two competitions will be broadcast live on the Internet, via the official website of the event,, and on the main international chess portals, which together accounted for an audience of more than ten million spectators from all over the world in last year’s edition. The comments, provided by the chess players and commentators Leontxo García and Santiago González de la Torre can also be followed by those attending the event, in the area known as the Ágora, where, in addition to the competitors in the two tournaments, important figures from the world of chess and the Basque social and cultural scene will make appearances each day.

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