The Bilbao Grand Slam Masters Final got underway this afternoon in the capital’s Campos Theatre and produced a major upset. The world champion and world number 1, Magnus Carlsen, was defeated by Hikaru Nakamura, ranked 6 according to the FIDE, in a historic match. This is the first victory achieved by the North American against the Norwegian genius following 18 matches that they have disputed against each other. The other two matches in this inaugural round saw Sergey Karjakin face Wesley So and Anish Giri battle the young Chinese talent Yi Wei, and ended in draws.
The seismic impact of events on the first table at the Campos venue created turmoil during the tournament’s first day. Before the first move was made, nobody would have backed Nakamura to defeat his great nemesis, who also happens to be the best player in the world. Perhaps being seen as the favourite has adversely affected the Nordic player, who paid dearly for his error.
Carlsen’s opening with white involved the Sicilian Defence, moving into the Dragon Variation that afforded him a comfortable advantageous position that ended up betraying him in the middle game when he attempted to achieve a quick victory. Nakamura turned the tide of the match with move 21 and, now at an advantage, showed mastery to finish off his opponent and force the distressed Carlsen to concede. The ‘Bilbao Rules’, introduced into the Masters Final in 2008, whereby three points are awarded for a victory, position the player born in Osaka as a strong competition leader.
“It is simply a victory, what really matters is winning the tournament”, Nakamura stated in the Ágora, having received a warm round of applause from the general public who were following the match live from the viewing lounge.
At the second table, Karjakin and So offered an extremely close match, which attests to the minimal ELO difference between the two players (a three-point lead for the winner of the Candidates Tournament) before arriving in Bilbao. Karjakin, playing white, commenced with an anticipated Spanish Opening, to which So responded with the Berlin Variation. The approach employed by the Grandmaster from Simferopol, involving slow paced manoeuvres, concluded with an end game involving queens and a tie following continuous mates.
The longest match of the day saw Anish Giri face the extremely young Chinese talent Yi Wei. Almost five hours of play concluded with a tied match wherein the Dutch player was frustrated by his opponent’s closing Numantian defence. The Italian opening employed by Giri afforded him a slight advantage that was neutralised by Wei with the sacrifice of his black bishops, a risky manoeuvre that ended up compromising his king. Nevertheless, the slim advantage that Giri evidenced throughout proved insufficient against a rival that defended with precision until, with few pieces left on the table, a draw was declared.
Get all games that Carlsen and Karjakin play in 2016 with GM commentary – in pdf and pgn in magazine style!
The pairings for day two are as follows: Wei-Carlsen, So-Nakamura and Kariakin-Giri.
Bilbao Chess 2016 was inaugurated in the early afternoon by the councillor responsible for the Department of Youth and Sports within Bilbao City Council, Oihane Agirregoitia. The councillor had the honour of making the first opening moves to inaugurate the Final and the Villa de Bilbao International Open, in which 120 players are competing, the two tournaments that form this year’s edition of Bilbao Chess.
Amongst the list of tournament winners, the top ranking player and reigning world champion, Carlsen, boasts two txapelas, obtained in 2011 and 2012, the same number as those won (in 2009 and 2013) by the twice Olympic champion, the Armenian Lévon Aronian. Last year’s winner, the American Wesley So numbers amongst those with one txapela, along with the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov (in 2008) the Russian Vladimir Kramnik (in 2010) and the Indian Viswanathan Anand (in 2014), and the last two mentioned are also both former world champions.
As was the case in previous editions, the two competitions will be broadcast live on the Internet, via the official website of the event, www.bilbaochess2016.com, 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.
Day 1 IX Bilbao Masters Final Classification:
1.- Hikaru Nakamura (USA) 3
2.- Anish Giri (Netherlands) 1
..- Sergey Karjakin (Russia) 1
..- Wesley So (USA) 1
..- Yi Wei (China) 1
6.- Magnus Carlsen (Norway) 0