Ready for the off in Bilbao!

The long-awaited Masters final will run from the 9th to the 15th of October 2010 in Bilbao (northern Spain) with four of the World's strongest players competing. Who do you think will win and become Masters Champion 2010 out of Kramnik, Carlsen, Shirov and Anand? Follow the games live starting from this afternoon!

Bilbao is the largest city in the Spanish Basque region, and although it is often depicted as a big industrial port, in recent years it has diversified. It's most famous building is the Guggenheim Museum seen in the background of some of today's photos.

The Grand Slam Masters takes place in the prestigious Atrio de Alhóndiga Bilbao for the third year running.

This year's Masters began with an additional prelimary section in Shanghai (from the 3rd to the 8th of September). Two players were invited direct to the final: Magnus Carlsen (winner of Wijk aan Zee, Nanjing and Bazna not forgetting the fact that he is World No.1) and Viswanathan Anand (World Champion and No.3 in the world).

The other two had to go through the Semi-Final. Shirov qualified relatively easily whereas it went down to the wire between Aronian and Kramnik, the Russian only making the difference in the Armaggedon Blitz decider.

StandingPlayerRatingAgeCountry1W1B2W2B3W3B4W4BScore (Bilbao)Score (Standard)PerformanceRating change (approx)
1Alexei Shirov274938ESPXX==1=11124.5/62955+16
2Levon Aronian278328ARM==XX0==183/62751-2.5
3Vladimir Kramnik278035RUS=0=1XX==63/62752-2.5
4Wang Hao272421CHN000===XX21.5/62578-11

The result wasn't as clear-cut as the final table would suggest as, for example, Shirov was in difficulties in both games against Wang Hao.

NameRatingCountryBlitz 1Blitz 2ArmaggedonTotal
Levon Aronian2783ARM0101
Vladimir Kramnik2780RUS1012

The double-round-robin has the particularity (see the table above) that a win is awarded three points and a draw only one. Another being that 'draws by mutual agreement' require the acceptance of the arbiter.

I consider these modifications slightly artifical but if they help to generate spectacular chess, why not?

Pairings for the first round on Saturday the 9th are as follows:

Alexei Shirov2749ESP - Viswanathan Anand 2800IND
Vladimir Kramnik2780RUS - Magnus Carlsen 2826NOR

Pairings for the second round on Sunday 10/10/10(!):

Magnus Carlsen2826NOR - Viswanathan Anand2800IND
Vladimir Kramnik2780RUS - Alexei Shirov2749ESP

So Kramnik starts with a double White and Anand with a double Black.

The time limit will be:

90' for 40 moves and then 60' plus an increment of 10" for the remainder of the game.

Tie-breaks (in the case that two players finish on the same number of points):

A two-game Blitz match (4' plus 3" increment) with the possibility of an 'armageddon' game (5' for White, 4' for Black who gets draw odds) if necessary.

Magnus Carlsen picks the number 4 for the tournament! © official site.

For more information go to the

Official site

There will be a rest day on Tuesday the 12th, but otherwise you will be able to watch the games live each day from the following times:

4.30 pm (Bilbao, Paris)

3.30 pm (London)

6.30 pm (Moscow)

11.30 am (New York)

8.30 am (Los Angeles)

Official site live games

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