Magnus Carlsen wins Bilbao!


GM Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen had another inspired win at Bilbao.
Photo by Pascal Simon.
In a very exciting ending, Magnus Carlsen won the Bilbao Grand Slam by catching Vassily Ivanchuk and then beating him in a tiebreak blitz match. The key win for Carlsen may have been round #9 when he scored a tying win against then-leader Ivanchuk. Ivanchuk was leading the tournament by as many as six points but could not hold the lead. Two losses in the last four rounds combined with Carlsen’s two wins in the last four rounds lead to a tie score and a blitz playoff which was won by Carlsen.

World Champion Viswanathan Anand had a mediocre performance and only avoided last place with a win over Francisco Vallejo-Pons. He ended on an even score along with Hikaru Nakamura and Levon Aronian. Nakamura had a bit of misfortune when he overstepped the time limit in a possible winning position against Vallejo-Pons. There was no one more shocked than Nakamura when he returned from getting a drink only to find that his time had expired. He filed an appeal, but the decision was upheld.

Aronian never could get on track. Like Anand, Armenia’s top gun had the same score in both halves with +1-1=3 in Sao Paulo and +1-1=3 in Bilbao. Vallejo-Pons brought up the rear position, but had three important wins beating Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand and the aforementioned game against Nakamura. At -3, it certainly was not an ideal performance, but given the strength of the field, three wins is quite remarkable.

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