Anand confirms entry for innovative Grand Slam of Chess Masters

By V Krishnaswamy, IANS,

New Delhi : Viswanathan Anand has confirmed his entry for the inaugural Grand Slam of Chess final Masters in September this year, but Vladimir Kramnik, his opponent for the world title a month later in October has decided to stay away.

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Anand is one of the six players who have confirmed their participation for the event to be held September 2-13, in Bilbao, Spain. The event is to be played on a double round-robin format.

Kramnik declined to play, perhaps due to his World Championship match with Anand in October. Anand evidently feels that it will be a useful part of his preparation.

The much-awaited tournament will also see some major innovations. One of them is to award three points for a win and only a point for a draw. This will obviously encourage players to go for a win rather than settle for quick draws. In the past, M-Tel Masters has had a rule prohibiting players from agreeing to draws.

The tournament will also, in a first, be played outside and in a huge sound-proofed and air-conditioned glass case cube, which is currently under construction and will be completed before the tournament gets underway.

This glass cube will be placed in the Plaza Nueva in Bilbao under a marquee which will also accommodate The Agora for analysis and comments.

Anand in the meantime is also scheduled to play the Chess Classic of Mainz in Germany in July and will then play the Grand Slam, which will be followed by the World title match against Kramnik. Anand is, however, not a certainty for the Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany, where India will be one of the seeded teams, but will be seeded higher if the world champion plays.

Anand will take the decision on the Olympiad after the world championships, though it might be very strenuous and draining on the Indian ace, who is slated to play a lot of high-profile events from now to November.

The six players in the Chess Grand Slam will be Lev Aronian (winner of Wijk Aan Zee), Anand (winner of Morelia-Linares), Vasilly Ivanchuk (winner of M-Tel Masters), Veselin Topalov, Magnus Carlsen and Teimour Radjabov.

Originally, the organisers had planned for an additional qualifying tournament in Mexico, but it fell through. But there are plans in place to introduce a qualifying event in Seattle in 2009 and possibly another event in China by 2010.

The time control will be 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and another 60 minutes to finish the game. The total prize money amounts to €400,000 with €150,000 for 1st, €70,000 for 2nd, €60,000 for 3rd, €50,000 for 4th, €40,000 for 5th and €30,000 for 6th.

The list of players with ratings is: Anand (2798), Ivanchuk (2781), Topalov (2777), Carlsen (2775), Radjabov (2744) and Aronian (2737).