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Grand Slam Circuit Complete

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In Sofia, Bulgaria, where the Mtel Masters is currently underway, the organizers of many of the world's elite tournaments have announced the completion of the Grand Slam circuit. (Original item from last year here.) Mexico City is the surprise fifth entrant, although details have not been provided as to the nature of the event they give for June 21-July 6 of 2008. From the press release: "The Mexico City candidature, supported by its Town Council, has been unanimously accepted during the Grand Slam Chess Association meeting in Sofia, as it fulfils all the required conditions. The Bilbao Final Masters will have the winners of the other four Grand Slam tournaments. The total prize fund of the Final Masters in Bilbao will be 400.000 euros approximately."

The other events are Corus Wijk aan Zee (Jan 11-27), Linares (Feb 15-Mar 9), Mtel Masters (May 6-18) and the final in Bilbao (Sep 15-27). The rules and regulations are still sketchy and probably not all agreed upon yet. One Spanish paper says the five winners will be joined by a sixth specially invited player, but that doesn't make sense because the fifth tournament is the Bilbao Final. Four players. The president of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvánov, has said he'll be delighted to attend the final. Maybe not if Topalov's not in it! Note the Bilbao date is earlier than their previous events, perhaps to evade FIDE's stated plan to have a similar "Master's Cup," as announced by Ilyumzhinov a few months ago. That event sounds like vapor anyway.

I'm all for the Grand Slam concept. The devil is in the details, as usual, and most of the players seem to be withholding judgment until all the rules and regulations are announced. I hope they are working with the players, or at least keeping them informed. Feedback and transparency, rinse and repeat. (See "FIDE" for counterexamples.)

By the way, another Spanish report says this year's Bilbao event will again be a blindfold show. Last year it was Polgar versus Topalov. This year they will be joined by Carlsen, Karjakin, Ponomariov and, possibly, Bu Xiangzhi, in a double-round robin of blindfold. I'm not at all enchanted by blindfold becoming more prevalent at the elite level. It's fun as a lark or a show in simuls with amateurs, and we're used to Amber by now. But trading a dozen good elite games for one or two "good for blindfold" games and a stack of blunders is annoying. I suppose if it puts butts in the seats it's just part of life. Last year it looked like interest was high at the amazing Guggenheim playing site.


I'm actually not at all opposed to "blindfold becoming more prevalent at the elite level." While not a fan of NASCAR, I do see similarities - NASCAR fans enjoy the crashes. Without them, it's basically a bunch of guys driving in a circle, over and and over again. And crashes are not unlike blunders in chess. I don't think it really detracts from the overall enjoyment of the game by us "lay people". It's also similar to boxing, I think - it's the dramatic knockout that brings the excitement, or at least a no-holds-barred brawl that does it as well. Get two defensive world-class boxers in the ring and they get booed.

Thank God Dordmund didn't participate. At least we will have one 100%-Danailov-free tournament.
I'd love to see what happens to Grand Slam if Anand, Kramnik, Aronian, Morozevich, and, say, Svidler do not agree to this "you participate in all or none" rule. Just wondering.

The whole idea of Grand Slam circuit seems to be perfect : instead of having individual tournaments you have a specific important series. Experience taken from other sports says that this will help chess in sponsoring issues and matters of sport popularity since usually spectators want to be able to compare the results of different players in different tournaments.

The "participate in all or none" rule is supposed to apply to the four top-ranked players, right? I guess per the first list of 2008 or something. Well, at least for Kramnik and Morozevich I would be surprised if they even considered playing in Sofia as long as Danailov organizes it.

C'mon, guy, this is all about control. Danailov is trying to get control over elite chess. I do not like the main idea of Grand Slam (obligation to play in all 5 events) for a simple reason: it creates a self-sufficient league on it's own. It means to get elite players for 5 tournaments a year. This means, these players will not play anywhere else. This means sponsors will pay even less attention to other events. This means rated below players who can crash them will get even less opportunities to play with elite. Do I hear somebody said "Ivanchuk", player who managed to save his rating 2700++ [playing mostly vs. 2600-2650 and in opens for years?
Is this good for chess?
I hope Kramnik and other Russian and East European top GMs choose not to participate. These are 9 out of top 12. Anand will play just for money, chess politics is out of his scope. Topalov is Adams can't refuse if he gets invited. But if Linares will not get all-elite listing for a single year, this would force them to reconsider this horrible rule which makes elite players look like slave-courtesans bathing in champaign.

Agree with Kosulin!What is this? Closed group, same faces, ..etc.In tennis Grand Slam, everybody could participate.So,why not chess Grand Slam with World Open,Aeroflot...maybe all tournaments with minimun prize fund of $100.000(or ?$)...

Grand Slam in this form is merely a form of inbreeding. How does this promote chess amongs the masses when small group is put in an ivory tower and made untouchable?

Many a people bring up tennis when speaking about World Championship. I think tennis should be mentioned here with the Grand Slam: in tennis they start with 64(or is it 128) players, so many get a a shot at the title. The same should be in 'Chess Grand Slam'. More than just the elite should get a chance to participate. As this is expensive to make happen, the whole concept seems more than flawed.

Unfortunately the chess world has already long ago turned into a slave for ELO and all anyone is interested in is how to make a 'Category 25' event happen. It is sad the rating has become the driving force instead of the interesting games and chess personalities.

The idea of having a "final" tournament of the year with the Corus, Linares etc. winners is good. But let's just keep it at that, no need to force players into playing all tournaments. That's just silly.

I seriously doubt that anyone can pull it off anyway. If Kramnik doesn't want to play MTEL he won't do it, no matter what stupid rules Danailov has cooked up. Kramnik, Anand and whoever might win Corus or Linares, knows that they'll have to be included in the Bilbao final no matter what, or else the Bilbao final will be pointless.

Interesting interview. Danailov says the winner of the Masters will have as much prestige as the World Champion. That's a little too optimistic, but hey, the guy has to sell his product.

The old GMA-cup (or what it was called) was not soo bad. It could be compared more to tennis than the current proposal, as everybody had a chance to play.

Players in the GMA-cup came from qualifying tournaments and from the rating list. In total 20-25 players every year were in the top group. When there was a tournament, around 16 players from this group would play (all of the top group got the same number of invitations in total, everyone missed 1-2 tournaments). There was room for the organizers to hand out a wild card, for instance to a local hero.

For now this is still "grand slam circus" stage. The interesting thing though is all of a sudden you have two more high-level classical chess tournaments in the works (Mexico City and Bilbao). Neither one said anything about Sofia rules. Something to remember when you talk about chess sponsorship and problems with that.

Hm... I think Danailov said something about the Sofia rules in the interview. Wijk aan Zee (Corus) was thinking about it, he was optimistic. I fear the poor man will be very disappointed. I forgot what he said about Mexico City and Bilbao, but I think it was that those rules would be applied there.

I agree with Oscar.

Very nice interview from chessdom.com. They have also some other good movies in their video section, i hope they go on in the same direction. It is good for chess to see more sites emerging. Look how many sites there are about soccer, and compare it to chess.

It's amazing how the same bunch of "deep thinkers" seem to be zeroing
on Danailov's role again and again. What do you guys want now?
Cheating? Ok, that's passé. What now? Danailov is not alone on this
and if he was that makes him truly omnipotent, which I doubt anyone

The bottom line for the Grand Slam is that considering the mess they
have created with the World Title this was not unexpected. I welcome
it. In fact it will create a far less politicized process to see some
top chess being played. And whoever wins all that has a claim on
something. No more years of dodging competition until the convenient
time. This is far more predictable than what we had up to now.

Enjoy it!


"Unfortunately the chess world has already long ago turned into a slave for ELO and all anyone is interested in is how to make a 'Category 25' event happen. It is sad the rating has become the driving force instead of the interesting games and chess personalities."

A category XXV event would entail an average rating of 2851! Unless you managed to clone Garry Kasparov several times over, there seems no imminant prospect of seeing that happen. On the other hand, if one were to take Rybka, Hydra, and a couple of their silicon pals, we might see an event of that level.

I have to agree that while the winner of the Grand Prix final will have achieved an impressive feat, I would not consider him (or Judit) to have the prestige of a World Champion. The structure of the Grand Prix does not seem that exciting. It is likely that these events will take place, and the Grand Prix will take place for another year or two, and then be forgotten.

There is not much a PR Coup to be had from have a tournament of champions (of elite players), then to have a tournament comprised of players, according to high ranking.

We can be pretty confident that the champion will be from among the Top 10 ranked players, and that somebody like Anand is just a bit more likely to prevail, since he is (now) The Top ranked player.

The Tennis and Golf "Grand Slam" events stand on their own. In Golf, each of the Grand Slam courses is unique; in tennis, each of the Grans Slam events is associated with their own court surface.

Chess tournaments can never really differentiate themselves from each other on that basis.

By the way, in Golf there is a "Tournament of Champions", but it is not considered to be a "Major", and lucrative as the purse is, nobody much cares.

Following the tennis example where each Grand Slam event is unique (i.e. Court Surface). Corus "Blindfold", Mtel "Rapid", Mexico "Blitz", and Linares "Classical". The winners will then play Bilbao in a quadruple round robin playing each other once in each discipline with White/Black pieces decided by a coin toss imediately prior to the game.

Disclaimer: This comment contians sarcasim, any interpretation of this comment in a serious manner indicates idoicy on the readers part.

Following the tennis example where each Grand Slam event is unique (i.e. Court Surface). Corus "Blindfold", Mtel "Rapid", Mexico "Blitz", and Linares "Classical". The winners will then play Bilbao in a quadruple round robin playing each other once in each discipline with White/Black pieces decided by a coin toss imediately prior to the game.

Disclaimer: This comment contians sarcasim, any interpretation of this comment in a serious manner indicates idoicy on the readers part.

"Sofia rules" in Grand Slam events, good.

Five-event "Grand Slam"--what? Chess is not golf, and the prestige of this event doesn't approach the purse:


Too much of the year is consumed--four is the right number.

Commitment to play in all four events? Fine if the players agree to it. Not so fine if it's by Danailov's fiat.... Carlsen--sponsor's darling--is the key--and maybe Karjakin is another key :-) If (say) Kramnik, Morozevich, Svidler, Carlsen participate elsewhere, the idea would be dead; Leko, Kasimjanov, would also be natural nonparticipants.

Instead of overpoliticization at the outset: why not instead have a structure that *encourages* the top four to play without *mandating* participation? Maybe link points in Year One to invitations in Year Two, etc....

And will the Grand Slam book events against Dortmund? This would be stupid.

So whoever Danailov doesn't want to invite to Sofia, doesn't get to play?

Too funny...

in tennis Grand Slam events, they start with 128 players, 100 seeded and rest is qualifiers and wild cards (a very few)
#150-200 ALWAYS has a chance... go into qualifier and everything depends on YOU...

The major point is that in tennis a Grand Slam tournament does not depend on anyone's participation! You don't have to be someone's "friend" to get in!

In tennis the SYSTEM is built, everything is regulated and organized. This is what chess is TOTALLY missing.

In chess, nobody knows what is going to happen next year! No one seems to care, so there is nothing done towards building any kind of stability.

So called "Grand Slam" is totally ridiculous. The same top guys playing each other again, again and again. Seriously, everyone is tired of seeing the same faces... Wejk, Monaco, Linares ...

I can't even imagine a top tennis player saying "oh this guy is not on my level, I am NOT going to play him, he is ranked 100 positions lower".

In tennis the top players ARE ALWAYS CHALLENGED, they have to play , for example #200 has a chance to perform well, get trough qualifying stages and they play top players on the world , there is ALWAYS a chance for a lower ranked player.

In chess, what are the chances of even #100 be playing #1? 0.000001%

nextcoolman is right

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 13, 2007 2:01 PM.

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