General Jun 15, 2016 | 10:55 AMby Colin McGourty

Carlsen and Karjakin to clash in Bilbao

World Champion Magnus Carlsen will play at least two games against Challenger Sergey Karjakin before their match in New York this November, since both players are in the line-up for the 2016 Bilbao Masters Final. The 10-round tournament running from July 13-23 will also feature defending Champion Wesley So, Top 10 stars Hikaru Nakamura and Anish Giri and the world’s most exciting chess talent, 17-year-old Chinese prodigy Wei Yi.

There were lots of hints and rumours about who would play in the Bilbao Masters this year, but early today photographic evidence confirmed the big story:

The full line-up couldn’t be much better – the World Champion, four more Top 10 players and the one rising star currently being talked about as a future World Champion:

  1. Magnus Carlsen, Norway, age 25, World no. 1, 2855
  2. Hikaru Nakamura, USA, age 28, World no. 6, 2787
  3. Anish Giri, Netherlands, age 21, World no. 8, 2782
  4. Sergey Karjakin, Russia, age 26, World no. 9, 2774
  5. Wesley So, USA, age 22, World no. 10, 2770
  6. Wei Yi, China, age 17, World no. 45, 2694

The real coup, though, is getting not one but two games between Carlsen and Karjakin, who will play a 12-game match for the World Championship title in New York this November. When Sergey Karjakin dropped out of Altibox Norway Chess there was not only disappointment but criticism that he was chickening out of a showdown. We can now see that’s not the case. It should be intriguing to see how hard the players push to get a psychological edge before their match.

Profiles of the players on the official website

The format is a double round-robin and, since the tournament has grown from four players to six players this year, that means 10 rounds will be played in the spectacular Teatro Campos Elíseos venue, with a single rest day on 18th July.

The expansion of the event has been made possible by support from Bilbao City Council and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, and if you can make it to Bilbao you can either watch the games in the venue (for free!), or actually play alongside your heroes in the accompanying Open Tournament. Check out all the information on the official website. Here’s a teaser video:

The tournament starts in a little under one month, and we will of course cover it here on chess24. Before that, though, there’s plenty more chess action coming up! This Friday the next stage of the Grand Chess Tour begins, the Your Next Move event in Leuven, Belgium, and it needs almost no introduction. The format is exactly the same as in Paris, with the same players as well, except that Vishy Anand returns in place of Laurent Fressinet. 

You can watch all the action live here on chess24 from 14:00 CEST on Friday, with Jan Gustafsson and Anna Rudolf commentating from the scene.

As if that wasn’t enough speed chess for one weekend, Grischuk, Svidler, Nepomniachtchi, Andreikin, Le Quang Liem and Gelfand are among those who will be competing for a $30,000 first prize in the 22-round Eurasian Blitz Chess Cup of the President of Kazakhstan that takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

Here’s the short Russian trailer:

We also hope to have all the games here on chess24, while you can keep track of all the upcoming chess action in our 2016 Chess Calendar.

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