The leading competition within the event Bilbao Chess in July 9th, will host the only duel between the reigning world chess champion, the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, and the official challenger to the title, the Russian Serguéi Kariakin, before they meet again in New York next November in a fight for the universal title.

Thanks to this world exclusive encounter, Bilbao and its Grand Slam Masters Final is one of the top events in this year’s international chess calendar, along with the individual World Championship.

Bilbao’s international status as a chess capital will be further boosted by the strongest competitive line-up in recent years. The reigning and twice world champion Carlsen and his Russian challenger (a status which has been fully merited by Kariakin after his recent win at the Candidates Tournament in Moscow, in which he defeated the rest of the world’s elite, including the champion Anand), will be joined by the winner of last year’s event, the American of Philippine origin Wesley So, Anish Giri, the Dutch grand master who was defeated by the latter in the 2015 tie-break and the American of Japanese origin Hikaru Nakamura, all of whom are ranked among the top ten in the world, who will also fight to win the Masters Final prestigious txapela.

And alongside these well-renowned young grand masters, who are all in their twenties, the rising star of world chess: Yi Wei, the 16-year-old Chinese teenager, who is already the Olympic and absolute champion in his country, the sport’s new world power.

Thanks to the renewed support of the Bilbao City Council and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, alongside other public and corporate sponsors, the 9th Chess Masters Final, a tournament which is part of the event Bilbao Chess 2016, returns to its original format of six players. It will take place between 13 and 23 July, and the Campos Elíseos Theatre will once again host the tournament for the second consecutive year, after last year’s success.

Located in the centre of the theatre’s seating area, known as “La Bombonera” of Bilbao, which has been converted and prepared for the event, in an unusual image for international chess tournaments, the Masters Final will be surrounded by approximately 140 competitors, professionals and enthusiasts, who will all fight for victory at one of the most compelling open tournaments taking place this year in the city, the 9th Villa de Bilbao Open.

Nov 10, 2021

Firouzja wins Grand Swiss

18-year-old Alireza Firouzja has won the FIDE Grand Swiss, qualified for his 1st Candidates Tournament and taken home the top prize of $70,000 after drawing his last round game against Grigoriy Oparin. There were draws on the top 13 boards, as Fabiano Caruana claimed the 2nd spot in the Candidates, while Oparin, Yu, Keymer, MVL, Predke and Shirov qualified for the Grand Prix. In the women’s event Elisabeth Paehtz took 2nd place behind Lei Tingjie on a day she also earned the grandmaster title.

Alireza Firouzja is still on course to become the youngest undisputed World Chess Champion in history after qualifying for the 2022 Candidates Tournament. If he wins the Candidates he has the potential to challenge Magnus Carlsen or Ian Nepomniachtchi to a match in 2023 and, at the age of 19 or 20, smash the record of 22 years old set by Garry Kasparov and matched by Magnus — Ruslan Ponomariov won the FIDE title at the age of 18 in 2002, but in a knockout format at a time when Vladimir Kramnik held the title that mattered.

lireza did it in style, taking sole first place in the Grand Swiss and the $70,000 top prize with a 2855 rating performance that saw him gain 11.5 rating points to move up to world no. 5. In fact his 2781.5 rating would be rounded up to Ian Nepomniachtchi’s 2782 and he’d take 4th place if the official rating list was published today. That’s academic, however, since he’ll now play for France in the European Team Championship that starts on Friday in Slovenia, so his rating is set to shift again.

See also:

  • Official website
  • Watch all the Grand Swiss games: Open | Women
  • Nakamura, Vidit withdraw as Grand Swiss goes ahead despite lockdown
  • Grand Swiss Round 1: Caruana and Firouzja strike
  • Grand Swiss Round 2: Firouzja world no. 6 as Caruana misses win
  • Grand Swiss Round 3: Firouzja’s rampage continues
  • Grand Swiss Round 4: Firouzja and Lei Tingjie sole leaders
  • Grand Swiss Round 5: Shirov and Najer catch Firouzja
  • Grand Swiss Round 6: MVL and Sasikiran catch the leaders
  • Grand Swiss Round 7: Firouzja powers towards Candidates
  • Grand Swiss Round 8: Firouzja climbs to world no. 4
  • Grand Swiss Round 9: Caruana takes down Firouzja
  • Grand Swiss Round 10: Firouzja a draw away from the Candidates
Jan 07, 2017

Chess and Community conference uses games to mentor youth

In a decade or so, powerful community leaders may look back to an Athens nonprofit remembering where they first gained the confidence, curiosity and passion needed to make a difference. Local nonprofit Chess and Community works closely with Athens youth by pairing games of chess with mentorship, dramatically changing the lives of kids and empowering them for future success.

The organization has come a long way since poet and social worker Lemuel “Life” Laroche started playing chess with kids five years ago, and is now expecting over 500 attendees to celebrate its 5th Annual Conference this January.

“When I started working with the kids, we used to just eat pizza and play chess. Whenever they were frustrated, they would call me and say ‘let’s play chess’ and I would just play chess with them and help them through whatever issues they were struggling with,” Laroche said.

When Laroche was younger, community elders taught him patience and critical thinking skills through games of chess. Through mirroring the games with which he grew up, Laroche hopes to help other kids gain empowering knowledge that will help them avoid cycles of under-education and poverty common to the Athens area.

Besides playing chess, the group goes kayaking, backpacking, holds debates, has a summer book club and has even visited Stone Mountain and Washington D.C. together. This summer, a select group of eight children will have the chance to visit Ethiopia for 20 days, expanding their cultural perspectives to encompass societies very different from their own.

Kids involved in the program are called the Classic City Knights, and experience an atmosphere of encouragement and brotherhood through their participation in Chess and Community.

“At first I wasn’t really into chess, but then I got into the group and it was fun. I made a lot of friends,” said Classic City Knight, Jaishon Richards.

Yolanda Parker, Richard’s mother, noted that he has been more confident and has developed good values and friendships since joining Chess and Community in 2015.

“It gives a good groundwork for him to reflect back on if he is slipping with his grades,” Parker said.

The largest chess tournament of the year will be held at the 5th Annual Chess and Community Conference in coordination with the UGA School of Social Work.

More than 150 kids from all over the country are expected to participate in the tournament, forming a friendly competitive atmosphere for the players to socialize and get to know each other. Notably, the conference hosts an impressive Justice Served chess match where local kids have the opportunity to play against Athens police officers, connecting the two groups on a personal level during the friendly match.

Other than police officers, the kids will play a match against Athens commissioners, giving them the opportunity to ask questions about the community and start networking with powerful individuals at a young age. UGA football players will also attend the conference and compete with the kids— an exciting prospect for Classic City Knights who dream of becoming future bulldogs.

Just like the organization Chess and Community, the annual conference isn’t solely focused on playing games of chess.

Accomplished speakers will present at the conference to inspire young locals of ways they can use their unique abilities to make a difference in the world. The special guests include a young entrepreneur from Athens called Lil Ice-Cream Dude, the mayor of Tallahassee and the Athens City Manager.

In addition, $1,000 college scholarships called Think Before You Move, will be presented to four local high schoolers who wrote essays best answering the question of which changes they’d like to see implemented in the Athens community within the next 20 years.

Laroche feels it’s valuable to include high schoolers in conversations about a 20-year vision for Athens because when they grow up, they will be the ones living with the choices that are made. Ideally, if current Classic City Knights end up in Athens’ leadership roles, they’ll have the tremendous ability to implement changes they feel most passionate about.

“Everything at the conference is designed to get the kids thinking ‘wow, maybe I can have some impact in my community now and 20 years from now,’” Laroche said.
“Everything at the conference is designed to get the kids thinking ‘wow, maybe I can have some impact in my community now and 20 years from now.’”
– Lemuel “Life” Laroche

While the kids are playing chess, visitors at the conference are encouraged to enjoy an art display hosted by Assistant Director of Chess and Community, Broderick Flanigan. The art is submitted by talented young creatives from local middle and high schools, and entered in a competition surrounding the theme of envisioning an ideal Athens in the future.

Flanigan feels that similar to the game of chess, the practice of creating artwork can also teach values of patience, planning and creative problem solving.

“The design of creating artwork uses critical thinking of what steps are needed to complete the piece, but a lot of people don’t think about art like that,” Flanigan said.

By showcasing talent, ideas and inspiration, Chess and Community hopes that the annual conferences will not only be a way to bring revenue into Athens, but also a way to bring teams from all over the world into the city to compete, bringing an international awareness to the community.

The 5th Annual Chess and Community Conference will be held Jan. 7 in Tate Center Grand Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free of charge, open to the public and lunch will be served halfway through the conference. The organization hopes participation in the Classic City Knights and community involvement will continue to grow in the coming years.

Laroche feels there is no shortage of places for passionate locals to volunteer. Thus, making a positive difference in the lives of local kids by connecting them to each other as well as shining a light on opportunities in the world surrounding them.

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May 30, 2016

The youngest International Master in history!

Houston, we have an IM – and he is 10 years and ten months of age! Better learn to pronounce his name: Praggnanandhaa, Pragg-na-nan-dhaa. A couple of hours ago he won his ninth round game at the KiiT International Chess Festival in Bhubaneswar, India, and made his third IM norm (after norms in Cannes and Moscow). We congratulate Praggu on this historical achievement.

Uzbek GM Marat Dzhumaev was hanging on to dear life in the chill of Delhi as a ten-year-old youngster kept pressing, giving him no respite. Time pressure did not help the grandmaster either, but he had a lucky escape as he played accurately to hold the draw. The boy seemed to be putting in more efforts to pick the pieces from the last rank than in calculating one of the many tough variations. He was disappointed that he could get no more than a draw.

The title of grandmaster has a certain charm to it that entices people to revere the ones who achieve it. Even more so, when the one who annexes the title is a youngster. Many of the top players today have made it to the youngest grandmasters list in the past. In fact, the World Champion today was the third youngest grandmaster in chess history, and his challenger to the title, Karjakin that is, is the youngest ever. Although it in no way assures what is in store for the future, one thing is certain — the group of juniors who rule the roost today is likely to be ruling the top in the coming decade.

Youngest grandmasters in history

A. Rameshbabu’s children Vaishali and Praggnanandhaa were giving him sleepless nights. The kids were so good at chess that they kept winning titles at state, national and international levels. Vaishali became the Indian National Women’s ‘B’ champion in 2015, besides winning a handful of medals in the various youth events. Praggnanandhaa, besides his share of youth medals, is in the process of rewriting history books. People who knew the siblings understood that both the kids would go far.

In early April, Praggnanandhaa made his way to the Asian Youth Championship 2016, and almost effortlessly won Gold in the Under-12 section, although the field was devoid of any real challenge. On May 23, 2016 he started as the twentieth seed in the KIIT International Open in Bhubaneswar, India with a rating of 2368. And although the tournament is not over yet, and the organisers have not bothered to provide us the PGN, Praggu was well on course to register, at least, his final IM-norm.

Praggnanandhaa has been working with GM R.B. Ramesh for three years now, and Ramesh firmly believes that this is him just doing his thing. Results take care of themselves.

Well, the tournament began, and he managed to defeat GM Karen Grigoryan in the fourth round. Praggnanandhaa has managed to remain solid in the remaining games, barring a loss in the eighth round. He has already touched the 2400 mark in this tournament. He was just a regulation finish away from doing the needful, and he did so, with a win in the ninth round over Al Muthiah (2308), just an hour ago (May 29, 2016). At ten years and ten months of age, Praggnanandhaa has created history by becoming the world’s youngest International Master.

But this is hardly the end, this is just the beginning. Praggnanandhaa is up there in the bunch of prodigies creating humongous waves of late, and he has only just begun. Exciting times ahead!

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