Magistral Ciudad de Leon Chess: Anand wins Magistral de Leon for the 10th time, imposing his class on tough Jaime Santos in the final (3-1) | Chess News

Chess brought four exceptional news this Sunday, two of them in Leon, where five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand won the Magistral tournament for the 10th time, and a woman, the Spaniard Marta Garcia, took first prize at the IX International Open. A few hours earlier, the Argentine Faustino Oro (resident of Badalona) became the youngest International Master in history. And Timofey Demchenko, a Russian by birth, won the Spanish Under-8 Championship, winning all nine games. The common factor in these four feats is the amazement that has been so common in chess for over 1,500 years.

Anand, ranked 11th in the world at 54, a historic marker of elite sporting longevity, gave clear signs over the weekend that he is taking the challenge of winning the Copa Ciudad de Leon for a 10th time very seriously. On Saturday, for example – after beating former world champion Veselin Topalov, a Bulgarian, in the first semi-final on Friday – he had breakfast by 08:00 – it is very rare for an elite chess player to do so before 10:00:00 – in order to then run around the streets of Leon. He also asked the organisers that his debate speech at the university on the 37th anniversary of the tournament should not last more than half an hour, as he needs time to prepare for Sunday’s final, although he will not know the identity of his opponent until then.

The winner of the other semi-final, Jaime Santos, is a friend of Marta Garcia. At dusk, they drank together on the terrace of the Plaza de Santo Domingo to celebrate their good results (Marta was one of the first in the open tournament, with the last day remaining). And then Santos switched off for a few hours to enjoy a steak with a few friends. His encyclopedic wisdom in openings and defense allowed him this luxury, rather than locking himself in his room and studying the games of the five-time world champion. After the final, Anand admitted: “Jaime impressed me a lot with the way he won the semi-final.”

The initial attack was a demonstration of the limitless resources of one of the best chess players of all time. Santos played well and maintained control throughout, constantly putting pressure on Anand’s weakest pawn on d6. But he placed the knight in the rear, on e8, which kept his structure in a worse position until a draw was signed after 50 moves.

The first sets of the next game highlighted the strategy the Indian had devised for the match: hold on in the first round, attack in the second to win, and then withstand the Leonese attacks in the last two. In fact, playing with the speed that earned him the nickname Madras Rapid 35 years ago, Anand showed that he came armed to the teeth against the French defence, one of Santos’ favourites. He sacrificed a pawn and went on the attack.

Vicente Canuria, Sports Councilor of the León City Council, begins the final.Luke

But the local hero put on his usual expression of extreme skepticism and did not flinch. Of course, the situation was very complex and difficult to assess. The computers rated it as balanced, which is like saying nothing when the board is so messy. However, finding an effective plan for Anand’s White that would allow him to retain compensation for the sacrificed pawn was also not easy. So the five-time champion changed his piece on the move, activated the most pragmatic one and offered a draw by repeating moves, to which Santos happily agreed. The swords were still high after two games.

Fans are disappointed because of this interrupted coitus Morally, this lasted very little. During the break, Santos, reflecting on the situation in the dressing room, must have thought that it would be better to take a risk in the third round, where he would have the initiative for White. And he did, trading two minor pieces for a rook and two pawns whose long-term potential was far from clear.

The remaining minutes passed in great restrained tension, with mutual struggle in the center of the board, and no one dared to further determine the type of position, with or without queens. Until his thirtieth game, Santos lacked the precision required when facing a genius forged in a thousand battles. The mistake, with only half a minute left on the clock compared to his opponent’s five, left a clear advantage for the five-time champion, who has been relentless since then.

You would expect irregularity from beardless prodigies like the aforementioned Oro or Demchenko. But if it is Anand, the opposite can be taken for granted. And so it turned out: after some difficulties with the exit from the opening with live black pieces in the fourth round, Santos managed to stabilize the position. But no more: Anand did not lose and was not satisfied with a draw, but won again, demonstrating strategic virtuosity. This Monday he will lift the trophy of the winner of the Magistral Ciudad de Leon tournament for the tenth time. His successful longevity at the elite level is unlikely to be paralleled in any other sport.

Speaking to EL PAÍS after the victory, Anand analyzed his performance at the tournament: “Obviously, I didn’t come to Leon in good shape because I don’t play many tournaments. And it took me longer than others to warm up. However, in the semi-final against Topalov, I knew how to apply my experience. And today I also learned to wait for my moment patiently and precisely.” And what is the key to him being ranked 11th in the world at 54? Although I don’t play much and may not be completely up to date with technological developments and new ideas, I try not to pay attention to it and dedicate hours to training and taking care of myself. It’s working quite well for now.” In response to a question from Faustino Oro, he joked: “They usually say that you need to crush young prodigies before they grow up. “I didn’t do it to that boy, but at least I gave him an autograph.”

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