In remembrance of Ruy L?ɬ?pez

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Ruy L?ɬ?pezLast Sunday, in the Spanish town Zafra (in the Badajoz province of the Extremadura region), the Magistral Ruy L?ɬ?pez started. It's the most important part of the Festival Internacional Ajedrez Ruy L?ɬ?pez, which was named after the illustrious chess player who was born in Zafra. For their main tournament, the organisers managed to bring together a very colourful group consisting of Ruslan Ponomariov, Kirshnan Sasikiran, Gabriel Sargissian, Ivan Sokolov, Julio Granda Zuniga, Manuel P?ɬ©rez Calendario, Hou Yifan and Antoaneta Stefanova.

Google Map: Zafra

I translated the next paragraph, from the tournament website, from Spanish: Ruy L?ɬ?pez de Segura was born in 1540 in Zafra. Still a young man, he decided to dedicate himself to priesthood. At 20, during a pilgrimage in Rome he met the strongest Italian chess players of that time. This encouraged him to write an instructional book about chess, with which he became world famous: Libro de la invenci?ɬ?n liberal y el arte del juego del ajedrez. In 1573 he had already beaten the strongest players of those days, amongst them Equivel, Cer?ɬ?n and Pedrosa. During a visit to pope Gregorio XIII in Rome he beat the Italian champion Leonardo il Puttino and so Ruy L?ɬ?pez can be considered the first world champion of chess.

The participants in front of the 16th century castle "Parador of Zafra"

The rate of play in the "Magistral" is 40 moves in 1,5 hours, and then 30 minutes and 30 seconds increment each move to finish the game. The prize fund doesn't seem to be mentioned on the (by the way very pretty) website. Besides this big tournament, the Festival also sees the Open tournament, a nine round swiss (rapid play) in which the Ruy L?ɬ?pez opening (1.e4 e5. 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5) is obligatory, with a 3000 euros first prize. Finally, a "Linex Youth" tournament is played in Zafra, another nine round rapid swiss where three laptop computers form the prizes for the winners in the categories under 18s, under 14s, and under 10s.

Thus far, the main tournament has seen nothing but good fighting chess. In the first round, a brilliant game was played between Ponomariov and Sokolov. The ex (FIDE) world champion Ruslan Ponomariov sacrificed two pieces for a tremendous attack, which proved decisive mainly because of Black's lacking development.

Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine, 2723)

Ivan Sokolov (The Netherlands, 2652)

The second round saw the first surprise of the tournament, when Manuel P?ɬ©rez Candelario defeated Sokolov, players who differ about 150 rating points.

Manuel P?ɬ©rez Calendario (Spain, 2515)

The Dutchman seemed to imitate Ponomariov a bit by sacrifing a piece himself with the white pieces, but the game remained extremely complicated and in time trouble things went wrong.

Calendario beating Sokolov

In the third round Candelario maintained his leading position by drawing against Sasikiran, but finally had to lay down his king against Ponomariov in round four. The Ukrainian had no mercy after his surprising third-round loss against Granda Zuniga, who showed his immense natural talent is still there.

Julio Granda Zuniga (Peru, 2612)

The young Chinese star Hou Yifan is having a hard time in Spain so far. She lost to Sargissian, drew with Granda, lost to Stefanova and then also to Sokolov.

Hou Yifan (China, 2509)

Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria, 2483)

Gabriel Sargissian (Armenia, 2658)

Krishnan Sasikiran (India, 2700)

The main arbiter: Luis Blasco

Here are the games from rounds 1-4:

Current standings:

Magistral after round 4

1. Gabriel SARGISSIAN (2658) ARM 3,5 2. Manuel Perez CANDELARIO (2515) ESP 2,5 3. Julio GRANDA (2612) PER 2,5 4. Russlan PONOMARIOV (2723) UKR 2,5 5. Antoaneta STEFANOVA (2483) BUL 1,5 6. Ivan SOKOLOV (2652) HOL 1,5 7. Krishnan SASIKIRAN (2700) IND 1,5 8. HOU YIFAN (2509) CHI 0,5

With thanks to Manuel Rodr?ɬ?guez Garc?ɬ?a. All photos by Jorge Armestar Marroquin.
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