Lean Leon Lives On

Lean Leon Lives On

| 14 | Chess Event Coverage

This year's chess festival in Leon, Spain has survived the economic cutbacks that have beset many other events, but only just.

In recent years Leon has played host to a small rapid tournament of four grandmasters, but this year there will be just TWO players taking part. Not so much a tournament then, than a 6-game rapid match.

Let's just be thankful it is taking place at all, and that Vishy Anand and Alexei Shirov give us some memorable games between 2-6 June 2011.


The time control is the relatively sedate 'rapid' control of 60 minutes plus 10 second increments, which should allow for some high quality play.


By LEONTXO GARCIA (Press Officer) 

The World Champion and his most creative opponent will play a match on June 2-6.

The four-time world champion Vishy Anand amazes by his prodigious speed to see great moves in a fraction of a second. Alexei Shirov, nicknamed the Leonardo da Vinci of chess for the exceptional beauty of many of his games, is one of the fans favorites among the top players. The Indian, 41, and the Spanish, 38, will play (match format) the 24th Ciudad de Leon Masters on June 2-6. As both are geniuses, the rapid art is guaranteed.

Only five players born before 1973 are among the world’s top 25 list on January 1. It is no coincidence that Anand and Shirov are two of them: both deserve to be called “genius”, no matter how high you set the bar for that adjective. Anand, The Rapid of Madras, has been world champion by three different formats: knockout system (Teheran 2000, he beat Shirov in the final); round robin (Mexico City 2007) and matches (Bonn 2008, against Kramnik; and Sofia 2010, against Topalov). Since 2000, when he lost the final, Shirov (born in Latvia, Spanish since 1996) has remained among the most desired stars for the tournament organizers because it is always a favorite for the public. The collection of his best games annotated, Fire on board, is an essential book for all chess lovers. 

 Last year's final in Leon between Aronian and Gelfand.

Therefore, both players fit nicely with the wishes of the organizers for the twenty-fourth edition. The rules, written by the prestigious arbiter Joaquin Espejo, indicate that Anand and Shirov will play six games (Friday to Sunday, two per day) with 60 minutes per side plus ten seconds increment after each move in the magnificent Leon Auditorium. GM Miguel Illescas (eight times Spanish champion) and IM Michael Rahal will make the live commentary, and the Castilla and Leon TV has scheduled a special coverage, including live broadcasting of some games.

The Leon organizers, whose director is Marcelino Sion, maintain that social and professional chess should function like communicating doors. The parallel activities are consistent with that idea: simuls by Shirov, a lecture by Illescas on the Kasparov-Deep Blue historic match, another lecture class for the local young talents by the IM Sergio Estremera, a chess cinema week and the traditional Young Talents tournament. Despite the big economic crisis, everything will be sponsored by a balanced combination of public bodies and private companies: a clear sign of how solid this tournament is.

Further information:
Leontxo García

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