León celebrates its 25th edition with a Vallejo-Topalov match

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The 25th edition of the annual chess festival in León, Spain will include a 6-game match between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain.

Press release by Leontxo Garcia

Fans cherish chess players who take risks and seek beauty in every game. Two of them, the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov and Spaniard Paco Vallejo, a former World Champion and a former U-18 World Champion, have been chosen to fight each other in the 25th edition of the Magistral Ciudad de León, in the León Auditorium, from June 7 to 11th.

Most of the new ideas I have shown in recent months are from Vallejo,

Topalov unveiled a few years ago, when he had hired the grandmaster from Menorca as a second. When they traveled together to a tournament – like for example Nanjing (China) in 2008 – Vallejo worked all night, while Topalov was sleeping, to show his analysis at breakfast. That phrase is an explicit recognition of the great talent of Vallejo, but also implies that both know each other well, making it difficult to prepare for the six games in León (two per day from Friday to Sunday).

The games will be played at an accelerated rate of play: 40 minutes plus an additional 25 seconds increment. If the match is tied 3-3 after six games, the tiebreak will be even more exciting, with five-minute games, everything under the supervision of the arbiter, Joaquin Espejo.

Topalov has always been a model of professionalism, both on stage and in the corridors, with, as the only exception, the 2006 World Championship in Elista (Russia), where his coach, Silvio Danailov, accused without evidence the Russian Vladimir Kramnik of cheating, using the help of computers. Very combative, Topalov tends to seek the limits of the offensive possibilities in his positions on the board. He's always well dressed and always brings the best attitude, taking time each day for his fans and sponsors, as well as journalists. Perhaps together with the Hungarian Judit Polgar, Topalov understand the best that elite chess players should not just play well, but also make a good impression. The 2005 FIDE World Champion and runner-up in 2010 played very few events in 2011 but has returned to work in 2012, at the age of 37. He continues to prepare physically, and still has much to say.

Vallejo, 29, is the best player born in Spain since Ruy Lopez, who was considered the unofficial world champion in the sixteenth century. Vallejo won his first medal (silver) at the age of 9 in the World Under 10. More medals followed at the European and World Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 until he became World Champion Under 18.

Three world champions, Kasparov, Anand and Topalov, have said that he could be among the top 5 if he would train intensively. But Vallejo, a follower of Taoism, prefers a more relaxed life and refuses to be the chess Rafa Nadal. However, his tremendous talent, enormous ability to fight and his originality of approach make him highly appreciated by organizers and fans, and help him to stay in the top 30 in the world regularly.

The favorable results of audience surveys conducted by Sofres in 2010 and 2011 more than justify that the Castilla y Leon TV corporation will again broadcast the best moments of this 25th edition live, and produce special programs. As always, the games will be broadcast live online, with comments by grandmaster Miguel Illescas (8 times champion of Spain) and international master Michael Rahal.

There's no shortage of parallel activities that give a special stamp on this tournament, such as a chess films series, a master class and a tournament for young talents, a simultaneous exhibition, a conference on chess and computers, and a arbiters seminar.

The tremendous difficulties generated by the economic crisis have forced the organizing team, led by Marcelino Sion, to fine-tune the budget of the silver jubilee. But, nevertheless, León keeps alive a tournament that has never failed for 25 consecutive years.

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