Vallejo win the jubilee Ciudad de Leon Masters 3½-2½

6/11/2012 – In spite of Nadal-Djokovic in Paris and Spain-Italy in Gdansk more than 200 people showed up to watch the third day of Topalov-Vallejo Leon. Actually, in the lobby of the theatre fans could watch all three encounters, including some exciting rapid chess. On day two Vallejo scored 1.5/2 and on the final day each player chalked up a win. Once again the games were marked by multiple inaccuracies.

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This year the Ciudad de Leon Masters celebrated its silver jubilee, after 25 consecutive editions. The event pitted Bulgarian GM Veselin Topalov, winner of the FIDE tournament world championship in 2005, against GM Francisco Vallejo Pons, the top Spaniard in the current FIDE rankings. Both are considered creative and combative players. They know each other very well, which required greater care on their home preparation. Topalov hired Vallejo as a coach for a couple of years, and was very satisfied with his work: "A large part of the new ideas that are in my games of those years are from Paco", he concedes.

The event consisted of six games, played from Friday, June 8th, to Sunday, June 10th, two per day at a rate of 40 minutes per side plus 25 seconds after each move. GM commentary for the spectators is provided by GM Miguel Illescas (eight times Spanish champion) and IM Michael Rahal.

Day two

The first game of the second day, a Sicilian Scheveningen, saw Francisco Vallejo Pons, pile the pressure on his Bulgarian opponent. By move 20 Spain's top GM was clearly on the path to victory, when he complicated things with an exchange sacrifice to open up the black king. One move later Topalov handed over the full point with a capital blunder, the second in this match. Vallejo was able to finish off his former mentor and employee with a flourish.

[Event "XXV Torneo Magistral Leon"] [Site "Leon ESP"] [Date "2012.06.09"] [Round "3"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B90"] [WhiteElo "2697"] [BlackElo "2752"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2012.06.08"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. h3 e6 7. g4 Be7 8. g5 Nfd7 9. h4 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. Be3 O-O 12. Qd2 Nc6 13. O-O-O Nxd4 14. Bxd4 Rc8 15. Rg1 Ne5 16. Qe3 Nc4 17. Bxc4 Rxc4 18. f4 Re8 19. f5 Bf8 20. f6 e5 21. Bb6 Qd7 22. fxg7 Bxg7 23. Bc5 Bf8 24. h5 Rxc3 25. bxc3 Re6 26. Bb4 Qc7 27. Qa7 Qc8 28. Rdf1 Be7 {White is winning - he should simply bring his queen over to the kingside to join in the attack.} 29. Rf6 $6 {Unnecessary - give Black drawing chances.} Bxf6 30. gxf6+ {[#]} Kf8 $4 ({After} 30... Kh8 {White has still a some work ahead of him.}) 31. Qb6 {Threatening 32.Bxd6+ followed by mate.} Bc6 {32. Bxd6+ still works and is mate in 11. But Paco Vallejo finds a prettier win:} 32. Rg8+ (32. Rg8+ Kxg8 33. Qg1+ Kf8 34. Qg7+ Ke8 35. Qg8+ Kd7 36. Qxf7+ Kd8 37. Ba5+ {and mate to follow.}) 1-0

Vallejo now led the match with 2½-½. In the second game he played the French and was outplayed in a more traditional fashion by the Bulgarian. The score after four games: 2½-1½.

Day three

[Event "XXV Magistral de León"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.06.10"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Topalov, Veselin"] [Result "1-0"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2012.06.07"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventRounds "6"] [SourceDate "2012.06.07"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Qf3 g6 7. h3 Bg7 8. Bg5 Qa5 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O-O Nc6 11. Kb1 Bd7 12. Nb3 Qc7 13. g4 Ne5 14. Qg2 Be6 15. f4 Nc4 16. Bd4 Rac8 $2 {Highly incautious.} 17. f5 $1 Bd7 18. Bxc4 Qxc4 {The queen is going to be in grave trouble.} 19. g5 Nh5 20. Na5 {[#]} Qxd4 {The queen only had the squares b4 and c7 to flee to, in both cases with unsavoury consequences. He decides to give up his queen for a rook and minor piece.} 21. Rxd4 Bxd4 22. Nd5 Rfe8 23. Rd1 Bg7 24. Qf3 Bc6 25. Nxc6 bxc6 26. Nxe7+ Rxe7 27. f6 Bxf6 28. gxf6 Re6 29. Qa3 Nxf6 30. Rxd6 Rxe4 31. b3 Re1+ 32. Kb2 Ne4 33. Qa5 Nxd6 34. Qxe1 Kf8 35. Qe5 Rd8 36. Qa5 Ke7 37. Qxa6 Rc8 38. a4 c5 39. Qa7+ Kd8 40. a5 Rc7 41. Qa8+ Kd7 42. a6 Nc8 43. Qd5+ Ke7 44. c3 Nb6 45. Qe5+ Kd7 46. Qf6 Nc8 47. Qxf7+ Kc6 48. Qf6+ Kb5 49. c4+ Ka5 50. Qd8 ({Another beautiful line is } 50. b4+ cxb4 51. Qd8 Kb6 52. c5+ Kc6 53. Kb3 $18 {as in the game.}) 50... Kb6 51. b4 cxb4 52. c5+ Kc6 53. Kb3 g5 54. Kc4 {Lovely ending, congratulations Paco!} 1-0

This meant that Vallejo was leading by 3½-½ and had already decided the match in his favour. "But the Bulgarian belongs to a breed of athletes who fight to exhaustion and are marked by great professionality," writes the official bulletin. "He mobilised both virtues to seize the initiative in game six in a final assault with the white pieces. However, after two hours of battle it appeared that the game would end in a draw. But Vallejo made a very strange move and allowed his opponent the sweet taste of victory in the final game."

[Event "XXV Magistral de León"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.06.10"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Topalov, Veselin"] [Black "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Result "1-0"] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "2012.06.07"] [EventType "rapid"] [EventRounds "6"] [SourceDate "2012.06.07"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. e4 d6 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 e5 8. Bd3 c5 9. Ne2 Nc6 10. d5 Na5 11. Ng3 Nd7 12. Rb1 Re8 13. O-O b6 14. Nf5 Nf8 15. Ne3 Ng6 16. Re1 Nf4 17. Bf1 Rf8 18. f3 g6 19. g3 Nh5 20. Bd3 Kh8 21. Rb2 Bh3 22. Ng4 f6 23. Kh1 Qe7 24. Qb1 Rae8 25. Rbe2 Qf7 26. Bh6 Rg8 27. Bd2 Rgf8 28. Rg1 Re7 29. Ree1 Qe8 30. Qd1 Ng7 31. Bh6 Bxg4 32. fxg4 g5 33. h4 Qg6 34. Bxg7+ Kxg7 35. Rgf1 h6 36. Rf2 Kg8 37. hxg5 hxg5 38. Rh2 Rh7 39. Rh5 Qe8 40. Kg2 Kg7 41. Reh1 Rfh8 42. Qf3 Qg6 43. Qe2 Kf8 44. Bc2 Ke7 45. R1h2 Nb7 46. Bd1 Na5 47. Qd3 Kf7 48. Bf3 Kg7 49. Qf1 Kf7 50. Kf2 Kg7 51. Ke3 Qe8 52. Be2 Qg6 53. Qd1 Qe8 54. Qh1 Rxh5 55. gxh5 {[#]The game should be a draw, but instead of blockading the dangerous h-pawn with his rook or king Black seeks counterplay on the queenside:} Qa4 $2 56. h6+ Kf7 57. Qf1 Qxa3 $4 {Madness. Did he imagine a perpetual would save the game?} 58. Qf5 {Threatening 59.Qd7+ and mate to follow.} Qxc3+ 59. Kf2 Qd4+ 60. Kg2 Qd2 61. Qd7+ ({and because of} 61. Qd7+ Kf8 62. Qg7+ Ke8 63. Qxh8+ {with mate to follow:}) 1-0

Veselin Topalov in the press conference with journalist and organiser Leonxto Garcia

Leonxto discusses the events with Paco Vallejo

The president of the Spanish Chess Federation Javier Ochoa with the pride of Spanish chess

Arbiter Joaquin Espejo, SCF President Javier Ochoa, Deputy of Sports of Leon
Jose Maria Lopez Garcia Benito, Leontxo Garcia

Presents: fine Spanish wine for both players

Final standings

Rk Name
1 Vallejo, Francisco
2 Topalov, Veselin


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