A strong line-up at the Spanish Championship

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/19/2019 – Most of the strongest Spanish players are participating at the 2019 edition of the national championship in Marbella, Málaga. After three rounds, five players have managed to maintain a perfect score: Alexei Shirov, Iván Salgado, Jaime Santos, José Cuenca and defending champion Gabriel del Río. The strong event had Anatoly Karpov as a special guest. The former world champion also gave a simul. | Photo: Diario Sur

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Karpov in Marbella

The twelfth official world chess champion Anatoly Karpov has not completely got away from the royal game. The 68-year-old living legend recently drew rising star Nihal Sarin in a rapid and blitz match in Cap d'Agde and announced his participation at next year's edition of the traditional Tepe Sigeman Tournament in Mälmo, which will be his first strong round robin with a classical time control in quite a while.

This past weekend, he was in Marbella, a city situated next to the Mediterranean Sea, between Málaga and the Strait of Gibraltar. Karpov, who held the world championship crown from 1975 to 1985, was the guest of honour at the inauguration of the 2019 Spanish Championship. Besides striking the gong that officially kicked off the event, he gave a simultaneous exhibition to 17 kids aged 8 to 14. Miguel Ruiz Buendía, from the Club "Ajedrez Bargas Solíss de Cuenca" managed to score a draw against the Russian, who won the remaining sixteen games.

Anatoly Karpov

The former world champion giving a simul under the sun | Photo: José Antonio Sanz / MARCA

According to Diario Sur, tournament organizer Alfonso Vilches mentioned that Karpov was thrilled to take part in the event. Vilches also declared: "This is the best Spanish Championship ever, as we have gathered all the elite players from the past fifteen years, including Paco Vallejo and Sabrina Vega".

Indeed, seven out of the top ten players from the Iberian country are participating. The biggest absentee in terms of rating is 53-year-old Miguel Illescas, who has won the title a record eight times, getting it for the last time in 2010. He is, however, the one 2600+ Spanish player not in contention, as Francisco Vallejo, David Antón, Alexei Shirov and Manuel Pérez Candelario are all in Costa del Sol.

Anatoly Karpov

The championship is about to begin | Photo: Diario Sur 

The first three rounds

The open and women's championships are 9-round Swiss events with a time control of 90 minutes for the whole game plus 30-second increments from move one. The winner of the open tournament will take home €5,000. 

Sabrina Vega is the women's defending champion. In order to win it again, she will need to get the best score among the female players. Her highest-rated rivals this year are Mónica Calzetta, Liudmila Kolotilina and María Adela Perero. 

Among the men, on the other hand, Gabriel del Río arrived in Marbella as last year's champion. While in 2018 he was the fifth seed at the event held in Linares, he is now the thirteenth highest-rated player of the field. Notwithstanding, Del Río is one of five players with a perfect 3 out of 3 so far. In Tuesday's fourth round, the Argentine-born will face top seed Paco Vallejo with the black pieces.

Also on a perfect score are Alexei Shirov, who comes from having some good performances at the Grand Swiss and the European Team Championship; Iván Salgado, who won the championship in 2017; the young Jaime Santos; and José Cuenca, who finished second on tiebreak criteria last year, after having dominated the field until round seven.

Spanish Chess Championship 2019

The top boards on day one | Photo: Diario Sur 

Standings after Round 3 - Top 15

# Title Name Points APRO Elo
1 GM Shirov, Alexei 3 2270.0 2666
2 GM Santos Latasa, Jaime 3 2205.3 2581
3 GM Cuenca Jimenez, Jose Fernando 3 2200.7 2523
4 GM Salgado Lopez, Ivan 3 2177.7 2594
5 GM Del Rio De Angelis, Salvador G. 3 2020.0 2502
6 GM Vallejo Pons, Francisco 2358.3 2694
7 GM Anton Guijarro, David 2305.7 2686
8 GM Arizmendi Martinez, Julen Luis 2295.7 2517
9 GM Alsina Leal, Daniel 2226.0 2467
10 GM Perez Candelario, Manuel 2223.7 2623
11 GM Ibarra Jerez, Jose Carlos 2181.3 2540
12 GM Santos Ruiz, Miguel 2177.0 2583
13 FM Mingarro Carceller, Sergi 2163.0 2329
14 GM Asis Gargatagli, Hipolito 2156.7 2497
15 IM Ladron De Guevara Pinto, Paolo 2153.7 2442

...142 players

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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