C.A. Solvay wins Spanish League, Gukesh shines

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
9/26/2022 – The Cantabrians from C.A. Solvay were crowned champions of the Spanish League’s ‘División de Honor’ after securing a decisive victory over Magic Extremadura in the final round. The team led by Pentala Harikrishna and Gukesh Dommaraju was the only one of four co-leaders to get a win in Saturday’s seventh round. DuoBeniaján Costa Cálida from Murcia and Magic from Extremadura got second and third place, respectively. | Photos: Spanish Chess Federation

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Four co-leaders before the final round

The Honor Division of the Spanish League took place on September 17-23 at the El Pósito Auditorium in the city of Linares, Jaén. Eight teams took part in the single round-robin competition. Each match was played over six boards, with the obligatory inclusion of a female representative on each team's roster.

C.A. Solvay, who was promoted to the Division of Honour after winning the First Division last year, quickly emerged as the favourite to take first place. In fact, the Cantabrian team was the only squad to win its first two matches. Subsequently, they maintained their winning streak until the fourth round.

It was only in round 5, played on Thursday, that C.A. Solvay got their first draw, when they drew against DuoBeniaján, the defending champion. On Friday, C.A. Solvay's loss to Andreu Paterna set up a nail-biting final round, with four teams tied for the lead, each with 9 points.

Surprisingly, DuoBeniaján and Andreu Paterna, both of whom belonged to the group of co-leaders, lost to nominally inferior opponents. Meanwhile, in the direct duel between Magic and C.A. Solvay, it was the Cantabrians who prevailed, convincingly beating their direct rivals thanks to victories by Gukesh Dommaraju, Anna Muzychuk and Oleg Korneev.

Coincidentally, the three players who scored wins in Saturday's final round were the best representatives of the champion team. Gukesh and Korneev scored 5 points in the tournament, while Muzychuk managed 4½ points. The three C.A. Solvay stars played in all seven rounds of the team championship.

Pentala Harikrishna, Anna Muzychuk

Pentala Harikrishna and Anna Muzychuk leading the way

DuoBeniaján Costa Cálida from Murcia and Magic from Extremadura finished second and third respectively. Iran's Amin Tabataei was the best representative of DuoBeniaján, while Argentina's Alan Pichot had the best performance for Magic.

Magic Extremadura

The Magic Extremadura squad

Amin Tabatabaei, Gukesh

Amin Tabatabaei (DuoBeniaján) beat Gukesh with black in the fifth round

Gukesh’s brilliancy

In the second round, the 16-year-old Indian who impressed the world at the Chennai Olympiad, scored an impressive win over Gawain Jones (Sestao Naval Hotel). Gukesh obtained a clear positional advantage with the white pieces, and found a couple of brilliant moves to underline the black monarch's weakness on the kingside.

[Check out Merijn van Delft’s excellent analysis of this game in his show from last week!]

 

Gukesh did not hesitate to sacrifice a pawn to open up more diagonals for his active pieces: 22.d6 Qxd6 23.Rbd1 Qc7 24.Bd5+ Kh8 25.Bb2+ Bg7

 

After the pawn sacrifice, White has placed his two bishops on the most dangerous diagonals for the black king. With 26.Ng5, one more piece joined the attack, and after Black played 26...Bf5, attacking the queen, Gukesh found a spectacular manoeuvre.

 

27.Qc3 is the winning move! The combination of threats with the rook on the e-file, the bishops on the diagonals and the knight on the kingside is lethal. For example, capturing the queen with 27...Bxc3 fails to 28.Bxc3+ Qg7 29.Nf7+ and 29...Rxf7 loses immediately to 30.Rxe8+ Rf8 31.Rxf8#

Jones went for 27...Rxe1+ and after 28.Rxe1 h6 Gukesh found another forced variation that gave him an immediate win: 29.Qxg7+ Qxg7 30.Re7

 

Black cannot capture the bishop because of 31.Rh7#. Jones threw in the towel. It was a brilliant victory for the young Indian, who was also the top scorer for the winning team in Linares.


See more: A remarkable edition of Karsten Müller’s Endgame Magic Show with Gukesh as the special guest!


Gukesh Dommaraju

A future world champion? Gukesh Dommaraju

Final standings

Full results and pairings at info64.org

  Team Match Ind. Rtg. Com.
1 C.A. Solvay 11,0 28 2574 CNT
2 DuoBeniajan Costa Calida de Monzon 9,0 25 2617 MUR
3 Magic Extremadura 9,0 23 2576 EXT
4 Andreu Paterna 9,0 22 2610 VAL
5 C.A. Silla 60 Aniversario 8,0 22 2651 VAL
6 C.A. Jaime Casas 6,0 20 2566 ARA
7 Sestao Hotel Naval 4,0 18 2556 VAS
8 C.E. Barcelona 0,0 10 2330 CAT

All games

 

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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.