León: Anand, Shírov… and a secret character

by ChessBase
6/3/2011 – Viswanathan Anand is the reigning World Champion, and leads the FIDE world rankings. The Indian is also a well-known specialist in fast time controls. His opponent in the 14th edition of the traditional Ciudad de León Rapid Chess Match is the tremendously imaginative and combative GM Alexei Shirov of Spain. The match will be accompanied by a mysterious "Restless Player". 4:30 p.m. on Playchess.

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Press release

Anand, Shírov… and a secret character

The tournament enters Facebook with great force

Tradition and routine often outweigh innovation in chess tournaments. One of the few exceptions is the Magistral Ciudad de León, always avant-garde. There is a mysterious and unprecedented character in the 24th edition, The Restless Player, who will appear alongside the world champion, Viswanathan Anand, and his ingenious opponent, Alexei Shirov, any place or time, beginning at the opening on Thursday.

The Restless Player is a creation of The Restless Investor, the sole new sponsor in the 24th edition (all others are an example of faithfulness for many years), which thus provides an innovative element to the tournament one year before its silver jubilee, scheduled for 2012. The mysterious character is also a very incisive and anonymous writer, who has already published juicy stories on el inversor inquieto.

It looks like Anand started last week journey from his hometown of Chennai (formerly Madras, in southeast India) with mixed feelings: some disappointment due to the separation for a few days of his baby, Akhil (this name has different meanings in Tamil, but Anand prefers “ruler” and “king”) and his wife, Aruna; and, on the other hand, hope for success for the eighth time in Leon. To increase his chances for a new victory, he has been working for a few days at his other home in Collado Mediano (Madrid), together with his coach, the Danish grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen.

Shirov will arrive in Leon on Wednesday with his wife, Olga, and his coach, Manuel Perez Candelario. As happens to most top players, his score with the World Champion is very unfavorable for him since Anand defeated him in the World Championship 2000 final in Tehran (Iran). But he has now have an appropriate opportunity to retaliate, as Shirov seems to be in very good shape after winning in Lublin (Poland) with plenty of creativity in his games.

The drawing of lots will be on Thursday, 8 p.m, at the Hotel Conde Luna, with both players and the international arbiter Joaquin Espejo. The games (two each day) will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the excellent Auditorium, equipped with giant screens and handsets, so that spectators can see the moves and close-ups of the players, and listen to the commentators: Miguel Illescas, eight times Spanish champion and international master Michael Rahal. Following the success of previous editions, Castilla y León television will provide extensive coverage, including live connections. Each player will have 45 minutes per game plus 30 seconds increment after each move.

The tournament director, Marcelino Sion, is excited by the success on Facebook, with over a thousand followers in the first 24 hours. As usual, the organizers will take great care on the parallel activities: 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, which have been loyal to the tournament for many years.

Leontxo García, Press Officer


The Anand-Shirov match will be played under the FIDE Active Chess rules. It will be a six games match. Two games will be played each day. Each player will have 45 minutes per game + 30 seconds increment after each move. All six games will be played, even if the match winner has been already decided. If the result after six games is 3-3, a five minute games tiebreak match of two games will be played immediately after the sixth normal game. If there is still a tie, the Armageddon system will be played: five minutes for White, four minutes for Black, and Black will be considered the winner if there is a draw.

Press chief Leontxo Garcia, Vishy Anand, Alexei Shirov and arbiter Joaquín Espejo

Vishy Anand, Joaquín Espejo, Alexei Shirov after the drawing of colours

The colours for the first game were decided by a drawing of lots by the Chief Arbiter, Joaquin Espejo on June 2rd (Thursday) at the Conde Luna Hotel. Alexei Shirov has white in the first game.


Thursday, June 2nd Arrival, drawing of lost in Conde Luna Hotel
Friday, June 3rd Games 1 and 2 (16:30), León auditorium
Saturday, June 4th Games 3 and 4 (16:30), León auditorium
Sunday, June 5th Games 5 and 6 (16:30), + Tiebreaks
Monday, June 6th Closing ceremony, Prizegiving (14:30)
Simuls (17:30), León University

Previous winners


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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