Leon Final: Wei Yi wins on tiebreaks

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/10/2014 – Leon has been a stepping stone in the career of many elite grandmasters. The event has been a battle ground for Karjakin, Carlsen, Leko and many others. Today a new star joins that prestigious group as Wei Yi emerges victorious in the Leon rapid tournament by narrowly defeating Vallejo. The win came despite Wei Yi finding himself several times with less than one second on the clock.

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The XXVII Master's City of Leon has commenced. The tournament features only four players in a unique weekend tournament. A knock-out system is being used and the games are being played on a rapid time control.

Chinese Prodigy of 15 years of age defeats Vallejo in the tie-breaks of the final
by Leontxo Garcia

Not only did he win, but the champion of the 27th edition of Magistral de Leon was very modest: “The key to my victory was luck. Vallejo had very advantageous positions and, luckily for me, he was unable to finish them, especially in the third game and in the first of the tiebreak, where I was very close to losing” admitted Wei Yi.

The mayor of Leon, Emilio Gutierrez, made the honorary first move

Vallejo, almost without voice due to a throat infection that he suffers since Friday, responded to the sportsmanship of the Champion and knew how to lose: “I am happy of how I played in general, and of course I am aware that I could have finished off at least a couple of occasions. But it does not take away from my rival who played very well to take advantage of his position in the sixth round, with very precise strikes and very noteworthy considering he only had one minute in the clock.”

Vallejo certainly had his chances, but conversion was not on his side today

It was an unforgettable afternoon, full of emotion and high quality chess considering the rapid time control. From the moment that the mayor, Emilio Gutierrez, made the opening move until the arbiter, Joaquin Espejo, proclaimed Wei Yi as the victor, the spectators did not have any occasion to be bored as in all six rounds there were moments of tension or brilliancy.

Wei Yi defeated Salgado by the narrowest margin possible
and now he had to beat Vallejo in tiebreak. Not much room for error!

As Ivan Salgado, current Spanish Champion and of Iberoamerica, explained when he was commentating: “Wei Yi has demonstrated in this tournament that he is a very complete player, despite his age.” This affirmation takes especial importance for one concrete reason: “We all thought that, as it usually happens with prodigies, he would be very strong tactically but not so much strategically. However, here he has shown that he is able to keep his cool and understand in-depth the positions that are quiet but complex. Certainly he is a very strong grandmaster, who is definitely underrated, and he will climb the rankings quickly. He is also a very composed person.

Leontxo Garcia, legendary chess commentator in Spanish for time immemorial

As it has happened several times in the 27 years of history of the tournament, it is more than probable that this success is one of the many steps in the chain of future triumphs for a future top elite player. Leon was host to Carlsen, Leko and Karjakin when they were teenagers, just to name a few. And it all indicates that when the next book is written about the tournament, maybe on its 50th anniversary, Wei Yi will have a very distinguished spot. And the same has been said by the sponsors of this weekend. With or without economic crisis, Leon will continue to be one of the capitals of chess worldwide.

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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.
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