Leon Masters with Dominguez, Shirov, Maghsoodloo and Santos

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/9/2020 – The corona pandemic did not prevent the organizers of the Leon Masters (Magistral Ciudad de León) from launching the 33rd edition of the traditional yearly event. The main event, to be played on July 10-12, is a four-player knockout with two Spanish players and a couple of international stars. In the semifinals, Alexei Shirov will face local hero Jaime Santos, while Leinier Dominguez will play defending champion Parham Mahgsoodloo. Given the circumstances, the games will be played online. | Photos: Official site

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The tradition lives on

Magistral Ciudad de Leon 2020The “Magistral Ciudad León” will take place for a 33rd consecutive year, this time on the online platform chess.com. A long-standing tradition, it has seen some of the strongest players of our era winning the event: Veselin Topalov, Garry Kasparov, Vishy Anand (nine-time winner), Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen, Wesley So and two participants of this year’s edition — Alexei Shirov and defending champion Parham Maghsoodloo.

Although the players will not meet at the “Auditorio Ciudad de León” for obvious reasons, the same format from recent years will be in place. Two Spanish players — Alexei Shirov and Jaime Santos — will be joined by Leinier Dominguez and Parham Maghsoodloo in a knockout tournament that will last three days.

Santos, who was born in Leon, is actually the second highest-rated player in the event if we go by rapid ratings. Both Shirov and Maghsoodloo ar higher rated than Santos in the standard ranking (classical), but the Leonese has proven that rapid chess is his forte — in fact, Santos drew Anand and Paco Vallejo in the rapid section of the semifinals in 2017 and 2018, but ended up losing on tiebreaks.

After Thursday’s drawing of lots, the pairings for the semifinals look as follows (all rounds start at 17:30 CEST):

  • Friday: Shirov vs. Santos
  • Saturday: Dominguez vs. Maghsoodloo
  • Sunday: Final

Each match will consist of four rapid games (20 minutes for the whole game, with 10-second increments from move one). In case of a draw, two blitz games will follow (5 minutes + 3-second increments), and if the tie has not been broken the match winner will be decided in Armageddon (White gets 6 minutes, Black gets 5 minutes and draw odds). 

The games will be broadcast with commentary on the official YouTube channel. If you understand Spanish, you can also enjoy the 29-minute presentation of the event:

All games from the 2019 edition

  • Semifinal 1:  Vassil Ivanchuk 2½ : 1½ Nihal Sarin
  • Semifinal 2:  Parham Maghsoodloo 2½ : 1½ Jaime Santos
  • Final: Maghsoodloo 3 : 1 Ivanchuk


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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