In July: Leon Masters with Gelfand, Dominguez, Esipenko and Santos

by ChessBase
2/18/2021 – The traditional Spanish tournament in Leon is preparing a new star-studded lineup for its 34th edition, to be played on 8-12 July. The organizers intend to make it an over-the-board event if the sanitary situation allows it. If necessary, however, the tournament will take place online. The 6th edition of the International Open and the 2nd edition of the Invitational for Young Grandmasters will also take place.

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Gelfand joins the fun

Press release

Leon Masters Chess 2021The great Boris Gelfand will go head to head with three strong grandmasters at the 34th edition of the Magistral de Ajedrez Ciudad de León, the oldest tournament in Spain. Gelfand will face elite grandmaster Leinier Domínguez, Russian prodigy Andrey Esipenko and Spain’s vice-champion Jaime Santos. 

The organizers intend for the tournament to be played over-the-board on 8-12 July, as long as sanitary conditions allow it. As the date approaches, the organizers will work in parallel to have everything ready to convert it completely into an online tournament, if necessary — a modality that gave the 2020 edition massive following all over the world.

To this end, it has the support of various institutions and companies: Leon City Council, Junta de Castilla y León, University of León, El Inversor Inquieto, Sabadell Bank, Alsa and RMD.

A mix of legends and emerging players will face each other in Leon. Soviet-born Israeli star Boris Gelfand was one of the strongest chess players in the world for many years and one of the few who challenged the dominance of Kasparov and Karpov. He has been a challenger for the World Championship, and his results place him alongside legends such as Ivanchuk and Anand. He has not come to Leon since 2010, when he won the Masters event. 

Leinier Dominguez will defend his title as champion. Born in Cuba, Leinier is the highest-rated player born on the island after Capablanca. He is currently the 14th highest-rated player in the world. In 2008, in Almaty (Kazakhstan), Leinier became world blitz champion ahead of Ivanchuk and a long list of strong grandmasters.

Leinier Dominguez

Defending champion Leinier Dominguez

The very young Andrey Esipenko earned the right to participate in the Masters after winning the 1st World Young Talents Tournament in 2020. Born on 22 March 2002, he is one of the most promising Russian rising stars. He won the U10 European Chess Championship in 2012, the U16 European Chess Championship and was U16 World Champion in 2017. In January 2021, at the prestigious Tata Steel Chess tournament in the Netherlands, he defeated World Champion Magnus Carlsen.

Jaime Santos was from an early age the great hope of León. He learned to play with his father at the age of 5 and soon stood out, winning regional and national titles. He has been champion of Spain in the under-10, under-12, under-14 and under-16 categories, and has been part of the Spanish team of young talents on numerous occasions. Santos made his debut at the Leon Masters in 2016, and has shown impressive results against players as strong as Vishy Anand, Paco Vallejo and Dominguez.

As usual, a number of side events will be organized, including a simultaneous exhibition given by Esipenko, contests, lectures and open tournaments.


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