León Masters: Anand beats Topalov and Santos to claim tenth title

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/1/2024 – The main event of the León Chess Festival was the León Masters, a 4-player knockout tournament featuring Arjun Erigaisi, Vishy Anand, Veselin Topalov and Jaime Santos. In its 37th edition, the event saw Anand grabbing his tenth title after beating Topalov in the semis and defending champion Santos in the final. Local hero Santos stunned top seed Arjun in their semifinal encounter. | Photo: Luque

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Aruna’s birthday present

The 37th edition of the “Magistral Ciudad de León” took place on June 28-30 at the Spanish city’s Auditorium. A 4-player knockout tournament with a rapid time control was once again the format of the festival’s main event.

Three matches took place, one per day, from Friday to Sunday. The semifinals were played on Friday and Saturday, and the two winners faced each other on Sunday. The drawing of lots resulted in Vishy Anand facing Veselin Topalov in the first semifinal and Arjun Erigaisi facing Jaime Santos in the second semifinal.

Each match consisted of four rapid games (20 minutes for the game plus 10-second increments). In case of a draw, two blitz games followed (5 minutes + 3-second increments); if the tie remained, the match winner would be decided in Armageddon (White gets 6 minutes, Black gets 5 minutes and draw odds).

Anand defeated Topalov by a 2½-1½ score on Friday, while Santos stunned top seed Arjun by the same score in the second semifinal. In the final, Anand got the better of Santos — who was the defending champion — in an exciting match.

This was Anand’s tenth title in León. For many years, the legend from Chennai lived in Collado Mediano, a small city near Madrid, so he speaks Spanish fluently and has often participated in top events organized in Bilbao and León.

Coincidentally, the 54-year-old obtained the title on his wife’s birthday. It is well known that Aruna Anand has played a vital role in her husband’s career. As Vishy himself recounted on his X account, it was Aruna who encouraged him to play in León despite her birthday being on the same date as the final:

It was yet another achievement by the 5-time world champion, who continues to show his strength while semi-retired from official competitions!

Vishy Anand, Jaime Santos

Vishy Anand facing Jaime Santos in the final | Photo: Luque

Topalov 0 - 1 Anand

Analysis by Klaus Besenthal

Veselin Topalov

Veselin Topalov | Photo: Luque

Santos 1 - 0 Arjun

Analysis by Klaus Besenthal

Jaime Santos, Arjun Erigaisi

Arjun Erigaisi | Photo: Luque

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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.
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