Magic Extremadura win Spanish League with perfect score

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/8/2019 – Eight teams travelled down to Melilla, in the north coast of Africa, to participate at the Honour Division of the Spanish Team Championship. Four teams arrived as clear favourites, but Magic Extremadura from Mérida were the ones that got first place, getting seven team victories in the same number of rounds. Gros Xake Taldea and Beniajan Duochess finished second and third respectively. | Photo: Patricia Claros / FEDA

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Short and sweet

The "División de Honor" is the last stage of the Spanish Team Championships. While other national team events, like the German Bundesliga and the Chinese League, are held over long periods of time with playing dates spread out throughout the year, the eight teams competing in the Honour Division play a single round robin tournament 'in one sitting' — the same format is used in the Polish Extraliga and the French Top 12, although these leagues include more teams (ten and twelve respectively).   

In this event, each team presents a six-player line-up in every round and must necessarily include at least three Spaniards and one female player. Much like in the Olympiad, each team victory is worth two match points, while a 3:3 draw gives one match point to each team. 

This year, the favourites by rating were the Beniajan Duochess, a team from Murcia which had four 2600+ players in their line-up: Ukrainian stars Vassily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov, Spain's number two David Antón and Argentina's leading player Sandro Mareco. Moreover, they included current Spanish woman champion Sabrina Vega as their female representative on board six.

Beniajan Duo Chess, Spanish Team Chess Championship

Beniajan Duochess from Murcia | Photo: Patricia Claros / FEDA

Then came the Magic Extremadura, a squad with three 2600+ players: Ivan Cheparinov on board one, Russian Alexandr Predke on board two and Spain's Manuel Perez Candelario, who played 'below' his younger compatriot Jaime Santos on board four. Let us not forget that Santos has tried his hand against some top guys at the Leon Masters

The Solvay and the Gros Xake Taldea also had heavy hitters on boards one and two, but their line-ups were not as deep as the ones mentioned above. Solvay were led by Indian grandmasters Sasikiran and Ganguly, while Gros Xake Taldea included Etienne Bacrot and Arkadij Naditisch on top boards. Notably, while the rest of the teams placed their female representative on either the fifth or sixth board, the Grox Xake Taldea had Elisabeth Paehtz playing on board three.

Elisabeth Paehtz

Elisabeth Paehtz scored 3½ out of 7 against strong opposition on board three | Photo: Patricia Claros / FEDA

Out of these four squads, Solvay could not perform at the expected level, in part due to a shaky performance by their two leading boards. 

Given the short nature of the event, two of the favourites already faced each other in round one. The eventual champions of Magic Extremadura defeated Beniajan Duochess despite Cheparinov losing against Ivanchuk — the Ukrainian genius had a curious outing in Melilla, winning the three games he played with White and losing the three games he played with Black. Emilio Moreno and Alina Bivol gave 'Magic' the all-important victory:

Beniajan Duochess 2½:3½ Magic Extremadura - Round 1

 

Magic Extremadura, Spanish Team Chess Championship 2019

Magic Extremadura right before the tournament kicks off | Photo: Patricia Claros / FEDA

The next two rounds saw all the favourites getting win after win in their match-ups, and then came the crucial fourth round. While 'Magic' got the better of an uninspired squad of Solvay, Gros Xake Taldea versus Beniajan Duochess was a tension-packed match. In the end, Gros Xake Taldea got the victory thanks to wins on the bottom boards — Santiago González beat Josep Manuel López in an imbalanced endgame that could have gone either way, while Íñigo Argandoña needed 115 moves to get the key full point against Sabrina Vega.  

Gros Xake Taldea 3½:2½ Beniajan Duochess - Round 4

 

Beniajan Duochess, Gros Xake Taldea

A dramatic battle saw Gros Xake Taldea emerging as winners | Photo: Patricia Claros / FEDA

The very next day, Magic Extremadura all but secured first place with a victory over the team led by Etienne Bacrot. Cheparinov and Emilio Moreno were the heroes of the day. Moreno was one of three players from the winning team that had an impressive individual performance. He scored 5½ points on board four, Manuel Perez Candelario collected 5 on board three, and Alexandr Predke gained no less than 21 rating points by scoring 6 points in the seven-round competition. 

Magic Extremadura 4:2 Gros Xake Taldea - Round 5

 

Magic Extremadura, Gros Xake Taldea

Cheparinov led the Magic Extremadura to tournament victory | Photo: Patricia Claros / FEDA

The system used in this championship includes relegations. In this year's edition, Collado Villalba from Madrid and GranDama Santa Lucía from Gran Canaria were relegated to "Primera División". 


Spanish Honour Division - Final standings

Rk Team MP BP City
1 Magic Extremadura 14 29½ Merida (Badajoz)
2 Gros Xake Taldea 10 22½ San Sebastian
3 CAC Beniajan Duochess 9 23 Murcia
4 CA Solvay 7 21½ Torrelavega (Cantabria)
5 Escola d`Escacs de Barcelona 6 20½ Barcelona
6 CA Jaime Casas 4 18½ Monzon (Huesca)
7 CA Collado Villalba 3 17 Villalba (Madrid)
8 CA GranDama Santa Lucia 3 15½ Santa Lucia (Gran Canaria)

All games

 

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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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