Magnus Carlsen wins San Fermin Masters

by Johannes Fischer
7/12/2021 – Magnus Carlsen seems to be well prepared for the World Cup. Before this big knockout event thats starts today, 12 July, the World Champion travelled to Pamplona in Spain to play a two-day knockout 3+2 blitz online tournament from there - with some of the world's best players. Carlsen, Wesley So, Ding Liren and Levon Aronian were seeded for the quarter-finals were they faced four qualifiers. Carlsen first won against Eduardo Iturrizaga Bonelli, then scored a surprisingly clear win against So and then went on to defeat Aronian in the final.

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San Fermin Masters Final

The Spanish city of Pamplona is famous for its annual running of the bulls. The "Encierro" is part of the San Fermin Festival, which has been held in the city of Pamplona every year from 6 to 14 July since 1324. Due to the Corona crisis, the mayor of Pamplona, Enrique Maya, officially announced in April that the event could not take place this year. The infection rate in Spain is too high and the vaccination rate too low.

As a replacement, an online chess tournament was held last weekend. The idea came from artist-entrepreneur Mikel Urmenenta. Chess 24 and SEBA Bank AG supported the tournament.

The organisers managed to attract none other than Magnus Carlsen to the capital of Navarre. The World Champion spent the weekend in Pamplona and played the eight-player online blitz event from his luxurious hotel suite in which no other than American writer Ernest Hemingway stayed when he visited Pamplona.

The line-up of the tournament was strong: Wesley So, Ding Liren and Levon Aronian were invited and competed against four grandmasters who had earned the right to take part by winning qualifying matches. The four qualifiers were Eduarda Iturrizaga, Liem Quang Le, Jaime Santos and Nodirbek Abdussatorov. The quarter-finals were held on Saturday, while the semi-finals and final were played on Sunday.

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.

San Fermin Chess Masters 2021

Each match consisted of eight blitz games with a time-control of 3+2. In the event of a tie, another pair of 3+2 games was played. In the event of a further tie, an Armageddon game was to decide the match.

Carlsen was in good shape won all of his matches convincingly.



Ding vs Santos 4.5:1.5
Aronian vs Abdusattorov 6:5 (after an Armageddon game)
Carlsen-Iturrizaga 4.5:2.5
So vs Le 4.5:0.5


Carlsen vs So 4.5:1.5
Ding vs Aronian 3:5


Carlsen vs Aronian 5:3

Carlsen was named "Visitor of the Year" after his tournament win, "guiri" in Spanish, but pronounced like "Giri". 




Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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