Salamanca Chess Festival with Topalov, Shirov and Antón

by Alfonso Romero Holmes
2/2/2021 – The Salamanca Chess Festival will be held on 2-6 February at the Colegio Mayor de Fonseca, a historical edifice founded over five centuries ago, in 1519. The main event will be an 8-player single round robin rapid tournament including an equal number of male and female representatives — Veselin Topalov, David Antón, Alexei Shirov, Eduardo Iturrizaga, Elisabeth Paehtz, Almira Skripchenko, Nurgyul Salimova and Sabrina Vega. | Pictured: Leontxo García giving a lecture in Salamanca (2019)

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A breath of fresh air

Salamanca ChessThe organizers of the Salamanca Chess Festival stuck to their guns and decided to green-light the third edition of the festival despite the corona-related difficulties. Moreover, despite the obstacles, compared to the two previous editions, we will get to see a stronger field of players.

The event will be held on February 3-6, with two-game sessions per day — except on Friday, when a single round will take place. The action kicks off at 16.00 CET.

As a collaborator of chief organizer Amador Gonzalez de la Nava, I’ve witnessed how difficult it has been to put together this edition of the festival. We cannot but thank the major support received from our sponsors, the Salamanca City Council — headed by Fernando Castaño —, the Junta of Castile and León, and the University of Salamanca. I must stress, however, that without Amador’s tenacity and commitment this would not have been possible.

The 8-player lineup includes an equal number of men and women. Among the men, Alexei Shirov and Veselin Topalov, two ‘Salmantinos’ known for playing enterprising chess when given the chance, will be joined by David Antón, who arrived in Salamanca from Wijk aan Zee, and defending champion Eduardo Iturrizaga, who now represents Spain. 

The female contingent will include 5-time Spanish women’s champion Sabrina Vega; German star Elisabeth Paethz, a U-18 and U-20 women’s world champion; former European women’s champion Almira Skripchenko from France; and Bulgarian rising star Nurgyul Salimova, who won the U-14 Women’s World Championship in 2015.

We must thank all the participants for having made their way to Salamanca during these trying times. The players, speakers (five lectures and two round tables are part of the program) and journalists will all stay at the Fonseca historical edifice in Salamanca, which will serve as a protecting bubble against the virus.

Salamanca Chess

The 2019 edition

Elisabeth Paethz commented:

At last, we will get to enjoy a breath of normality chess-wise. I am very happy to finally be able to play an over-the-board tournament.

Fans can follow all the action, including the lectures and rounds tables, at the official website.

Sabrina Vega, Leontxo García, Luis Sánchez, Alberto Hortigüela and Jorge González will give lectures from Tuesday to Saturday. The round tables, to be held on Friday and Saturday, will deal with chess at the University of Salamanca and the royal game as something much bigger than only a sport.

I will be joined in the commentary booth, which will be broadcast online, by IM Javier Sanz and Leontxo García.

Translation from Spanish: Carlos Colodro


Alfonso Romero Holmes was born in Barcelona on 28 May 1965. He is a grandmaster, journalist and editor at Chessy Publishing House.


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