Jaime Santos dominates Salamanca Masters

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
12/20/2021 – The fifth edition of the Salamanca Chess Festival took place on December 14-18 at the Colegio Arzobispo Fonseca, a historical edifice built in 1519. The main event was an 8-player single round-robin rapid tournament which had living legends Veselin Topalov and Alexei Shirov as the top seeds. In the end, however, it was Jaime Santos who came out on top, as he scored 6/7 points to finish a full point clear of second-placed Romain Edouard. | Photos: Official website

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Chess, culture and gender equality

Ten months after the fourth edition took place in the same impressive venue, the organizers put forth yet another festival, focused not only in chess as a competitive sport but also in the royal game’s cultural richness. The cultural programme included conferences, lectures and films with topics ranging from literature to economics and law.

Following the trend of previous editions, the event also focused on gender equality, with María Rodrigo giving a conference titled “The current situation of women in chess, a mixed sport that promotes gender equality”. Moreover, once again the main event — an 8-player rapid chess tournament — had an equal number of male and female participants.

Two friends of the festival returned to Salamanca, as Veselin Topalov and Alexei Shirov played in both editions of the tournament that took place in 2021. Shirov, who won the event in February, got third place this time around, while Topalov scored a half point less than in his previous outing, getting a 3/7 score that left him in shared fourth place.

What Shirov and Topalov had in common in this edition, though, is that both of them lost to tournament leader Jaime Santos. The 25-year-old led the tournament from start to finish, going into the final round a full point ahead of second-placed Romain Edouard. Santos, in fact, got winning chances in that game, but a draw ended up being enough to claim clear first place with a remarkable 6/7 score.

Among the women, Georgian-born IM Ana Matnadze was the highest scorer. Matnadze finished the tournament with a victory over Topalov while marshalling the black pieces!

Salamanca Masters Chess 2021

The players — Pia Cramling, Jaime Santos, Alexei Shirov, Ana Matnadze, Veselin Topalov, Sabrina Vega, Romain Edouard, Lela Javakhishvili

Santos wins 5 out of 7

A frequent participant at the León Masters, Santos is no stranger to facing top-notch opposition in rapid tournaments. The fourth highest-rated player in Spain (behind Shirov, Vallejo and Antón) finished with an undefeated 6/7 score after signing draws only against Matnadze and Edouard.

The eventual champion played fearlessly throughout, beating Shirov with black in their crucial round-6 encounter after castling queenside in a double-edged middlegame.


12...0-0-0 was the best move in the position, and one that might be easier to make while facing a player less well-known for their tactical prowess as Shirov. Once the position opened up a bit, Black found himself in the driver’s seat. 


20.Ne4 was a mistake by the man from Riga, as it allowed the forcing sequence 20...Nxe4 21.dxe4 Rxf1 22.Rxf1 Qa6


The queen attacks the rook on f1 and the a2-pawn. After 23.Rf3 Qxa2+ 24.Kc1 Rc8+, Santos got to simplify into a winning knight versus bishop endgame a pawn to the good. Black converted his advantage into a 41-move victory.

Salamanca Masters Chess 2021

The beautiful playing hall

Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Santos Latasa Jaime 6,0 0,0
2 Edouard Romain 5,0 0,0
3 Shirov Alexei 3,5 0,0
4 Matnadze Ana 3,0 1,0
5 Topalov Veselin 3,0 0,0
6 Javakhishvili Lela 2,5 1,5
7 Vega Gutierrez Sabrina 2,5 1,0
8 Cramling Pia 2,5 0,5

All games



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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