Carlsen playing online from Pamplona

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
7/10/2021 – While Garry Kasparov plays over-the-board blitz chess in Zagreb, Magnus Carlsen is in Pamplona promoting chess and playing a two-day knockout tournament. The rest of the participants are playing online. Besides the world champion, Wesley So, Ding Liren and Levon Aronian were seeded directly into the quarterfinals, where they face four winners of previous qualifying tournaments. Each match consists of 8 blitz games, played on the chess24 platform.

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San Fermin Masters Final

Pamplona is known worldwide for its Running of the Bulls yearly event. The encierro is the highest-profile event of the San Fermin Festival. Due to the sanitary crisis, the mayor of Pamplona, Enrique Maya, officially announced in April that the event would not be held this year, noting that “the rate of infections remains high, while the rate of vaccinations is not as fast as they had hoped”.

Luckily for chess fans, Pamplona’s City Council, aided by artist-entrepeneur Mikel Urmenenta and chess24, and sponsored by SEBA Bank AG, decided to host a chess event instead.

The local authorities managed to attract none other than Magnus Carlsen to make his way to the capital city of Navarra. The world champion is set to take part in an 8-player online knockout tournament throughout the weekend.

Carlsen is joined by Wesley So, Ding Liren and Levon Aronian as the invited players who will face four grandmasters that gained the right to participate by winning qualifying tournaments. The quarterfinals are taking place on Saturday, while the semifinals and final will be played on Sunday. The full schedule (all CEST):

  • Quarterfinals (July 10)
    • 16:00: Ding vs. Santos (Ding beat Santos 4½-1½)
    • 18:00: Aronian vs. Abdusattorov
    • 20:30: Carlsen vs. Iturrizaga
    • 22:00: So vs. Le
  • Semifinals: July 11 at 14:00 and 16:00
  • Final: July 11 at 19:00

Each match consists of eight 3+2 blitz games. If the players are tied, another pair of 3+2 games is played. If still tied, the match will be decided in an Armageddon game, where White has 5 minutes to Black’s 4, but a draw counts as a win for Black.

San Fermin Chess Masters 2021

Click to enlarge

Carlsen was named the ‘Foreigner of the Year’ in Pamplona — guiri, not Giri, although it’s pronounced exactly the same way!

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.


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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