Santos beats Gelfand in final and wins Leon Magistral

by Press release
7/10/2023 – European Rapid Chess Champion Jaime Santos Latasa won the final against Boris Gelfand to become the winner of the 36th edition of the "Magistral de Ajedrez Ciudad de León". Santos, is the second Spaniard to win the tournament after Paco Vallejo in 2012.

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The prophet in his own land

For Santos, who has grown as a professional in the heat of the tournament in his city, a dream has come true. He is the second Spaniard to win the title after Paco Vallejo in 2012. It will undoubtedly be a boost to his morale and confidence ahead of the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, in two weeks' time.

Speaking alongside a jubilant Jaime Santos, his coach Marcelino Sión stressed that the title was the culmination of a long career and years of hard work.

We started training when Jaime was a child, when he was nine years old, and to see him win in his home town today is something very symbolic for him. To win here and against world-class players is something to be very happy about. It's a memorable moment that will hopefully give him more experience and confidence as he continues his career.

Jaime Santos, Marcelino Sión

Jaime Santos and Marcelino Sión

The finalists, Gelfand, winner of the last two editions of the tournament, and Santos, had already met in the semi-finals of the XXXIV Magistrale in 2021. On that occasion Gelfand narrowly won 2½ to 1½ after defeating the Santos in the fourth and final game of the match.

Jaime Santos, Boris Gelfand

Jaime Santos defeated reigning champion Boris Gelfand in the final

Parallel to the final around a hundred amateur and professional players, who were attracted by the good prize fund, were taking part in the third edition of the Blitz Chess Tournament.

The victory of FIDE Master Cristian Aranda was a surprise, as he was not one of the favourites. Ibragim Khamrakulov and Luis Javier Bernal Moro shared second and third place.

Festival de Ajedrez de León 2023

The blitz tournament

IM Sergio Estremera sums up the games

Game 1

The first game of the great final of the XXXVI. Torneo Magistral Ciudad de León ended in a draw. In a Rossolimo Sicilian Jaime Santos followed an idea that Magnus Carlsen had used to defeat Gelfand in the Candidates Tournament 2013, but Gelfand was well prepared and with a subtle defensive maneuver he neutralised White's pressure and the game ended with a repetition.

Game 2

The second game was also more or less even for most of the time. It turned out to be a technical battle in the Catalan, a speciality of Gelfand's that Santos had studied carefully in preparation for this final.

Gelfand tried to gain an advantage through positional play, but Santos was able to counter his opponent's every attempt to win. The second draw added to the excitement of this final.

Game 3

Santos took the lead. The third game saw a spectacular give-and-take in a Sicilian with opposite castling, which is typical for the Dragon. Santos was well prepared, which forced his opponent to spend a lot of time. This turned out to be decisive as Santos in the end had much more time on the clock to find the most precise moves.

Game 4

Gelfand had to win the last game to force a tiebreak. In this situation Gelfand again put his faith in the Cataln, but Santos managed to equalize easily. Gelfand started a desparate but dangerous attack, but Santos defended well and in a better position he forced a draw, which was enough for him to win the Magistral de León Tournament for the first time.



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