Spanish Blitz in the streets

by Leontxo García
8/25/2014 – In the small, and picturesque village of Sabiote, Spain, the 2014 Spanish Blitz Championship was held... in the streets. Indeed, with a small population of 4300 inhabitants, counting on spectators to come and see the chess made little sense, so instead the organizers brought the chess to the people, and it was a great success. Rising star David Anton Guijarra took first. An illustrated report.

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Sabiote, a Spanish medieval village of 4300 inhabitants, fulfilled a dream last night in hosting the inaugural Spanish Blitz Championship (three minutes + two seconds), played in the street, in a very special atmosphere. David Anton, 19, won after a flawless victory in the last round with black against Ljubomir Ljubojevic, aged 63.

The players line up to register in the Spanish Blitz Championship

In a unique atmosphere the entire event took place in the streets

"For a town like Sabiote, this has been very special. A year ago this seemed just a dream, but today, on this street, almost all the best Spanish chess players are here. Chess is now important to us. Now we must also strengthen its great educational value", the mayor Luis Miguel López Barrero explained, impressed to see many of his villages's inhabitants in complete silence on a Friday night, watching the players in action.

It proceeded well into the evening

If you can't bring the people to the chess, then bring the chess to the people

All the balconies on San Ginés street were decked with banners of different colors, on which chess pieces were painted. He has always talked about the need to bring chess to the streets, closer to citizens. It has been done several times in the Bilbao Final Masters, with great success and the same happened in Sabiote. This was helped by the excellent organization work of the referees, Carles Martínez Otero and Naomi, who managed to keep pace with three rounds per hour without fail.

Anton was the top seed due to a higher Blitz Elo than Vallejo, and soon showed he was in fine form with an impressive miniature against someone who may play on the national team in a few years, the  Galician Julio Suarez, fifteen, Spain's Under 18 champion.

'Paco' Vallejo may have the highest standard rating in Spain...

... but David Anton Guijarro has a higher FIDE Blitz rating

Olga Alexandrova is Spain's top-rated female

The legendary Ljubomir Ljubojevic could not vie for the title and came for a fun blitz tournament

Also, aside from Ljubojević, another veteran grandmaster was on a roll and gave very serious trouble. Roberto Cifuentes, 56, defeated Anton in a flawless display of skill. Ljubojević became the great attraction of the night, not only for his creative play and fighting ability, but also for the tremendous tantrum he had after losing a winning position winning against Daniel Forcén.  

Vallejo gave out autographs to his young fans

Leontxo Garcia was both the chief press officer and master of ceremony

Ljubojević reached the final round tied with Anton for the lead, and much was expected of the duel between the two. The Serb was playing the tournament out of sport since not having Spanish nationality meant he could not compete for the title. The opening went badly from the getgo, and Anton, known for his strong nerves, was relentless until he was proclaimed Champion of Spain, followed by Angel Arribas who beat Vallejo in the last round, David Lariño, Ljuboejevic, and Josep Manuel López. The best youth was Miguel Santos, fifteen years old, and the best female was Ana Matnadze, just eight days after winning the individual silver medal at the Olympics in Norway.

Fifteen-year-old Miguel Santos won the best youth prize

Ana Matnadze, following up on her success at the Olympiad, was the best female

David Anton Guijarra lived up to his rating and won the tournament becoming Spanish Champion

Nevertheless, the real winner was chess, conquering the streets of a beautiful medieval village.

Leontxo García is a renown Spanish sports and chess journalist.


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