Spanish Championship, Round 8: Shirov wins top encounter

by André Schulz
9/8/2020 – In round eight of the Spanish Championship the two leaders, Ivan Salgado and Alexei Shirov, played against each other. Shirov won and is now sole first with 7.0/8 and with one round to go he has good chances to become Spanish Champion 2020. | Photos: Patricia Claros/ Feda

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Spanish Championship 2020 in Linares

For chess players, the Hotel Anibal in Linares is holy ground: from 1988 to 2010 (though not in 1996) the famous Grandmaster Tournaments in Linares were played at this venue. The driving force behind these top tournaments was the businessman Luis Rentero, a fanatic chess enthusiast and  owner of the Hotel Anibal, who year after year invited the world's best players to come to Linares.

The winners in Linares

Garry Kasparov was a regular guest and eight times he was first or shared first though he did not always win. Kasparov also played his last tournament in Linares: after the tournament in 2005 he declared his retirement from professional chess.

After a car accident at the end of the 1990s Luis Rentero, who died in 2015, retired from organizing the tournament, but it is nice to see that the chess tradition in Linares still continues and that Linares now hosts the Spanish Championship.

The tournament venue

In the top encounter of the eighth of nine rounds of the Spanish Championship the two leaders, Ivan Salgado and Alexei Shirov, faced each other. After seven rounds both had 6.0/7 and shared the lead.

For his game against Daniil Dvirnyy in the FIDE Online Olympiad Shirov recently won the Gazprom brilliancy prize but in his game against Salgado he showed that he is not only a great tactician but also a great endgame player.


Material is even but White has the better structure.

34.Re4 The best position for the rook who here has an eye on all the weak pawns of Black. 34...Rd8 35.Bf2 Rd1+ 36.Kh2 Rd2 37.Bg3 Rd5 37...Bc6!? looks more active: 38.Bxe5+ (38.Rxc4? Bxf3) 38...Kf5 39.Rd4 Rxd4 (39...Rxb2 40.Bxc7 Rxa2 41.Rxc4 Bd5 42.Rd4 Ke6 43.Kg3 Rc2 44.Ba5) 40.Bxd4 g6 and the opposite coloured bishops give Black some hopes to draw.

38.a4 Bxa4 38...Bd7!? 39.Rxc4 c5 39.Rxc4 Bd1 40.Rc6+ Rd6 41.Rc5 Re6 Black's rook is now very passive. 42.Rxc7 a5 43.c4 The passed pawn gets going.

43...e4 44.fxe4 Rxe4 45.Bf2 g5 46.c5 Re6? Losing a tempo and robbing Black's king of an important square. After 46...Bc2 47.c6 Rc4 Black can still fight.

47.c6 Re2? 47...Ba4 48.Bd4+ Kg6 49.Rg7+ Kf5 (49...Kh5 50.g4+ Kh4 51.Bf2#) 50.Rf7+ Kg6 51.c7 Rc6 52.Rf6+ nice!; 47...Be2 48.Bd4+ Kf5 49.Rf7+ Ke4 50.c7 Ba6 51.Bc3 a4 52.Rd7 Rc6 53.Rd4+ Kf5 54.Rxa4 Bc8 55.Ba5 White still has some work to do.

48.Rc8! Ke6 48...Rxf2 49.Rf8+ 49.Rd8 1–0

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer






André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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