Terrific chess in Tenerife

by Melik Kramer
9/24/2018 – The name of the tournament sounds like music. On Tenerife, the "1st Torneo Internacional de Ajedrez San Cristobal de la Laguna" was held, fittingly in an old convent. The guests met a chess-loving population, young and old. Venezuelan IM Daniel Pulvett emerged the winner a half point ahead of Grandmasters Ilja Zaragatzki and José ("Pepe") Cuenco Jiminez and FM Makan Rafiee who tied for second place. | Photos: Melik Kramer

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International Open from La Laguna

Daniel Pulvett

From August, 31st, to September, 7th, Tenerife hosted the 1st International Open of La Laguna. 26-year-old IM Daniel Eduardo Pulvett Marin from Venezuela (pictured) won deservedly. He scored 7½ points out of 9 games and ended up half a point ahead of his pursuers. Three players scored 7 points. GM Ilja Zaragatski from Germany had the better tiebreak ahead of GM Jose Fernando Cuenca Jimenez from Spain and FM Makan Rafiee from Munich.

Of course, I would have been happy for any winner. But I had secretly kept my fingers crossed especially for the young Venezuelan. After our game in the third round, he told me that he will not return to his homeland after the tournament because of the catastrophic political situation. A professional chess player does not sleep on a bed of roses you know. Unfortunately suffering from an eye disease since age 12 made his situation in Venezuela even worse.

His crucial game from the last round which was decisive for winning the tournament is worth watching.


It was very nice to see what the organizers around Juan Luis Marin and Domingo Jesus de La Rosa Diaz got going in their first tournament. The ambiance was absolutely impressive.

Convent Santa Domingo

The tournament was held in the Convent of Santa Domingo, a Dominican nunnery dating back to 1527. As a special treat, the organizers offered a historical city tour in La Laguna and a simul by "Pepe" Cuenca on 24 boards.

The courtyard of the convent

What I liked best about the 114 participants was the absolute chess craziness of the children and adolescents in particular. During the games, they dogged and fought with respect, and then they joked again. And the playing strength of the children increases steadily due to targeted support. I experienced this myself in round 7 when 12-year-old Killian Diaz Reyes (Elo 1762) drove me to my best combination of the tournament.


There are more than 370 players in the chess clubs of Tenerife. This is a considerable number for a small island in the Atlantic. And every team competition is partly attended by whole families and sometimes even with a dog. Unfortunately, I have never experienced such enthusiasm in Germany in more than 20 years of club chess. 

Sure, an open must attract attention with strong players. And it is also a welcome change for the Islanders to face players with a high rating. But in the truest sense of the word, hiring a grandmaster at any cost is, in my view, the wrong way! The path now taken is much more effective. A dedicated field of participants (27 players had an Elo of 2000+) flavoured with a few stronger and especially sympathetic title holders. Even the grandmasters present were willing to analyse with their opponents for a long time after the games.

Tenerife also offers an ideal combination of holiday and chess at this time of the year. Especially for hobby players, it's ideal to explore the island during the day and play a game of chess in the evening. And you may travel with your family and spend a nice holiday together. Just like my friend FM Uli Zenker from Grafing did it. I think it will not be his last participation.

Boy in agony

Oh no...! Is there still a rescue?

Zaragatski and Cuenca

Ilja Zaragatzki and José ("Pepe") Cuenco Jiminez were tied for second.

We have often heard that the king can become the strongest piece in the endgame. However, FM Makan Rafiee impressively proved that he can be centralised on a board with lots of pieces as early as in move 9 and by doing so he defeated an experienced grandmaster in a little more than 20 moves. 

Makan Rafie

FM Makan Rafiee


And finally, there is an unusual position with three white Queens on the board. You'll realize that only the last mistake loses the game.


Final standings (top 10)

Rk. Name Pts.
1 Pulvett Marin Daniel Eduardo 7,5
2 Zaragatski Ilja 7,0
3 Cuenca Jimenez Jose Fernando 7,0
4 Rafiee Makan 7,0
5 Kurajica Bojan 6,5
6 Movsziszian Karen 6,5
7 Alvarado Diaz Alejandro 6,5
8 Kosov Alexey 6,5
9 Villavicencio Martinez Adalbert 6,5
10 Castro Acosta Andres 6,5

All Games


Translation from German by S. O. Platz


Melik Kramer has been playing chess since he was 12 years old. He has lived on Tenerife since 2017 where he is a member of Club Ebano Casa Venezuela in the first league.


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