Vallejo first finalist in Leon

by Alejandro Ramirez
6/7/2014 – The XXVII Master's City of Leon has commenced. The tournament features four players in a unique weekend event. A knock-out system is being used and the games are being played on a rapid time control. Hou Yifan faced Vallejo in the first semi-final and the Spanish player emerged victorious with the narrow margin of 2.5-1.5 He awaits thte results of Wei Yi vs. Salgado.

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The XXVII Master's City of Leon has commenced. The tournament features only four players in a unique weekend tournament. A knock-out system is being used and the games are being played on a rapid time control.

The players are two Spaniards and two Chinese. From left to right: Salgado, Vallejo Pons, Hou Yifan, Wei Yi.

The first semi-final was between current Women's World Champion Hou Yifan and the strongest Spanish player, Francisco "Paco" Vallejo Pons, who will lead the Spanish team in the Tromso Olympiad.

A big stage and beautiful displays are in position for the duels

The format is four games of 25+10, with additional games played if a tie-break is needed. The first match was very tense with many interesting moments.

Game one was definitely the least eventful. Hou Yifan had the white pieces and she was unable to get anything concrete in a Berlin defense, and the game ended in a draw.

The World Champion was satisfied with her openings with White,
but with Black is was a little bit of a disaster

Vallejo was the first one to strike and he did so in game two. A well played Maroczy bind left him with a clear advantage and in a swift tactical stroke he emerged up the exchange and he converted without any problems. Vallejo had good chances to seal off the match in game three:

[Event "XXVII Magistral Ciudad de Leó"] [Site "XXVII Magistral Ciudad de LeÃ"] [Date "2014.06.06"] [Round "1.3"] [White "Yifan Hou"] [Black "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C65"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rr5k/3n1pp1/3p3p/Pq6/3pPpQ1/3P3P/3B2PK/R2R4 w - - 0 27"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [SourceDate "2014.01.04"] {Some creative play by Hou Yifan has landed the players in a strange position. White has a passed pawn on a5 and some pressure on the kingside, but Black will have a beautiful knight on e5 and has some pressure on d3. The game is about even.} 27. Rab1 $2 {Definitely missing Black's reply.} Ne5 $1 {An important intermezzo! Now Black's knight will not be hanging on d7.} 28. Qxf4 $6 Qxd3 $6 (28... Qxb1 $1 29. Rxb1 Rxb1 $17 {here the queen is powerless to do much by itself, while the rooks and the powerful knight will cost White further material.}) 29. Bb4 $1 {An important resource. Without this White is certainly lost.} Qe3 30. Qxe3 dxe3 31. Bxd6 Rxb1 32. Rxb1 {The smoke has cleared somewhat. Black's pawn on e3 is doomed but so is the pawn on a5.} Nd3 $4 {Completely underestimating White's chances!} (32... Nc6 33. Bc7 e2 34. Re1 $11) (32... Rxa5 33. Bc7 Rc5 34. Bd6 Ra5 $11 {is already a perpetual.}) 33. Rb8+ $1 {A surprisingly strong move. Black's pawn on a5 is very powerful.} Rxb8 34. Bxb8 e2 35. Bg3 $1 $18 {The point. The knight can only help the pawn promote or catch the a-pawn, but not both.} Nc5 36. e5 Kg8 37. Kg1 Kf8 38. Kf2 Ne4+ 39. Kxe2 $1 Ke7 (39... Nxg3+ 40. Kd3 {and the Knight still cannot get back.} Nh5 41. g3 $1 $18) 40. a6 Nc3+ 41. Kd3 Nd5 42. a7 Nb6 43. Kd4 Kd7 44. Kc5 Na8 45. Kb5 h5 46. h4 g6 47. e6+ Kxe6 48. Kc6 f6 49. Kb7 Kd7 50. Kxa8 Kc8 51. Bf4 {A crazy turn of events.} 1-0

Vallejo has recently taken up the Taoist philosophy, and this he claimed helps
him focus after a tough loss. It certainly worked in this match!

[Event "XXVII Magistral Ciudad de Leó"] [Site "XXVII Magistral Ciudad de Leó"] [Date "2014.06.06"] [Round "1.4"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Yifan Hou"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A30"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. Nf3 e6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 c5 5. O-O Nf6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Re1 d6 8. e4 Qc8 $6 {This move is almost incomprehensible. The queen almost always goes to c7.} 9. d4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 a6 11. Nd5 $1 {Maybe this sacrifice doesn't fully work, but it is very hard to refute over the board. It fully exploits Black's queen being on such an awkward square.} exd5 12. exd5 {Black would like to just 0-0, but his bishop is undefended.} Ra7 $2 (12... Qd7 {was forced but White already has compensation.} 13. g4 $5) 13. Bf4 $1 {Black is, surprisingly, already lost.} Kf8 14. Qd3 {Good enough.} (14. Rxe7 $1 $18 {Was even stronger, but this seems very Computer like.}) 14... Nh5 15. Qe2 $1 {An important detail. } Bxd5 16. Qxh5 $1 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 h6 {Material is now equal and the initiative rages on. The rest of the game is a mop up.} 18. Qd5 Kg8 19. Nf5 Nc6 20. Re3 Kh7 21. Nxh6 Rf8 22. Nxf7 Nb4 23. Qe4+ g6 24. Nxd6 Qd7 25. Rd1 Bf6 26. h4 Qf7 27. Nxf7 1-0

With this result Vallejo moves on to the finals of the tournament, and awaits the result between Wei Yi and Salgado.

Salgado and Wei Yi play today. Catch the action in the official website or on

Leontxo Garcia is leading the live commentary on the official website and always
has interesting guests coming into the show (in Spanish).

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Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez has been playing tournament chess since 1998. His accomplishments include qualifying for the 2004 and 2013 World Cups as well as playing for Costa Rica in the 2002, 2004 and 2008 Olympiads. He currently has a rating of 2583 and is author of a number of popular and critically acclaimed ChessBase-DVDs.


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