Topalov takes Salamanca Centenary

by ChessBase
10/30/2018 – In a packed auditorium, the final rounds of the University of Salamanca eighth centennial chess festival were played on Saturday. The game that aroused the most excitement was between Veselin Topalov and Julio Granda. Topalov came out on top ahead of Anatoly Karpov, Ekaterina Atalik, Miguel Santos, Almira Skripchenko, Ana Matnadze and Monica Calzetta. | Photo: Official website

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University of Salamanca celebrates 800 years

By Milagros García Gajate (Associate Professor in Audiovisual Communication)

With an unyielding and steady hand, Veselin Topalov triumphed at the Salamanca Masters tournament. Julio Granda, who still had chances before his game against the Bulgarian, finished in third position, just below the promising talent Miguel Santos.

The seventh and final round determined the tournament standings. Calzetta lost against Karpov, after bravely enduring the boa constrictor style of the 12th World Champion for quite a while. Granda signed a draw with Ana Matnadze, who withstood the Peruvian's tactical prowess. Julio's mistake was to unnecessarily give up his queen:


Fearing an attack against his king with Black's light-squared bishop and queen, Granda sacrificed his queen with 29.Bxc6. It was not a losing blunder, as he got a strong initiative after 29...Nxa2 30.Bxa8 Nxa8 31.Rb1, but Ana played enterprisingly in the rest of the game until she got a chance to draw by perpetual check.  

The playing hall (Palacio de Figueroa) during round one | Photo: Leontxo García

Skripchenko, despite finding herself in a theoretically drawn position at one point, did not manage to take advantage of the situation and lost against an already relaxed Topalov. Meanwhile, on board four, the duel between Ekaterina Atalik and Miguel Santos was the last one to finish. The young Spaniard took the game to tactical grounds and showed his strength to close out the game with two dominating rooks in the opposing camp:


White had just given air to her king with 59.g4, but 59...Rg1 ended the game on the spot. Santos' result, ahead of Granda and Karpov, is an important milestone in his career.

Miguel Santos had a great performance — here, he drew Karpov with White | Photo: Leontxo García

Topalov's impressive 6½/7 included wins against all the participants except Santos. The Bulgarian opened with a clear win over Atalik, in which he used his central passed pawns mercilessly to get the full point:


Topalov offered the queen exchange, and Ekaterina found herself unable to reject it. Nonetheless, the game ended after 37...Qxd5 38.exd5 Rab7 39.c6 Rb2 40.c7:


Topalov was unstoppable in Salamanca | Photo: Leontxo García

Final standings

# Name Points TB1
1 Topalov Veselin 6,5 0,0
2 Santos Ruiz Miguel 5,0 0,0
3 Granda Zuniga Julio E 4,5 1,0
4 Karpov Anatoly 4,5 0,0
5 Matnadze Ana 3,0 1,0
6 Atalik Ekaterina 3,0 0,0
7 Skripchenko Almira 1,5 0,0
8 Calzetta Ruiz Monica 0,0 0,0

All games


The last day of the 8th Centenary Chess Festival began with a children's chess tournament, held at the Sagrada Familia school, where an interesting chess program is developed as a transversal subject. With a wide participation of boys and girls up to 16 years old, divided into four age categories, the tournament was an eight-round Swiss. The girls shone with outstanding performances, especially in the U-14 to U-16 category, where three girls finished on top...and two of them are sisters!

U-8 category U-10 category U-12 category U-14 to U-16 category
1 Sierra Pena Alberto 1 Sanchez Garcia Celia 1 Penarroya Perez Daniel 1 Rupérez Benito Paula
2 Arias Moreno Daniela 2 Prieto Martin Manuel 2 Somoza Blanco Iker 2 Sanchez Elena Lucia
3 Perdigón Moreno Álvaro 3 Álvarez Mateo Marcos 3 Sierra Pena Mario 3 Rupérez Benito Yaiza

The masters surely inspired the young participants | Photo: Official site

In the auditorium of the educational centre, Leontxo Garcia gave a conference titled "Chess: An educational tool". Based on a scientific study, he explained how chess helps improve cognitive and social skills in the context of the development of emotional intelligence — a group of schoolchildren who practised chess were compared with groups that practised soccer and basketball. In the second phase of the project, three groups were compared, except that this time they contrasted the use of educational chess and chess as a sport with a control group of kids that did neither of them. The results led to the conclusion that development was greater for those who were involved in educational chess, while those who practised chess as a sport experienced a larger improvement than those who did not have any contact with chess.

Leontxo García mentioned other investigations, all with significant results in favour of the practice of chess. He highlighted the program led by Adriana Salazar (from Colombia), who introduced chess in the educational curriculum and concluded that it is possible to improve eight out of the nine intelligence types presented by Gardner. It was a pleasant conference, where Leontxo, using multiple examples and challenges, demonstrated the usefulness of learning concepts related to the materials used in the official curriculum of primary education.

Organisers and players during the opening ceremony | Photo: Official site

When the Masters Tournament concluded — the final day took place in the magnificent auditorium of the University of Salamanca — seven masters received plaques, while the winner, Veselin Topalov, was given a special award. At the closing ceremony, the director of the Centenary Chess Festival, Amador González de la Nava, thanked the teachers, fans and general public that attended the meeting. City Councilman Fernando Castaño highlighted the great reception given to the tournament. Finally, Enrique Cabero, Vice Chancellor of Academic Policy and Social Participation, congratulated those responsible for the magnificent organisation. He recalled Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, whom he imagined excited with the presence of high-level chess games in the auditorium of his University. The speech given transmitted an intention of giving continuity to the chess festival.

Tournament Rules

  • Dates: 23-27 October, 2018.
  • Locations
    • Rounds 1-4: Casino de Salamanca – Palacio de Figueroa, c/ Concejo #9
    • Rounds 5-7: Edificio Histórico de la Universidad, Patio de Escuelas
  • System of play: Single round robin, with a time control of 40' + 5" increment per move. The drawing of lots took place at the opening ceremony. The tournament is valid for Rapid FIDE ratings.
  • Tiebreak criteria: Direct result, greater number of wins, Sonnenborg-Berger, Koya and by draw.


The participants, in clockwise order: Karpov, Skripchenko, Topalov, Atalik, Santos, Calzetta, Granda and Matnadze | Photos: Official site 

Side events

  • Amateur tournament
  • Children's tournament
  • Simultaneous exhibitions
  • Conferences: Lucena's book, Chess as a driving force for gender equality, Chess as a therapeutic tool, and Chess as an educational tool
  • Live commentary by GM Alfonso Romero Holmes and journalist Leontxo García

It is always a privilege to face a World Champion! | Photo: Official site

Translation from Spanish and additional reporting  by Antonio Pereira

Correction November 1: An earlier version of this article referred in the festival as the "seventh centennial". It's actually the eighth or 800 years.


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