XXII Ciudad de León Masters: Ivanchuk beats Morozevich

by ChessBase
6/5/2009 – This four-player rapid chess knockout event is under way in the city of León, Spain. The tournament began with Vassily Ivanchuk playing Alexander Morozevich. The Ukrainian won the first game and drew the remaining three to advance to the final on Sunday. On Saturday Magnus Carlsen plays top Chinese GM Wang Yue. Playchess is broadcasting all games live. Illustrated day one report.

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XXII Ciudad de León Masters

June 4th to 8th Friday to Sunday in León, Spain

The participants of the XXII Ciudad de Leon Masters Chess Tournament, one of the most prestigious classics in the international chess calendar, are Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) defending champion (Leon 2008 winner); Magnus Carlsen, (Norway), at the age of 18 the world number three ranked player; Alexander Morozevich (Russia), currently number eight in the world; and the new sensation, Wang Yue (China), 21 years old, number 14 in the current rankings and the all-time strongest Asian grandmaster after Vishy Anand.

One of the most attractive points of the tournament is the broadcasting network, which allows the spectators to “see” the thinking process of the players: giant electronic boards, infrared headphones for the public, two specialised grandmasters commenting (Miguel Illescas and Michael Rahal), both helped by strong chess programmes – all of this transforms the chess into a vivid and fast-paced spectacle.

The time controls are 20 minutes per player for the whole game, plus ten seconds increment after each move. Each match is played to the best of four games, and tie-breaks, if required, are five minute blitz games, to be played immediately after the regular games.

The venue is also quite special this year: the Auditorium of the Concert Hall. And there will be extensive TV coverage, judging from past experience. In 1999 there were 43 minutes of TV coverage; in 2000 it was 143 minutes (no other Spanish chess tournament had such a big TV impact during the period 1999-2006); in 2001 it was 250 minutes; since 2002 until 2004 TV coverage has remained at around 250 minutes, with the figures moderately increasing from 2005 until 2008.

The Internet coverage is also significant, with more than 20,000 unique viewers daily during the 2007 and 2008 editions, following the games live through the Diario de Leon website. The games will also be broadcast live on Playchess.

Press conference

The four players at the press conference: Alexander Morozevich, Vassily Ivanchuk, Magnus Carlsen and Wang Yue

Vassily Ivanchuk, who was paired to play against Morozevich in the first semifinal round on Friday, said: “I think it will be an interesting match between two very creative players. My crisis is now over, after my good play last week against Navara”. On how he learned Spanish: “A bit of everything: books, tapes, TV programmes, my second and Mexican friend Manuel Leon Hoyos and, of course, the Mexican girls, who helped me a lot.”

Alexander Morozevichsaid: "Rapid chess should have a separate ranking, and the same applies to blitz and blindfold. I also think team championships games should not count for the Elo rating.” The other three participants agreed with him on this point.

Magnus Carlsen: “I don’t have a clear opinion on chess and doping. But I do think something must be urgently done to avoid the help of computers during the games!”

Wang Yue on his good results: “I knew all my opponents well, because I had study their games carefully. But, as I was new on the top, they knew much less about me.”

Posing for the press after the conference

Joaquín Espejo, the arbiter of the tournament

Leontxo Garcia, press chief in León

Pictures from the press conference by Nadja Woisin

Day one – Ivanchuk vs Morozevich

The Director General of Sports of the Government of Castilla y Leon, Miguel Ignacio González, ceremonially executes the first move of the first game Ivanchuk vs Morozevich. In the background the main organizer Marcelino Zion.

The first day of the XXII Ciudad de Leon Masters 2009 with Ivanchuk vs Morozevich

Giant projection screens in the theatre for the enjoyment of the spectators

The screens show the game moves, video images and GM analysis (bottom right)

Pictures from day one by Leontxo Garcia

Results of day one

 Vassily Ivanchuk
 Alexander Morozevich 


  • June 4th (Thursday): Player’s arrival, 20.00h drawing of lots at the Conde Luna hotel.
  • June 5th (Friday): 16.30 h first semi-final at the Leon Auditorium.
  • June 6th (Saturday): 16.30h second semi-final at the Leon Auditorium.
  • June 7th (Sunday): 16.30h final at the Leon Auditorium
  • 8th (Monday): 14.30h closing ceremony and prize giving; 17.30h simultaneous exhibition at the University Hall.


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse the PGN games.



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