23rd City of Leon Chess Masters

Aronian, Gelfand, Leinier and Vallejo will give the show at the Auditorium

leon 2010

By Leontxo Garcia (Press Officer)

Very few top tournaments have been played for 23
years in a row, like the City of Leon (Spain),
where chess has strong social roots that not even
the financial crisis has broken.

Four stars: Levon
Aronian (Armenia, 1982), Boris Gelfand (Israel,
1968), Leinier Dominguez (Cuba, 1983) and Paco
Vallejo (Spain, 1982), will give a vibrant show,
again at the magnificent Auditorium with live TV
coverage (June, 3-7).

Garry Kasparov said in 1998: “Leon is a symbol
of the chess avant-garde”. The central strand of
this tournament has always been the innovation, in
order to make it attractive to the general public:
electronic boards, live Internet broadcast
( with high quality
commentators (seven times Spanish champion GM
Miguel Illescas and IM Michael Rahal) and
earphones for the public.

The two main novelties
in 2009 were a big success, and therefore will be
repeated in 2010: the excellent Auditorium will be
the venue, and the Castilla and Leon TV has
scheduled a special coverage, including live
broadcasting of some games.

Such an elegant stage requires great actors,
as the four already engaged for 2010. Aronian,
current Grand Slam champion, is one of the Big
Five beyond any doubt due to a very universal
style, pretty uncomfortable for his opponents, and comes from a country where chess is as popular as

Gelfand, current World Cup champion, has
demonstrated that, in top chess, being older than
40 doesn’t necessarily imply being on the decline,
if you combine outstanding talent with huge

Over the last two years, Leinier Dominguez has made clear he’s ready to stay at the
top of chess for a long time, thanks to his
excellent preparation, professionalism and cold

Paco Vallejo

Paco Vallejo

In 2009, Vallejo went over the 2.700 Elo
points important mark, and his bravery and
creativity at the recent Linares tournament, where
he was praised by all his opponents, indicate his
ceiling is still far away.

The tournament rules, written by the renowned
arbiter Joaquin Espejo, state the two strongest
players (Aronian and Gelfand) can only meet in the
final. Their respective opponents will be known
after the drawing of lots, scheduled for June 3rd
(Thursday) at the Conde Luna hotel. Four games
will be played in every match, with 20 minutes per
player plus 10 additional seconds after each move.
Tie-breaks will be immediately solved by five
minute games.

The Leon organizers, whose director is
Marcelino Sion, maintain that social and
professional chess should function like
communicating doors. Even more now, when the
latest scientific studies indicate that the
frequent practice of chess improves the brain
aging, and therefore could be very useful to
prevent Alzheimer’s disease, apart from what we
already know since almost a century ago: chess
teaches how to think.

The parallel activities are
consistent with that idea: simuls by Aronian, a
lecture class by Illescas, another lecture on
“Chess as a social tool” by the journalist Leontxo
Garcia, a chess cinema week and a Young Talents

Despite the big economic crisis,
everything will be sponsored by a balanced
combination of public bodies and private
companies: a clear sign of how solid this
tournament is.

Further information

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