Reports | August 29, 2011 22:51

Sadler wins 10-round Swiss in Barcelona

Sadler continues comeback with victory in BarcelonaFormer British Champion and Olympiad gold medalist Matthew Sadler won the 13th Sants Open in Barcelona on Sunday with a score of 8.5/10. Playing his first long Swiss event in more than a decade, the English grandmaster defeated top seed Jan Smeets in the final round to finish half a point ahead of Eduardo Iturrizaga, Aramis Alvarez Pedraza, Marc Narciso Dublan and Hector Delgado Ramos.

Last year we reported on Sadler's victory in his first classical chess tournament since 1999: the Haarlem Weekender in July 2010. This year due to a busy schedule we didn't manage to cover the same event, but today's report is a good opportunity to mention that Sadler repeated his success. He won the tournament again, but this time together with Dutch GM Erik van den Doel.

Sadler first in Haarlem again, shared with Van den Doel

Sadler (l.) in July, winning in Haarlem again, shared with Van den Doel (r.)

These two weekenders were the only classical chess tournaments in which Sadler participated since he retired from tournament chess in 1999 to start a professional IT career in The Netherlands. However, suddenly he also appeared on the participants list of one of the many summer opens - yes, a long, one-game-per-day Swiss! Because he only played Bundesliga and Dutch league games for more than a decade, naturally we were as curious as many other chess fans to see how he would do in Barca...


The 13th Sants Open took place August 19-28 in the Auditorium of the Civic Centre in the Sants neighbourhood in south Barcelona, Spain. Sants used to be an industrial town on the plain bordering Barcelona, known as Santa Maria de Sants; nowadays it belongs to the district of Sants-Montjuïc.

The tournament was a 10-round Swiss with a record 659 participants. They were divided over two groups, the strongest being for players rated 2000 and higher. The top group had 29 GMs and 45 IMs fighting for a 2,500 Euro first prize. The FIDE rate of play was applied: 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1.

Sadler continues comeback with victory in Barcelona

Sadler in action in Sants, Barcelona

Eduardo Iturrizaga started with five out of five, and so did Spanish FM Angel Arribas Lopez, who had top seeded Dutch GM Jan Smeets as one of his scalps! The two drew in round 6 which allowed Matthew Sadler and Abhijit Kunte of India to catch them. In round 7 Sadler defeated Arribas Lopez with Black to grab sole first place, with three rounds to go.

The next day, Iturrizaga returned to shared first place with Sadler beating Georgian GM Levan Aroshidze. In the meantime Dutch GM Jan Smeets had fought himself back to the top with victories in rounds 6, 7, 8 and 9. With one round to go, Smeets was on 7.5 points, the same as Iturrizaga and Sadler. In the decisive last round, Sadler beat Smeets in a brilliant game to clinch first prize, as Iturrizaga drew with Black against Narciso Dublan.

Sants, 2011
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 Bb7 9. O-O a6 10. e4 c5 11. d5 Qc7 12. dxe6 fxe6 13. Bc2 c4 14. Ne2 Nxe4 15. Ned4 e5 16. Ne6 Qb6 17. Bxe4 Bxe4 18. Nfg5 Bg6 19. a4 b4 20. Qg4 Qc6 21. f4 Bd3


22. Be3! Nf6

22... Bxf1 23. Rxf1 and Black's light squares are too weak.
23. Nc7+!


23... Ke7?!
The best chance was 23... Qxc7 24. Qe6+ Be7 and now White can take the draw with 25. Qf7+ Kd7 26. Qe6+ Ke8 27. Qf7+ but he should probably play on with 25. fxe5 Rf8 26. exf6 gxf6 27. Qd5 Rc8 (27... Rd8 28. Ne6!) 28. Ne6 Qd6 29. Qh5+ Bg6 30. Qh3 Rg8 31. Rae1.
24. Qh3 e4
24... Qxc7 25. Qe6+ Kd8 26. Nf7+
25. Nxa8 h6


26. Nc7! and White won.

Sadler continues comeback with victory in Barcelona

Sadler continues a successful... comeback?

Selection of games

Game viewer by ChessTempo

13th Sants Open 2011 | Round 10 (Final) Standings
Rk Name Ti FED Rtg Pts TB1 TB2 TB3
1 Sadler Matthew D GM ENG 2625 8.5 51.0 64.0 49.5
2 Iturrizaga Eduardo GM VEN 2603 8.0 55.0 67.5 49.0
3 Alvarez Pedraza Aramis GM CUB 2551 8.0 52.0 65.0 45.0
4 Narciso Dublan Marc GM ESP 2544 8.0 50.0 61.5 45.0
5 Delgado Ramos Hector FM CUB 2488 8.0 49.0 60.5 43.0
6 Kunte Abhijit GM IND 2528 7.5 56.5 69.5 46.5
7 Kovalyov Anton GM ARG 2612 7.5 54.5 66.5 46.5
8 Smeets Jan GM NED 2628 7.5 54.0 68.0 44.0
9 Handke Florian GM GER 2518 7.5 53.5 67.0 44.5
10 Rios Cristhian Camilo FM COL 2424 7.5 52.5 65.0 44.0
11 Mirzoev Azer GM AZE 2415 7.5 52.5 65.0 43.5
12 Gonzalez Garcia Jose GM MEX 2522 7.5 52.5 64.5 43.5
13 Jimenez Fraga Pedro Alejandro FM CUB 2464 7.5 51.0 62.5 44.0
14 Aroshidze Levan GM GEO 2539 7.5 50.5 62.0 42.5
15 Adhiban B GM IND 2542 7.5 49.5 61.0 40.5
16 Lalith Babu M R IM IND 2495 7.5 46.5 58.5 41.0
17 Fernandez Garcia Jose Miguel ESP 2285 7.5 44.5 54.5 38.0
18 Arribas Lopez Angel FM ESP 2443 7.0 53.0 66.5 45.0
19 Cuartas Jaime Alexander GM COL 2542 7.0 53.0 65.0 42.5
20 Perez Mitjans Orelvis IM ESP 2452 7.0 52.5 65.0 43.0
21 Cordova Emilio GM PER 2567 7.0 50.5 62.0 41.5
22 Gullaksen Eirik IM NOR 2376 7.0 50.0 61.0 40.5
23 Swiercz Dariusz GM POL 2553 7.0 49.0 61.5 43.0
24 Gonzalez Vidal Yuri GM CUB 2503 7.0 48.5 61.0 40.0
25 Alonso Rosell Alvar IM ESP 2502 7.0 48.5 60.0 39.5
26 Gopal G N GM IND 2576 7.0 48.5 59.5 41.0
27 Pulvett Daniel IM VEN 2303 7.0 48.5 59.5 39.0
28 Kanarek Marcel IM POL 2435 7.0 48.0 60.5 41.5
29 Bergez Luc IM FRA 2416 7.0 48.0 60.0 40.0
30 Matnadze Ana IM GEO 2428 7.0 47.0 59.0 38.5

Photos © Official website & ChessVibes


Share |
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


derdudea's picture

Nice to see Matthew Sadler play and win again. For all those who hear his name for the first time: his book on the Queen´s gambit declined is the best introduction to this opening available, even after more than a decade. And I guess that will be true for some more time. Unfortunetaly writing chess books is much more time consuming than playing, so we likely won´t see see a comeback on the book-market.

Patty43's picture

Apparently the organizers and Catalan chess authorities were very happy with Sadler and invited him to play in November the "Magistral Ciutat de Barcelona", a strong round robin tournament (last year Bruzón, Salgado López, Inarkiev, Edouard...). However, he declined the invitation because he's not a professional chess player but has a "normal" job and can only play when on holidays. The organizers were amazed!

Bob's picture

Great stuff from Mr. Sadler. Especially enjoyed the game against Smeets. Hope we see more of him soon!

Thierry's picture

Long time , no see ...
Nice to see Sadler coming back in the spotlight !
I really love Van den Doel's smile on the picture !

Hugo van Hengel's picture

Hm, Sadler-Smeets is missing in the pgn-file. I need to take my wooden chessboard.

Peter Doggers's picture

Check nr. 34, Hugo. ;-)

Hugo van Hengel's picture

Aha, then I have to check my configurations. I can only see the first 25 games. Thanks Peter!

Peter Doggers's picture

Don't think it's related to your computer; I think everyone needs to use the scroll bar.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Peter, I have the same problem: just 25 games and no scroll bar. (If it's supposed to be on the right: there half of the h-file is visible.) Using the arrow keys when at 25 doesn't work either.

Peter Doggers's picture

Hm... Please, in such cases, please email us your specific OS + browser and hopefully we can help.

Peter Doggers's picture

Hm, apparently in this article the scroll bar doesn't show in IE8 (and possibly other versions of IE), while it's fine in other articles. Unfortunately I can't see what I did differently.

Jeroen's picture

Well, for all his fans: Matthew will play this season on the topboard of SG Amersfoort, albeit in Dutch second class. He will get loads of cola and "bitterballs" for playing in the team :)

(and be assured that Barcelona will not be Matthew's last tournament)

Steve Giddins's picture

You pay him in cola and bitterballen? What's up, don't you like him??

Jeroen's picture

No payment Steve, it's just all he wants so we give it to him, tons of it

Thomas's picture

For non-Dutch people: second class is actually the third-highest level in Dutch team competitions - the "Meesterklasse" is on top of first class. Sadler played already last season, scoring 8/8 against relatively weak opposition (Elo up to 2250).

The magazine of the Dutch Chess Federation mentioned that he will, in any case, play another open in Oslo in October this year.

evahaut's picture

For those not having a clue about what Sadler is capable of, please check following game:
15. Kxf2!
28. Re4!

Rich's picture

Matthew Sadler the best non professional chess player in the world!! Incredible talent.

Latest articles