Reports | February 12, 2012 14:10

León celebrates its 25th edition with a Vallejo-Topalov match

León celebrates its 25th edition with a Vallejo-Topalov match

The 25th edition of the annual chess festival in León, Spain will include a 6-game match between Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain.

Press release by Leontxo Garcia

Fans cherish chess players who take risks and seek beauty in every game. Two of them, the Bulgarian Veselin Topalov and Spaniard Paco Vallejo, a former World Champion and a former U-18 World Champion, have been chosen to fight each other in the 25th edition of the Magistral Ciudad de León, in the León Auditorium, from June 7 to 11th.

Most of the new ideas I have shown in recent months are from Vallejo,

Topalov unveiled a few years ago, when he had hired the grandmaster from Menorca as a second. When they traveled together to a tournament – like for example Nanjing (China) in 2008 – Vallejo worked all night, while Topalov was sleeping, to show his analysis at breakfast. That phrase is an explicit recognition of the great talent of Vallejo, but also implies that both know each other well, making it difficult to prepare for the six games in León (two per day from Friday to Sunday).

The games will be played at an accelerated rate of play: 40 minutes plus an additional 25 seconds increment. If the match is tied 3-3 after six games, the tiebreak will be even more exciting, with five-minute games, everything under the supervision of the arbiter, Joaquin Espejo.

Topalov has always been a model of professionalism, both on stage and in the corridors, with, as the only exception, the 2006 World Championship in Elista (Russia), where his coach, Silvio Danailov, accused without evidence the Russian Vladimir Kramnik of cheating, using the help of computers. Very combative, Topalov tends to seek the limits of the offensive possibilities in his positions on the board. He's always well dressed and always brings the best attitude, taking time each day for his fans and sponsors, as well as journalists. Perhaps together with the Hungarian Judit Polgar, Topalov understand the best that elite chess players should not just play well, but also make a good impression. The 2005 FIDE World Champion and runner-up in 2010 played very few events in 2011 but has returned to work in 2012, at the age of 37. He continues to prepare physically, and still has much to say.

Vallejo, 29, is the best player born in Spain since Ruy Lopez, who was considered the unofficial world champion in the sixteenth century. Vallejo won his first medal (silver) at the age of 9 in the World Under 10. More medals followed at the European and World Under 12, Under 14 and Under 16 until he became World Champion Under 18.

Three world champions, Kasparov, Anand and Topalov, have said that he could be among the top 5 if he would train intensively. But Vallejo, a follower of Taoism, prefers a more relaxed life and refuses to be the chess Rafa Nadal. However, his tremendous talent, enormous ability to fight and his originality of approach make him highly appreciated by organizers and fans, and help him to stay in the top 30 in the world regularly.

The favorable results of audience surveys conducted by Sofres in 2010 and 2011 more than justify that the Castilla y Leon TV corporation will again broadcast the best moments of this 25th edition live, and produce special programs. As always, the games will be broadcast live online, with comments by grandmaster Miguel Illescas (8 times champion of Spain) and international master Michael Rahal.

There's no shortage of parallel activities that give a special stamp on this tournament, such as a chess films series, a master class and a tournament for young talents, a simultaneous exhibition, a conference on chess and computers, and a arbiters seminar.

The tremendous difficulties generated by the economic crisis have forced the organizing team, led by Marcelino Sion, to fine-tune the budget of the silver jubilee. But, nevertheless, León keeps alive a tournament that has never failed for 25 consecutive years.

Editors's picture
Author: Editors


Mike Hunt's picture

Its a sad to see where Topalovs level is now at, that in my mind he is not even favourite against this average GM.

steve's picture

vallejo, an average gm? you must be stupid...

redivivo's picture

The first encounter ever between two 2700 players, and the first friendly match ever between two top players? :-)

Juan Castillo's picture

Wasn't Nakamura-Ponomariov a friendly match between two 2700+ top players?

redivivo's picture

Yes, just having fun with the other press release that stated that Aronian-Kramnik will be the first friendly match ever between top players, and the first encounter between 2800 players. None of it of course true (Kramnik himself probably remembers his match against Kasparov in Moscow 2001) but this press release was even more strange in many other ways :-)

noyb's picture

Nice press release, but perhaps a little hyperbole. I don't recall Kasparov, Anand or Topalov ever saying in a published interview that Vallejo could be Top 5 (if someone knows, please provide). He's not even currently over 2700 ( But, it is always nice to see matches among good players, so let's enjoy.

Leontxo Garcia's picture

Thanks Noyb. Kasparov, Anand and Topalov told me that personally, years ago.

 Sedat ÇINAR's picture

Not an equal match. Vallejo is at the same time Topalov's second. Isn't he?
However if Vallejo is top spanish GM, it is meaningful.

Abbas's picture

This is a good opportunity for Toplov to play against a strong young GM, but it's not an easy match for Vallego though he the favorite.

basil's picture

Awesome photopshop skills, bannerguy.

sekarntak's picture

yeah, i agree, his skills is remarkable. it looks like his second did it. huh!!

Bardamu's picture

Topalov isn't a former world champion.

Eric's picture

Topalov won the eight-player, double round-robin FIDE World Chess Championship in San Luis, Argentina, in September–October 2005.

Bardamu's picture

yea, and after that tournament Topalov had a match with Kramnik for the world title. Kramnik won.

redivivo's picture

It was a reunification match unifying the two titles so obviously both players were World Champions before the match, one FIDE World Champion and the other Kasparov breakout World Champion.

adriano's picture

Like it or not since 1924 there has always been only one World Championhip - the one organised by FIDE. It is the only worldwide accepted chess organization and is hence the only one that can crown a World Champion. Everything else is illegitimate because anyone can then set up his own rules and can crown their own Champion.

A title is not something an individual can own, and World Championship rules are not something a World champion can dictate. Kasparov was rightly stripped of the title.

Given that the World champion title is not something an individual can own, Kasparov stopped being anykind of Champion in 1993. So there was nothing to pass on to Kramnik anyway.

Kramnik was world champion from 2006 to 2007, before that he won a commercial match against Kasparov under the auspices of BrainGames, this match was not for the world title since Kasparov was no longer champion.

Of course there will always be someone who is trying to rewrite history with interviews relying on short-term memory of others.

adriano's picture

According to a FIDE regulation any player with a rating of 2700 or higher can challenge the World Champion, providing he or she can provide a prize fund of one million dollars.

officially Kramnik was challenger on this match , he held the title of Braingame champion

WCC's picture

Adriano, it's not that easy. But first things first. Could you provide us with all the World Chess Champions since 1924, according to your "FIDE-rule"?

adriano's picture

Dear WCC
I'm not trying to prove anything, just a lot of readers are not familiar with the history of chess and others rely on short-term memory of readers.
Everyone can download and read the rules of FIDE, which existed at the time:
1. 1 A World Chess Championship Match between the World Champion and a challenger who has a minimum FIDE rating of 2700, can be organized under specific conditions as described in articles 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 of these regulations. This World Chess Championship match shall be organised in 2006/07 and represent an integral part of the World Chess Championship regulations for the cycle 2005-2007.

Is there the rules of FIDE recorded that the match Topalov - Kramnik - is the "unification match?"
The "unification match" was called by the journalists at a press conference. It was just a world championship match, which played a champion and a challenger for that title. The challenger was - Kramnik. The World Champion - Topalov.

In 2005, in San Luis ArgentinaTopalov was crowned as World champion by Ilyumzhinov. FIDE is the only organization that can conduct matches for chess crown.

In 2006, when Topalov was The World Champion, Ilyumzhinov was forsed by the Russian Chess Federation to organize a match Topalov - Kramnik in exchange for support for Fide Presidental elections in 2006. This was the reason why Fide created this ridiculous rules which were used only once.
There are laws and regulations that everyone must comply.
In any case, the fact that match Kramnik Kasparov was commercial under the auspices of private company BrainGames is undeniable.
Kasparov stopped being Champion in 1993 after he split FIDE.
Besides fans there should be experts and lawyers who are familiar with the case.

Bardamu's picture

So Khalifman was a world champion then? And Ponomariov? Stop talking nonsense man, Kramnik successed Kasparov and defended his title against Leko and Topalov. Eventually he lost it to Anand. No disrespect meant to Topalov.

adriano's picture

obviously you know nothing about history of chess. Khalifman, Ponomariov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov were world champions.
Viswanathan Anand named Rustam Kasimdzhanov - former world champion as one of his seconds for the match against Kramnik
Since 1924 all legitimate world champions were crowned by Fide. The actual Champion Anand is also crowned by Fide.

WCC's picture

Adriano, you are spreading some wild rumours but did not address my request. Once again, please provide us with all the World Chess Champions since 1924, according to your "FIDE-rule". Or did you try and felt the pain?

adriano's picture

no, obviously you should read the fide regulation from 2006 and after that to post comments

alfmdoncel's picture

Untrue. Alekhine was not crowned by FIDE in 1927.

Bardamu's picture

My point is that Khalifman and Ponomariov weren't the real world champion. Stop fooling yourself man. Kasparov was beaten in a match by Kramnik. Maybe that doesn't make Kramnik world champion, but then at least beating Topalov in the reunification match does. The world champion line goes as follows: Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik and the current champion Anand.

RealityCheck's picture

Good point "adriano"!! Your memory is long and clear, like mine.

adriano's picture

maybe You were world champion

Thomas's picture

"Topalov has always been a model of professionalism ... with, as the only exception, the 2006 World Championship in Elista (Russia)"
And a couple of interviews in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 where he repeated such accusations against Kramnik? He seeks "the limits of the offensive possibilities" (and at time goes beyond limits) not just at the board, but also in the corridors and press rooms!?

Frits Fritschy's picture

"... where his coach, Silvio Danailov, accused without evidence the Russian Vladimir Kramnik of cheating, using the help of computers."
A very interesting comment by Garcia. I wonder, is Topalov speaking by way of Garcia's mouth, as part of a charm offensive? Garcia could simply have said that Topalov is a top player with a combative approach to the game (which is true, whether people like it or not), so why something that sounds like a half-excuse, putting the blame on his ex-coach?

Fischerrr's picture

Yeah I think too this is half-excuse from Topalov, or either he is gonna kick Garcia next time he will see him :)

Leontxo Garcia's picture

To Frits Fritschy: After 29 years working as a professional chess journalist, it is clear that nobody is never talking by way of my mouth, unless I quote him. It is just my opinion.

Leontxo Garcia's picture

You are right, Thomas, but all those interviews are connected with the Elista match. I have always criticized Topalov/Danailov on that matter. I think Kramnik was not cheating then, as Topalov was not cheating either at the San Luis 2005 WCh, when several Russian GMs accused him without evidence of cheating. I talked to Topalov and Danailov in Bilbao the day before they flew to Elista. They were: 1) Very angry because of the previous year accusations; 2) Very worried (perhaps obsessed) about being mistreated by the Russian organizers in Elista. That could explain why they behaved so badly in Elista.

Thomas's picture

Thanks for replying. I guess I still disagree with you: Elista wasn't an incident, it wasn't just Danailov, and the main reason why they "behaved badly" was because Topalov was behind in the match. Topalov made such remarks also in interviews that weren't (directly) connected to the match: for example a questionnaire by the German magazine "Schach" has the rather innocent standard question "Who's your favorite actor?" - Topalov's answer was something like "my opponent from Elista who still pretends that he was innocent" ... .

By comparison, I consider Mamedyarov's cheating accusations an incident in the heat of the moment - but (unlike Topalov) he may still pay the prize for it: he gets relatively few invitations despite also being a player who seeks limits of offensice actions over the board.

And - but this may be more a matter of taste - I consider Topalov's reaction to losing his match against Anand also unprofessional, certainly compared to his nemesis Kramnik who was a very fair loser in Bonn. Still Topalov is, or at least was a great and entertaining player, but off the board I have at least mixed feelings about him: being well-dressed and always ready for an interview IMO isn't enough for unconditional praise.

Johnny's picture

Glad this match is happening. Cheers to the sponsors and those responsible behind the scenes.

Septimus's picture

"continues to prepare fysically,"

physically, perhaps? or do you mean systematically?

Topalov as a model of professionalism? Dude...give me a break... What about the BS in the WCh match against Anand?

Peter Doggers's picture

'Physically' was intended, and now corrected. Thanks.

oire's picture

Perhaps he meant fiscally. Topalov may be preparing by balancing his check books.

Buri's picture

LOL! This is one of the most stupidest articles I`ve ever read on here and anywhere else. Loads of garbage.

Leontxo Garcia's picture

Garbage? You are insulting me. Please, elaborate.

columbo's picture

and the pictures, good lord ! they look like two nummed birds :)

Anonymous's picture

"Vallejo, 29, is the best player born in Spain since Ruy Lopez" What an idiotic statement.

Leontxo Garcia's picture

Idiotic? Can a fact be idiotic?

Septimus's picture

I refuse to believe that Peter wrote this article.

Pablo's picture

He didn't. It's a press release from Leontxo García, from Spain.

john.delpanjo's picture

funny and sham article

Leontxo Garcia's picture

Sham? Why?

RealityCheck's picture

One can not expect to be taken seriously promoting play chess in glass cage or play forty minute game w/ twentyfive second increment or, employing soccer score card. Foul ball.

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