Reports | June 11, 2012 12:43

Vallejo wins his first "León", beats Topalov 3.5-2.5

Vallejo wins his first "León", beats Topalov 3.5-2.5

Francisco Vallejo Pons defeated Veselin Topalov 3.5-2.5 in a rapid match that was the main attraction of this year's 25th anniversary chess festival in León, Spain. On Friday the Spaniard took the lead with 1.5-0.5, on Saturday both players won one game each and on Sunday in the first game Vallejo decided the match in his favour. Topalov then won the last game.

Vallejo wins his first "León"

Event 25th Torneo Magistral de Ajedrez | PGN via TWIC
Dates June 8-10, 2012
Location León, Spain
System Match
Players Veselin Topalov & Francisco Vallejo Pons
Rate of play 45 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per game

In the last decade the tournament in León has become smaller and smaller, until only two players were invited last year. Back then Vishy Anand beat Alexei Shirov; this year the invited players were Veselin Topalov (37) and Francisco "Paco" Vallejo Pons (29).

Vallejo and Topalov posing with boxes of regional wine 

With the financial crisis hitting hard in Spain, it was quite an achievement that the organizers managed to actually hold another event. The fact that it was the 25th silver jubilee edition must have helped in that respect.

Like last year the format was a 6-game rapid match with two games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The rate of play was 45 minutes plus 10 seconds increment per game.

The players know each other well: Vallejo worked for Topalov as a second at a number of very important events, like the Elista World Championship in 2006 against Kramnik. This cooperation ended in 2009. Before the match in León, Topalov said:

Playing against somebody you know very well is quite frequent in professional chess. It is true, however, that I felt uncomfortable when I played Paco in Linares 2010, but the situation is different now because, most likely, both of us have changed our openings repertoire. Anyway, it is sure that the spectators will enjoy a very interesting match!

Veselin Topalov

Vallejo agreed with this statement:

Our personal relationship is very good, but three years is enough time to forget about psychological implications related to our work together.

The Spaniard was very motivated to perform well in León:

I played pretty well here against Anand and Gelfand in the last years, and made them suffering, but I lost at the end in both cases. I will do my best to improve that performance this weekend.

Vallejo, motivated to do even better

Topalov may have seemed the big favorite, but in fact in their 24 mutual games, the Bulgarian won six and the Spaniard five while in rapid games the score was even!

The match started on Friday on a sad note. A minute of silence was observed in memory of Rafael Cid Perez, the architect of the Seville World Championships 1987 between Kasparov and Karpov, whose tremendous popularity made Spain the world's most active country in chess and facilitated the start of the Magistral Ciudad de León in 1988.

The first move was made by the famous Spanish novelist Arturo Pérez Reverte, who is a great lover of chess. In his next novel chess plays an important role.

After his lost match against Vishy Anand in 2010, Topalov didn't play many tournaments. In our interview in January, the Bulgarian was quite optimistic about the upcoming Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee but his result was not great. In León, he still seemed rusty. The Bulgarian made a number of big mistakes and ended on the losing side: Vallejo won the match, and thus his first "León", with a 3.5-2.5 score.


PGN file


Clearly I suffer a crisis at the moment. I especially have problems with concentration. But I'm at an age when it's still possible to play at the top. I hope that when I play more tournaments, I'll improve my performance.

Topalov: "Clearly I suffer a crisis at the moment."

As always, the festival also included lectures, film screenings and a youth tournament. On Sunday, in the lobby of the auditorium a plasma screen was placed so that the visitors could enjoy the chess alongside the Roland Garros final and the Spain-Italy football match! Still, about 200 spectators preferred the climax of the match between Topalov and Vallejo.

Paco Vallejo, in good shape against Topalov

25th Torneo Magistral de Ajedrez | Match score


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.


Abbas's picture

Topalov supposed to win the match. It meant to popularize him. I think Danailov should choose a weaker player than Vallejo to secure the win.

RealityCheck's picture

@Abbas Danilov shd have chosen Anand. Then Topalov could have used Danilov's seven year old son as his second.

Chess Fan's picture

I really do not understand your comment.
Are you disrespecting Dalinov or Anand?

RealityCheck's picture

Definately not disrespecting Wch Anand. I am a true admirer and loyal fan of Viswanathan Anand.

However, my dislike for Mr. Danilov is growing daily. He recently tweeted some snide remarks about the Anand-Gelfand match. Hitting below the belt.

Something about his seven years old son would have played on in a certain position... don't remember exactly. I'll have to check again his tweet. But, here i just portray his son as Topa's second to rib his protege: implying he would have scored better had Danilov's son helped him.

Mike Hunt's picture

Time for Topalov to pack it in or play in big open events from now on. Losing to a run of the mill GM like Paco shows he is no longer an elite player.

Anonymous's picture

We could see that comment coming from miles away. However, as is written in the article, also in his "elite period" Topalov didn't have a positive score against the (btw highly talented) Vallejo in rapid chess.

Small tits Webcam's picture

I always used to read piece of writing in news papers but now
as I am a user of web thus from now I am using net for articles or reviews, thanks to web.

Septimus's picture

Topa should be playing at Tal instead of McShane as the token weakling.

Chess Fan's picture

Luke McShane is potentially a top-ten player. A brilliant Mathematics student from Cambridge (if I remember right), if he focusses on chess, he could be a potential World Champion. He has than intellectual ability.
You need to see his Sveshnikov loss (though brilliantly played by him and the best defensive move of 2004 by Anand) and his subsequent Berlin defence games against the World Champion to see how potentially good this Englishman could be.
I am a fan of his extremely active and innovative play.

Septimus's picture

This is precisely why I said Topa should take his place. Topa is the weaker player.

Chess Fan's picture

Sorry Septimus, I do not follow the logic. Don't you want a brilliant young, (better) talented player (McShane instead of Topolov) playing at Tal? Your logic seems non-sequitur to me.

Septimus's picture

What I said makes perfect sense based on my earlier premise i.e. it is good to have a token weaker player to mix things up a bit.

Chess Fan's picture

Maybe one of us should be that token bad player then, me from America, and you possibly from Russia (I am guessing) and we would even be the reason for brilliant miniatures! It is so much value addition to us in our life too - To McShane and Topolov as token weak players in Tal, not much in their life ;-)

chesshire cat's picture

Impressive how on chess forums, many chess "fans" urge GMs to retire .

Manu's picture

I wonder despite his current bad form what happened with all the preparation for matches Topalovs should have in his pocket.
He seems to be the only player (from those who played big matches lately) that hasnt benefited from that .
Preparation use to be a big part of his game , but lately his openings are quite shaky , even reckless if you ask me.

Mauricio Valdes's picture

Topalov is still hungover the lost vs Vishy!

Anonymous's picture

Tapolov also said himself in an interview that his match loss against Kramnik affected him deeply.

Perhaps he is just too fragile for top level chess now.

Chess Fan's picture

It wasn't Topolov losing as much as the way that lost that bothers me. Toilet gate with Kramnik, the statements against Anand and his wife (secretary, not a manager) were subjected to, win at all costs, money over everything, all these made be lose respect for the Dalinovian squad. But if they behave properly, I do not have anything personal against them.Topolov is a great player, and the Bulgarian people are known to be gracious. So, there is hope.

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