Chess

León Masters – Anand, Shírov… and a secret character

The tournament enters Facebook with great force

Tradition and routine often outweigh innovation in chess tournaments. One of the few exceptions is the Magistral Ciudad de León, always avant-garde. There is a mysterious and unprecedented character in the 24th edition, The Restless Player, who will appear alongside the world champion, Viswanathan Anand, and his ingenious opponent, Alexei Shirov, any place or time, beginning at the opening on Thursday.

The Restless Player is a creation of The Restless Investor, the sole new sponsor in the 24th edition (all others are an example of faithfulness for many years), which thus provides an innovative element to the tournament one year before its silver jubilee, scheduled for 2012. The mysterious character is also a very incisive and anonymous writer, who has already published juicy stories (www.elinversorinquieto.es).

It looks like Anand started last week journey from his hometown of Chennai (formerly Madras, in southeast India) with mixed feelings: some disappointment due to the separation for a few days of his baby, Akhil (this name has different meanings in Tamil, but Anand prefers “ruler” and “king”) and his wife, Aruna; and, on the other hand, hope for success for the eighth time in Leon. To increase his chances for a new victory, he has been working for a few days at his other home, in Collado Mediano (Madrid), together with his coach, the Danish grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen.

Shirov will arrive in Leon on Wednesday with his wife, Olga, and his coach, Manuel Perez Candelario. As happens to most top players, his score with the World Champion is very unfavorable for him since Anand defeated him in the World Championship 2000 final in Tehran (Iran). But he has now have an appropriate opportunity to retaliate, as Shirov seems to be in very good shape after winning in Lublin (Poland) with plenty of creativity in his games.

Leon 2011

The drawing of lots will be on Thursday, 8 p.m, at the Hotel Conde Luna, with both players and the international arbiter Joaquin Espejo. The games (two each day) will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the excellent Auditorium, equipped with giant screens and handsets, so that spectators can see the moves and close-ups of the players, and listen to the commentators: Miguel Illescas, eight times Spanish champion and international master Michael Rahal.

Following the success of previous editions, Castilla y León television will provide extensive coverage, including live connections. Each player will have 45 minutes per game plus 30 seconds increment after each move.

The tournament director, Marcelino Sion, is excited by the success on Facebook, with over a thousand followers in the first 24 hours.

As usual, the organizers will take great care on the parallel activities: simuls by Shirov, a lecture by Illescas on the Kasparov-Deep Blue historic match, another lecture class for the local young talents by the IM Sergio Estremera, a chess cinema week and the traditional Young Talents tournament.

Despite the big economic crisis, everything will be sponsored by a balanced combination of public bodies and private companies, which have been loyal to the tournament for many years.

Official webpage / Live games

Facebook: Torneo Magistral de Ajedrez Ciudad de León

Leontxo Garcia (Press Officer)

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