Reports Sep 10, 2014 | 7:44 PMby GM Pepe Cuenca

Ivanchuk leads Mérida to Spanish Championship

Vassily Ivanchuk’s team Mérida Patrimonio de la Humanidad have won the Spanish Team Championship, which ended today in the world-renowned chess city of Linares. The 7-round event featured a combination of Spanish players and international stars such as Anish Giri and Etienne Bacrot.

The winners of the “Honour Division” were the top seeds from Mérida in Western Spain, with the Roman ruins to be found there explaining the extravagant name. They had an imposing line-up, with Ferenc Berkes in particular demolishing the opposition:

1GMIVANCHUK Vassily2726UKR½½½½1½½4.072673
2GMALMASI Zoltan2694HUN½10½1½14.572592
3GMKRYVORUCHKO Yuriy2708UKR1½½½½115.072576
5GMBERKES Ferenc2649HUN1½111116.572521
6GMILLESCAS CORDOBA Miguel2617ESP½½0½1013.572443
7GMKORNEEV Oleg2581ESP110½1115.572370

Second, a point back, were Sestao Naturgas Energia, while Magic Extremadura took third.

The winning team - Mérida Patrimonio de la Humanidad | photo: José Antonio Díaz

A team with "Chuky" on top board and Korneev and Illescas on the bottom two is not to be treated lightly!

This is the top Spanish team division, featuring the best Spanish players alongside numerous international stars (Giri, Ivanchuk, Almasi, Iturrizaga, etc.). As well as a fierce sporting struggle – no team went unbeaten – it’s also an ideal training ground for Spanish IMs and GMs, who can come face to face with some of the big guns.

Going into the final round the leaders had a “relatively simple” task against La Escola D’Escacs from Barcelona, a team fighting to avoid relegation. Mérida took no mercy and thrashed them 5.5:0.5, ensuring themselves first place:

4.1GMIVANCHUK, Vassily2726UKR-GMRAKHMANOV, Aleksandr2626RUS½ - ½
4.2GMALMASI, Zoltan2694HUN-GMSPRAGGETT, Kevin2564CAN1 - 0
4.3GMKRYVORUCHKO, Yuriy2708UKR-GMCRUZ, Cristhian2569PER1 - 0
4.4GMBERKES, Ferenc2649HUN-IMGUAL PASCUAL, Antonio2447ESP1 - 0
4.5GMILLESCAS CORDOBA, Miguel2617ESP-FMAVILA JIMENEZ, Xavier2220ESP1 - 0
4.6GMKORNEEV, Oleg2581ESP-ORTEU CAPDEVILA, Max2080ESP1 - 0

The impressive entrance to the Granary in Linares, the scene of a feast of chess this summer | photo: www.linaresturismo.es

This wasn’t Illescas’ tournament, with the 48-year-old former Spanish no. 1 dropping rating points, but he ended by winning a fine miniature in the last round, showing just what can happen if Black plays too optimistically in the opening:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. ♗f4 Not the most common approach.

3... dxc4 4. e3 b5 As in many Slavs, Black defends the extra pawn and hopes to weather the counterplay and strong centre conceded to White.

5. a4 e6 6. axb5 cxb5 7. ♕f3 Illescas aims to exploit the weakness of the h1-a8 diagonal.

7... ♕d5 8. ♗e2 ♗b7 9. ♘c3 ♕d7

9... ♗b4 10. ♗xb8 ♖xb8 11. ♕g3

10. ♕g3 ♘a6 11. ♘f3 f6 12. 0-0 g5? A bad mistake. Black was playing decent chess and could have continued to do so with

12... ♘b4 13. e4 although I like White's position more. The centre is a battering ram and the black pieces aren't particularly well-placed.

13. ♘xg5! The multiple Spanish Champion doesn't need to be asked twice.

13... fxg5 14. ♗h5+ ♔d8 15. ♗e5 ♗g7 16. ♕xg5+ ♗f6

16... ♘e7 17. ♗xg7 ♖g8 18. ♗f7+−

17. ♗xf6+ ♘xf6 18. ♕xf6+ ♔c7 19. ♕e5+ ♔b6 The king goes for a walk.

20. ♖xa6+! The final blow.

20... ♗xa6 21. ♕c5+ ♔b7 22. ♗f3+

1-0

Two greats: Illescas and Ljubojevic observe the games | photo: José Antonio Díaz


On board two Canada’s Kevin Spraggett had Black against Hungary’s Zoltan Almasi. Things were going more or less normally, until... 

Kevin was probably already thinking about a draw, since it seems as though all the pieces are soon going to be exchanged and a draw against a 2700-player is of course a great result. Moves like Nd4 would have been perfectly reasonable. However, the Canadian may have relaxed too soon and played:

1. ♘d2? ♘xd2 2. ♗xd2 ♗c2 and, incredibly, it's time for White to resign!

3. ♗b4

3. ♗b1 ♗f6 4. ♖a2 ♗b3!−+

3... ♗f6−+

0-1

A vital encounter took place in the final round between Sestao and Solvay, who were competing for second place. It was a close fight:

M.5  SESTAO NATURGAS ENERGIAEloFED-3  C.A. SOLVAYEloFED4 : 2
2.1GMGIRI, Anish2758NED-GMHARIKRISHNA, P.2725IND1 - 0
2.2GMFRESSINET, Laurent2712FRA-GMDELCHEV, Aleksander2660BUL½ - ½
2.3GMEDOUARD, Romain2674FRA-GMGANGULY, Surya Shekhar2614IND½ - ½
2.4GMRODSHTEIN, Maxim2678ISR-GMADHIBAN, B.2619IND½ - ½
2.5GMSALGADO LOPEZ, Ivan2619ESP-IMCACHO REIGADAS, Sergio2511ESP½ - ½
2.6GMDEL RIO DE ANGELIS, Salvador G2517ESP-GMDE LA VILLA GARCIA, Jesus Mari2483ESP1 - 0

Anish Giri scored a crucial win against Harikrishna. The India played Na5 in the opening to surprise his opponent, but soon ended up slightly worse.


Giri-Harikrishna. Position after 8...Na5!?

You can replay the whole game here.

It was a good tournament for Harikrishna, who despite losing today increased his rating by 5 points | photo: José Antonio Díaz

The teams relegated were Equigoma and Barberá, who despite much lower budgets still put up a fight.

In the final round Catalan Barberá scored their first point by holding Gros Xake (Bacrot, Van Wely and co.) to a draw, which didn’t alter their fate but meant they could leave Linares with their heads held high.

Let’s take a look at how their young talent Erik Ramírez managed to dismantle IM Argandoña:


Position after 23.f3

23.f3 seems to defend everything, but the international master had clearly missed the pretty tactical blow that decides the game. Erik played 23...Ba4! and after 24.Qxa4 played 24...Nxe2+ followed by Qxf3, regaining his piece with an extra pawn. Argandoña decided to give up the exchange on d1 but couldn't avoid defeat.

So the final standings were as follows:

Rk.SNoTeamGames  +   =   -  TB1  TB2 
17MERIDA PATRIMONIO DE LA HUMANIDAD76011229.0
25SESTAO NATURGAS ENERGIA75111128.0
34CLUB MAGIC EXTREMADURA74211024.5
43C.A. SOLVAY7412926.0
52GROS XAKE TALDEA7313721.0
61ESCOLA D'ESCACS DE BARCELONA7205413.5
78EQUIGOMA - CASA SOCIAL CATOLICA7106214.5
86C. E. BARBERA7016111.5

That concluded a seemingly endless sequence of tournaments in Linares, but the Spanish summer just goes on. The attention of the chess world will be focussed on Bilbao for the Masters Final and the European Chess Club Cup, which start in just a few days’ time. 

See also:


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