The famous chess city of Linares will once again be the capital of Spanish chess this August. Yesterday the Spanish Team Championships began in the Honour and Premier Divisions, with star names such as Harikrishna, David Navara, Peter Leko, Loek van Wely and Arkadij Naiditsch in action, though the novelty this year is that each team must post at least three Spanish players in each match. In total six Spanish Championships will be held in Linares before the end of the month, and you can follow them all on chess24 and on the LaLiga4Sports YouTube Channel.
The highest division of the Spanish Championship began with extremely tense and evenly-balanced matches. Even the one big win of the day, a 5:1 victory for CAC Beniajan Duochess over Jaime Casas de Monzón, only ended that way after an afternoon when at some point it seemed as though the losers were favourites to take the match.
In the match between Solvay and Extremadura the teams couldn't be separated on the first four boards, while there was a dramatic turn of events on the last. Jesús de la Villa was outplaying his opponent Carlos Suárez and, with an exchange sacrifice, he increased his advantage. However, he weakened his king position unnecessarily and Carlos cunningly set up a trap into which his opponent fell:
With 30.Re5 Suárez created a confusion of pins that saw De la Villa lose the thread. He missed the threats, and with 30...Nc4? "forced" White to play the combination 31.Rxf4! when after 31...Qxf4? 32.Rxg5+ Black resigned, since Kh8 runs into the well known tactic 33.Rg8+, winning the queen. De la Villa could still have responded to the combination with 31...Bxe5 to reach an ending with three pawns for the bishop, when the most likely outcome would have been a draw.
That left Solvay in the hands of 67-year-old former Georgian Champion and Vishy Anand coach Elizbar Ubilava, who kept on pressing in the ending until his opponent, Lithuania's Deimante Cornette, mistakenly went for a lost bishop ending.
Defending Champions Sestao beat Escola de Escacs thanks to a win for Miguel Santos over Levan Aroshidze. The only decisive game of the match could easily have had the opposite result, since Levan had a big advantage against his talented opponent but found a way to spoil things. Miguel was very critical of his play afterwards, although he was happy to have found counterplay!
Although not the decision error - in fact the computer still shows a big white advantage, 30.Bf5 allowed Miguel to begin a dangerous counterattack against the white king with 30...Nxc3+! 31.bxc3 Na6. White couldn't adjust and went on to lose, while after moves such as 30.Ka2 or 30.Rg4 Black's attack wouldn't have been so strong and White would have been favourite to convert his advantage into a win.
On paper CAC Beniajan Duochess comfortably beat Jaime Casas, but the scoreline doesn't reflect the difficulties they faced at the board. The key swing in momentum came in the game between David Antón and Daniel Forcén. Black had an extra pawn, but David found a way to complicate and took advantage of a couple of blunders to claim victory.
Magic also scored a comfortable win against Oromana due to their advantage on the lower boards.
Only Arkadij Naiditsch-led Gros scored a comfortable win on a day marked by comebacks by Collado Villalba against Silla, after a fine win for Monllor against Aranaz, and by Barbera against Grandama.
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