“Chess is very important to us”

Sponsors maintain their support for the tournament in times of financial crisis

LEONTXO GARCÍA (Press Officer). Madrid Chess is important in Leon. All institutions and companies sponsoring the tournament (June, 3-7) for many years are still there, in times of financial crisis, due to the chess good image and social utility: Leon is one of the Spanish cities where chess is used more in education of children and the prevention of Alzheimer. And the four participants in the 23rd edition are prominent:

Levon Aronian (Armenia), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Leinier Dominguez (Cuba) and Paco Vallejo (Spain).

The tournament director Marcelino Sion highlighted what’s new this year, during the presentation in Madrid: “Although a big majority of the top chess stars have played in Leon, Aronian, Gelfand and Leinier Dominguez are coming for the first time. Joining them will be Paco Vallejo, who has already earned a place in the elite”. Sion also recalled that the live Internet broadcast of the 2009 final was followed by 60,000 people.

The three public sponsors emphasized different aspects of chess. Natalia Rodriguez, Councillor for Sports, said that Leon has already produced several Spanish champions among children, the Municipal School of Chess has more than 700 students, and first activities on chess and brain aging are developing successfully. Jose Maria Lopez, Deputy of Sports, stressed the great social utility of chess, especially for children, as demonstrated in the experience of various schools in the province. The County Council will host a lecture from Leontxo Garcia (chess against Alzheimer) on June 5 at the Institute of Culture.

GM Miguel Illescas will give another lecture for young talents on June 2nd.

Alejandro Vaquera, Director of Sports at the University, said that chess is a form of culture, as well as an elite sport, which is why the University will sponsor, once again, a cycle of films about chess (30 May to 5 June) and an exhibition of simultaneous games of Aronian, 7 June. The two representatives of private companies (Manuel Alberto Gajate of Cajaduero, and Javier, Manager of Alsa) stressed the good image that chess is giving to the sponsors, because it is closely linked with intelligence.

What Vallejo said “As for the quality of my game, I think I am among the top ten, but I have to fix my problem with time trouble, and that’s not easy,” said Vallejo two months after his up and downs in Linares. He described the Leon tournament as “very hard” but he feels able to win: “If not, do not play. I’ve beaten my three opponents this year at least once, and I remember that in 2009 Viswanathan Anand, who is perhaps the best rapid player of all time, had to sweat a lot to beat me”.

As for the World Championship between Anand and Topalov, Vallejo does not have a clear prediction: “I have worked for both, and learned a lot from them. There are several factors that benefit one or the other, and complicate the prognosis. There is only one thing we can almost guarantee: it will be a fascinating match”.

Finally asked about the chess-boxing evenings, which are having great success in London, he said: “It’s a funny variation, but I think I would not dare to practice. If something similar is done on chess and football, then I’d participate”.

More information: www.advancedchessleon.com

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