Topálov-Vallejo to celebrate 25 brilliant years
LEONTXO GARCÍA (JEFE DE PRENSA)
Chess as an exciting spectacle and a high fighting spirit have been the basic principles of the Ciudad de Leon Chess Masters for 25 consecutive years. Therefore, two big fighters were invited to celebrate its silver jubilee: Veselin Topalov, former world champion; and Paco Vallejo, former world champion U-18. They will play a six game rapid match, from Friday to Sunday.
It sounds very logical to point Topalov as clear favorite. However, the reality is different: after 24 games between them, six victories for Topalov, five for Vallejo and 13 draws. If we count only rapid games, the balance is absolutely equal. In Leon, they will have 45 minutes per game plus 10 additional seconds after each move.
Vallejo worked for Topalov as a second on very important events, like the very polemic World Championship 2006, against Kramnik. He had to follow a very tough schedule then, including many no sleeping nights. That experience, which ended in 2009, was very fruitful for the Spanish GM, who reached his best position in the Elo list in July 2011: 20th, with 2.724 points.
Topalov is not contemplating that background as a psychological problem: “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”.
Vallejo agrees: “Our personal relationship is very good, but three years is enough time to forget about psychological implications related to our work together”. He is very motivated to perform well in Leon: “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”. And he feels in good shape: “I have stayed for a month at the Solitude Akademie, near Sttutgart, with artists and intellectuals from different disciplines, thanks to a German Foundation which has decided to add chess to the arts”.
Practically all the top chess stars have played in Leon along the last 25 years. And everything indicates we will see a fascinating mental fight on the silver jubilee.