SL Narayanan wins in the Blitz Masters Ciutat de L’Hospitalet 50 X 50 Tournament, from El Llobregat Open Chess Tournament

Can Massallera, Sant Boi. It was five o’clock in the afternoon today, November 29, when the main arbiter Hernán Siludakis gave the signal to start the games of the blitz for international titlists that precedes the 4th edition of the Llobregat Open Chess Tournament, one of the reference championships in Europe. The teachers, they and they, met again, exchanging warm greetings. Winter had just arrived in the Catalan town of Sant Boi and the fifty or so chess players who were to compete for the €20,000 prize money had become familiar with the playing hall.

The three seeded players (Slovenia’s Vladimir Fedoseev (2719), Austria’s Kirill Alekseenko (2667) and Spain’s Alexei Shirov (2659)) were ready to lead the ranking from the start, but in the first round there was a surprise when the Spaniard lost a draw against Armenia’s Karen Movsziszian. And, in the second round, it was the Catalan Marc Narciso who stood in Alekseenko’s way, ending the game between them in a draw thanks to his precision in the middle game in time constraints. Fedoseev, therefore, was beginning to clear the way.

The third round saw Spain’s Daniil Yuffa and India’s Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan rise to the top positions, but the fourth round featured Lithuania’s Paulius Pultinevicius, who rose to the top board. Shirov and Vallejo, meanwhile, did not seem to be playing their best chess.

The sixth round of play was reached with an unexpected defeat of the recently naturalized Spaniard Alan Pichot on the third board against the Indian Gupta Sankalp, who was proving to be very strong at a fast pace. We had crossed the halfway point of the competition and some talents were beginning to show signs of fatigue, especially those who had been left behind in the fight for the top places. In a one-day tournament, with a prize purse of €1,500 for first place and €1,000 for fifth place (as well as €150 from 31st to 40th place), each step in the final ranking is worth its weight in gold.

At the end of the seventh round, everything seemed to indicate that India’s Narayanan was aiming high, although Fedoseev and Pultinevicius were lurking just half a point behind. The confrontation between the two, on the first board, was to be decisive.

The eighth round did not disappoint, with intense fighting on all boards to score valuable points for the standings. On the first board Narayanan won, who effectively handled the black pieces. In the mid-table zone, Alexei Shirov made his game exciting, playing a virtuoso ending against Indian IM Vaishali Rameshbabu, who is culminating a dream 2023 after qualifying for the Candidates Tournament recently.

The ninth and final round of the tournament did not disappoint. Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan (8 points) made good the predictions and won with the white pieces against Azerbaijan’s Vugar Asadli, who had just staged a remarkable comeback from board 18 in the third round. Second was Fedoseev (7.5) and third was Pultinevicius (6.5). The first Spanish player was Marc Narciso (6th, with 6 p.), who was consistently at the top of the competition.

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By Jorge I. Aguadero Casado, editor-in-chief of Peón de Rey.

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