The 3rd edition of El Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. held from November 30 to December 8, 2022 at the civic center Can Massallera in Sant Boi de Llobregat, concludes with good sensations and demonstrations of great masters. The tournament was attended by 225 participants from 44 countries around the world, being Spanish players the most present with 59 participants (26,3%), followed by India with 26 participants (11.6%) and Germany with 14 participants (6.3%). By category, the tournament attracted 49 Grand Masters (GM), 11 Women Grand Masters (WGM), 41 International Masters (IM), 2 Women International Masters (WIM), 44 FIDE Masters (FM), 3 FIDE Masters (WFM) and 9 Master Candidates (CM).
The Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. 2022 started to heat up with the presentation campaign of the 3rd edition by the Ukrainian ambassadors of the tournament, Anna and Mariya Muzychuk, experts in a sport in which women need more opportunities. On November 8, 2022, the sisters visited the facilities of Mundo Deportivo, where they not only presented the new edition of the tournament, but also had the opportunity to play simultaneous games with Martí Ponce, actor who starred as Arnau in the TV3 series ‘Merlí’; Judit Corachán, triathlete; baseball player Miguel Blanco; Joana Ros, absolute champion of Catalonia; Hugo Uber, champion of Catalonia U-12; Pau Mulet, 3rd in the U-8 of Spain; and Laia Garcia, champion of Catalonia U-12 and runner-up of Spain in the same category.
On November 9, 2022, the headquarters of the Diputació de Barcelona received the visit of the Muzychuk sisters, where they were received by the mayoress of L’Hospitalet and president of the Núria Marín, Mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat, and Pilar Díaz, Mayor of Esplugues de Llobregat and Provincial Deputy of the Diputación deBarcelona, respectively. The meeting was also attended by Javier Ochoa, president of the Spanish Chess Federation; Pepo Viñas, president of the Catalan Federation; and the Consul General of Ukraine, Artem Vorobyov. The visit to the Diputació de Barcelona was followed by the presence of the Ukrainian chess experts at The British School of Barcelona, in Castelldefels, where they could exchange experiences with the students of different courses.
The visits of the Muzychuk sisters presenting the 3rd edition of El Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. of which they have been ambassadors, ended on November 10, 2022 with a visit to the Esports facilities of the Generalitat de Catalunyawhere they were received by the Secretary of Sports of the Catalan government, Anna Caula. The secretary, full defender of the presence of women in sport, especially in chess, a sport in which women still have a long way to go, but more and more of them are showing the world their talent like the Muzychuk sisters, enjoyed a checkmate with the Ukrainian sisters.
Tight competition between grandmasters
The 3rd edition of the Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. The event, which kicked off on November 30 with 175 participants of the group A, which included the mysterious and controversial GM Hans Moke Niemann, a 19-year-old American with 2699 ELO, a last-minute confirmation that caused a furor in the sports media; the Spanish GM Paco Vallejo (2716), tying with the Chinese GM Yu Yangyi, 28th in the world. The players started the games with an average of 2374 ELO. Group B had 50 participants, most of them Spaniards, such as Josep Sort (2083), Rafael Rodríguez (2045), Sergio Díaz (1996), Andorra’s Esteve Mateu Guiu (2071) or Germany’s Robert Herzwurum (1990), among many others.
This 3rd edition has had an average of 15% of women, doubling the average in Catalonia which is 7%, the European average with 6% and the world average with 9%, positioning itself as a reference tournament for women’s chess.
The 1st round took place on November 30, in which Paco Vallejo showed his great chess skills by defeating the young Polish star Jakub Seeman (2375), while the Chinese GM did not have the same luck and was defeated by the Dutch IM Lars Ootes (2370). On December 1, 2022 the 2nd round took place in which Spanish GM Paco Vallejo once again led the game against IM Lubbe Nicolas (2486) with a brilliant game with the black pieces.
On December 2 the Blitz Masters took placeThe tournament is exclusively for players who are GM, WGM, IM born in 1972 and earlier and players with more than 2500 standard ELO who participate in the 9 rounds of the tournament and with a fast time control set at 3 minutes per player and 2 seconds (3+2) for each move made in 9 rounds. The Masters was attended by 43 participants, 8 of whom were women. Eltaj Safarli, Azerbaijani, positioned himself as the clear winner of the Blitz Masters with 7½ points, ahead of GM Matthias Bluebaum and Latvian GM Nikita Meshkovs, who got the third position. Germany’s Josefine Heinemann was recognized as the best female player with 4½ points.
Municipal authorities and authorities of the Generalitat de Catalunya, including the mayoress of Sant Boi de Llobregat, Lluïsa Moret; the General Secretary of Esports of the Catalan Government, Lluïsa Moret; the General Secretary of Esports of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Anna Caula; the deputy of the Parliament of Catalonia, Raül Romeva i Rueda; and the ombudsman for the elderly, Antonia Barragán, visited the facilities of El Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. on December 2, accompanied by the tournament director IM Marcelo Panelo and the main organizer, Xavier Pérez Llorca.
The 3rd round, of a very high level, delighted with masterful plays such as those of Paco Vallejo against the impeccable play of Argentine Tomás Sosa (2548). Some great games stood out, such as the one played by Hans Niemann, who defeated the Georgian GM Nikolozi Kacharava (2532); and the incredible fight that for more than six hours kept the Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov (2694) in tension to defeat the Azeri Read Samadov (2450), who was only 15 years old. At this point in the tournament, the eight participants with excellent scores were clearly defined.
Female players and top schools
During the 3rd and 4th rounds, the Female Blitz tournament took place, which was exclusively for the 15 female players who play the 9 rounds of the Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. of groups A or B with a fast time control of 3+2 to 7 rounds. WGM Atousa Pourkashiyan (2322) was proclaimed winner with 5½ points, leaving second and third place to Mongolian WGM Altan-Ulzii Enkhtuul (2302) and Cuban WGM Maritza Arribas Robaina (2232), respectively.
A day later, on December 4, the tournament hosted the school championship in which the youngest players competed, 141 boys and girls from U-8 to U-12, with a quick time control of 10 minutes for each player in 7 rounds. The winner of the championship was Pau Manel Prada (1681) with 6½ points; in second place was Marc Lozano (1739) and the last podium position went to Alex Villa (1890).
On December 4, the 5th round was played in which the pairings pitted Hans Moke Niemann against Paco Vallejo, reaching a close and decisive situation that resulted in a draw and both scored half a point. Niemann went on to face GM Kirill Alekseenko (2687) and the Spaniard Vallejo against GM Tin Jingyao (2562). GM Aditya Mittal stood out with a great win in the 5th round with a flawless defeat of Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov, the #50 against the #4 in the initial ranking of the championship.
With only three rounds to go before the final, Paco Vallejo, Hans Niemann and Aditya Mittal were in the lead of the chess tournament. In the 6th round, played on December 5, and led by Hans Niemann, followed by Matthias Bluebaum, Singapore’s Tin Jingyao and Indian GMs Chopra Aryan and Aditya Mittal. In group B, there was another 5-point tie between three players: India’s Arush Chitre, Malaysia’s Kaushal Khandhar and Turkey’s Alper Celik Ali, while Poland’s Klara Szczotka took eighth place with 4 points.
The protagonists of the 7th round started one of the most interesting games, since the final victory would come out of it. It pitted German Matthias Bluembaum and Azeri GM Eltaj Safarli against each other and the American Niemann found himself with 5 points against Italian Daniil Dvirnyy, who accumulated 5½ points. In addition to these great players, Paco Vallejo faced Daniil Yuffa in the 8th round, who was a possible winner of the tournament.
The end of the 8th round, left the scoreboards with a 6½-way tie between Singapore’s Tin Jingyao and India’s Aditya Mittal, occupying the top spots, while Francisco Vallejo Pons and Hans Niemann dropped to tenth and eleventh place respectively. Group B, was led by the Indian Arush Chitre, with 7 points and no relevant competitor, since the second place was occupied by the Spanish Joan Vallbona Domingo, followed in third position by the Turkish Alper Celik Ali, with 5½ points.
Finally, in the 9th and last round of the tournament, which was played on December 8, it was a three-way tie at 7 points. GM M. Amin Tabatabaei defeated Tin Jingyao and Indian Aditya Mittal in the tiebreaker round, thus proclaiming himself the winner of the 3rd edition of the Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. and leaving the partners in second and third place, respectively. Meanwhile, in group B, as expected, the Indian Arush Chitre finished as winner with 7½ points, ahead of the Turkish Alper Celik Ali, who came second, and the Spaniard Joan Vallbona Domingo, in third place.
Another of the great cultural surprises, as well as sporting, was the exhibition of paintings with images of oil and watercolors of the 20 world chess champions, whose author is Nístal Mayorga, who makes a journey from Wilhelm Steinitz in 1886 to the last champion, Magnus Carlsen. The winners of the tournament received a copy of the book «Miradas de Campeones» by the painter, which was presented during the chess championship.
Presentation of awards to the great masters
The closing ceremony took place on December 8 at 16:30h at the Hotel El Castell in Sant Boi de Llobregat with the awarding of prizes to the deserved winners of the 3rd edition of El Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt.
The awards were presented to the respective winners by the mayoress of Sant Boi, Lluïsa MoretThe event was very well attended and well received by the public, among whom were present Xavier Pérez LlorcaThe main organizer of the event; Marcelo Panelotournament director; Hernan SiludakisThe winners of group A and B, the main referee; and the winners of group A and B, among many others.
At the end of the third edition of the tournament, the organization of El Llobregat Open Chess Tnmt. accepted the offer of the City Council of Sant Boi to celebrate in the city the next four editions, with the aim that Sant Boi is recognized as the town that annually hosts the highest level chess tournament held in Spain.