Spanish Team Championship – Division de Honor

The highest league of the Spanish Team Championship, Division de Honor, took place from 26th of September to 2nd of October in Monzon. The event is famous for the number of strong players it reunites and this year’s edition was no exception.

The tournament venue, Monzon, is a small city in the province of Aragon, very close to the location of another famous tournament we have been writing a lot about, Benasque. An imposing fortress built on top of a hill greets the travelers from a distance, indicating the way to their destination. The Castle of Monzon was built during the tenth century, when the city was still under Muslim occupation. Later on, it was captured by Aragonese forces and in 1143 passed to the Templars, who added more walls and chambers to the castle. King James I of Aragon lived here under Templar protection during his childhood. After the dissolution of the Templars, the castle was captured by the army of James II of Aragon and it continued to maintain garrisons until the nineteenth century. In the present, the castle is partially restored and declared a National Monument.

The Monzon Castle

The Monzon Castle

The narrow streets of Monzon's center

The narrow streets of Monzon’s center

The Cathedral of Monzon, built in the 12th-13th century

The Cathedral of Monzon, built in the 12th-13th century

River Sosa passing through Monzon

River Sosa passing through Monzon

Loved the design of the pavement

Loved the design of the pavement

But Monzon is not only a historical city, but also one with a rich industrial tradition. It began in the 20th century with the construction of a sugar factory which was later moved to Jerez de la Frontera, in Andalusia, southwestern Spain. Nowadays, the only remaining witnesses of the old sugar factory are its 78 meters high chimney and the administrative building which currently hosts a language school. After the Spanish Civil Wall, the industry kept developing thanks to the city’s good geographical situation (one hour and a half away from Zaragoza) and and communication with other important Spanish cities.

The chimney of the old sugar factory of Monzon

The chimney of the old sugar factory of Monzon

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

The gate and walls of the old sugar factory

The gate and walls of the old sugar factory

The playing venue was the four stars hotel MasMonzon that offered a big, spacious playing hall and good playing conditions. The tournament was a round robin betweend eight teams; the first six would keep their spot in the highest league, while the last two would move down to the first division.

Players occupying their seats before the start of the last round

Players are occupying their seats before the start of the last round

Our team Equigoma Casa Social Católica had a poor start, drawing the first two matches and losing the 3rd and 4th encounters against Club Jaime Casas and Club Mérida respectively.

GM Loek Van Wely (NED) playing for Gros Xake Taldea

GM Loek Van Wely (NED) playing for Gros Xake Taldea

GM Etienne Bacrot (FRA) of Gros Xake Taldea

GM Etienne Bacrot (FRA) of Gros Xake Taldea

Club Magic Extremadura versus Club Ajedrez Jaime Casas

Club Magic Extremadura versus Club Ajedrez Jaime Casas

Despite the efforts, relegation was almost a certain fate for us since we were underdogs in all the remaining matches. On the next round we managed to win against Club Magic Extremadura by 4.5 – 2.5. Victories of GM Julen Arizmendi, IM Miguel Santos and WIM Raluca Sgircea were enough to outnumber our defeat on the 1st board while the rest of the games were drawn.

IM Miguel Santos, supported by our first and sixth boards - GM Kacper Piorun and FM Juan Corral

IM Miguel Santos, supported by our first and sixth boards – GM Kacper Piorun and FM Juan Corral

WIM Raluca Sgircea

WIM Raluca Sgircea

The real highlight of the tournament for us came on round 6 when we unexpectedly won with a convincing 5.5 – 1.5 score against the reigning champions Club Solvay. Our first board GM Kacper Piorun won a good game against GM Pentala Harikrishna, GM Eduardo Iturrizaga did the same against Baskaran Adhiban on board two, while Yuniesky Quezada had also a date with lady victory on board 3 against GM Surya Ganguly.

GM Pentala Harikrishna, first board of Solvay

GM Pentala Harikrishna (IND), first board of Solvay

Our third board,GM Yuniesky Quezada (CUB)

Our third board, GM Yuniesky Quezada (CUB)

GM Julen Arizmendi won with black against GM Aleksander Delchev and the rest of the games were drawn. After this important victory we had achieved our main goal which was staying in Division of Honor for another year.

Celebrating the victory against Solvay

Celebrating the victory against Solvay

In the last round we played against Club Sestao, who had already won the competition with a round to spare. After a long fight (the longest of the day!) we lost by a 4 – 3 score.

GM Kacper Piorun (POL), playing against GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB) in the last round

GM Kacper Piorun (POL), playing against GM Leinier Dominguez (CUB) in the last round

The longest game of the last round, between GMS Julen Arizmend and Ivan Salgado ended in a draw

The longest game of the last round, between GMs Julen Arizmend and Ivan Salgado ended in a draw

Overall, it was a very strong event and we look forward to playing again next year and we’ll try to improve on this year’s results.

The Spanish Champions, SESTAO FUNDACION EDP

The 2016 Spanish Champions, Sestao Fundacion EDP

Let’s see now some of our favorite games from the tournament:

Leinier Dominguez had an incredible performance. He had just won a silver medal in the Olympiad and continued to show his great form in Spain. His victory against Adhiban was quite impressive:

GM Leinier Dominguez, first board for Cuba in the Olympiad

GM Leinier Dominguez, first board for Cuba in the Olympiad

Another player who had an outstanding tournament was Yury Kuzubov (UKR) from Club Jaime Casas. He scored 5.5 out of 7, gaining 18 rating points.

GM Yury Kuzubov playing in Benasque Open, where he won third place

GM Yury Kuzubov playing in Benasque Open, where he won third place

Our team mate Kacper Piorun had a good tournament with 3 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws. Nevertheless, his victories against the European Champion Ernesto Inarkiev and the super strong Pentala Harikrishna were spectacular.

GM Kacper Piorun versus GM Pentala Harikrishna (photo via deportesenavila.blogspot.com.es)

GM Kacper Piorun versus GM Pentala Harikrishna (photo via DeportesAvila)

Our team, Equigoma Casa Social Catolica

Our team, Equigoma Casa Social Catolica

dsc_0285

The trophy each participant team received from the organization

The blunder of the tournament. It occurred in the first round in the game Cheparinov – Harikrishna. The game had been roughly equal  and the most natural outcome would have been a draw. See the diagram below

White can draw with Ka2, Ka3, Kb2 but sometimes things go wrong without a reason and Cheparinov played 45.Kb4?? losing immediately after 45…Qa8

White can’t avoid the mate. Ouch!

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