Last week we were privileged to have Paul Dargan talk about chess in Amsterdam. Today, another team mate of mine, Antonio Moneva Jordan, contributes an inspiring piece about chess in his home city, Zaragoza in the Aragon region of Spain. I know where I want to play this summer.
Chess in Zaragoza is as popular as ever. Just 2 weekends ago the great Anatoly Karpov visited the city to promote a city tournament and play some exhibition chess. The highlight of the weekend events was a large outdoor simultaneous display at the city centre comprising 250 boards. Karpov started the opening move in all of them and then concentrated in 14 selected boards while other masters continued the rest of the games. Over 400 participants of all ages enjoyed the event and loved getting their photograph with the former World Champion.
In the end Karpov won 13 out the 14 games and only conceded a draw against an old friend and FIDE master Cristobal Ramo. Interestingly, Cristobal beat Garry Kasparov 21 years ago in another outdoor simul in the city, soon after Garry became World Champion. When we were young kids Cristobal and I played for the same club (Helios) and even represented our school team (Maristas) where he was a great top board and I was a very distant second.
Ever since I was a kid, playing chess outdoors in late spring and summer has been very popular in Zaragoza, often simultaneous displays to attract youngsters to the game. In Spain chess is generally more popular than in the UK and is almost considered a sport. I once took part in a gruelling 24 hour chess marathon in Galicia consisting of 6 one hour games, followed by 6 30 minute games, to finish off with 6 five minute games, all pretty much in succession. It certainly felt like the hardest sport I had ever played...
A number of top GMs reside in Spain including Anand, Shirov and Topalov to name only a few. Before his ascendency to glory Topalov used to tour the country winning open tournament after tournament. Chess in Spain has prospered since Lucena's writings in the XV century to the very famous 1985 World championship in Sevilla between Kasparov and Karpov. Zaragoza is holding the International Exposition (Expo) in 2008. Hopefully it will serve to further promote chess in this great city.
Antonio Moneva Jordan
Garry Kasparov - Cristobal Ramo Frontinan, Zaragoza Simul 1986
1.e4 c6 2.d4 g6 3.f4 d5 4.e5 h5 5.Nf3 Nh6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.Nbd2 Bf5 8.h3 Nd7 9.Bf2 Nf8 10.c3 Ne6 11.g3 Rc8 12.b4 a5 13.a3 axb4 14.axb4 Ra8 15.Ng5 Rxa1 16.Qxa1 0-0 17.Be2 Qa8 18.0-0 Nc7 19.Kh2 Qc8 20.Qd1 f6 21.Ngf3 Bxh3 22.Nh4 Bxf1 23.Nxf1 Kh7 24.Ne3 f5 25.c4 Qe6 26.b5 dxc4 27.Nf3 Qd7 28.Ng5+ Kh8 29.bxc6 bxc6 30.Bxc4 Nd5 31.Qb3 e6 32.Bxd5 cxd5 33.Qb6 Re8 34.Be1 Ng4+ 35.Nxg4 hxg4 36.Bb4 Bh6 37.Qd6 Qxd6 38.exd6 Bxg5 39.fxg5 Rd8 40.Kg2 Kg7 41.Kf2 Kf7 42.Ke3 Ke8 43.Kf4 Kd7 44.Ke5 Rf8 0-1