Alexei Shirov leader in Salamanca

Yesterday we attended the fifth round, past the halfway point of the tournament. The games on the second day had been very exciting, but with more draws, despite the bloody fights. Well, if what happened on the first day is not very frequent, today it was repeated.

Today several of the participants, Almira Skripchenko, Elisabeth Paethz, David Anton and their companions went to see the Lucena incunabulum, dating from 1497, at the Library of the University of Salamanca and the Director also showed them Damiano’s treatise, written and printed at a later date, in Italian.

This fifth round was to mark the course of the tournament: winners and losers. Among the boys, before this round Topalov and Shirov were leading with 3 points, followed by Anton and Iturrizaga with 2.5 points. Among the girls, Salimova is still with 2 points and Sabrina with 1.5 points.

Yesterday came the national television (Tele 5) to record a small report. This presential tournament, raised with enormous courage from the organization, with the collaboration of all the players, has been fed by the small advantage of being news for the media. It draws attention to the good staging and the singular framework chosen not without difficulties.

  Today’s main course: Iturrizaga-Topalov. Last year the then Venezuelan player won with strong attacking play and this year the same thing happened again, but with a strong positional game of the now Spanish nationalized player. Vesselin evidently played a bad opening. Some doubts remain about Black’s 29…e5 advance (better 29…Rc7) and the bishop vs. rook ending, which is certainly won by White, although in the end Topalov had chances for a draw.

Very important was also the Paethz-Vega encounter between the girls. For the German it was to get into the fight. And thanks to strong tactical play in the middlegame (22…Bc4! And 23…Bb5!) the threat of Nc4 proved decisive.

Sprichenko-Shirov was to prove another hard blow for the Frenchwoman, who obviously has not had the desired start and has tough opponents from now on. The sequence 25 Ah6 giving up piece followed by the “quiet” and 26 Tde1 shows Shirov as big favorite for the title. He takes the lead with 4 points, followed by Iturrizaga with 3.5 points.  

Salimova, on the other hand, shows that she can go far. In fact, she came to the tournament with her trainer Peter Arnaudov. Anton managed to get a slight advantage that he finally managed to tactically realize.