After exactly 16 and a half years I stepped back into the legendary venue of “The Wimbledon Of Chess.”
I still remember year 2002 when I was playing in the open and before each game I would go into the playing hall where Kasparov, Anand, Ivanchuk, Ponomariov, Adams, Shirov and Vallejo were playing. It was inspirational to be able to watch these players up close and every day I had 30 minutes before my own game started to get inspired by their play.
It was common to run into these guys in the hotel. I once witnessed a blind-folded analysis by Kasparov and Anand on the staircase leading to the upper floors. Or a lift ride with Ivanchuk, who commented with “hmmm” when I told him that Kasparov beat Ponomariov in the penulttimate round to clinch the tournament.
That win over Ponomariov was very important for Kasparov. Apart from winning the tournament, it was a matter of prestige since at that point Ponomariov was the FIDE Champion, having beaten Ivanchuk in the final of the knock-out event in 2001. I remember seeing his mother Klara in the audience going crazy and pumping fists when Ponomariov resigned the game. Was it an extra motivation for Kasparov the fact that the game was played on Fischer’s birthday?
This year, unlike last, the Second Spanish Division was played in the Anibal Hotel and that is where I and my team stayed. I don’t know if it was the aura of the place, the inspiration, or the fact that this time we played in the same playing hall they were playing in 2002, but I played rather well, scoring 100% (6 out of 6) on Board 1. One of the first things I did was to go and see Kasparov’s suite, the one he always occupied when playing here.
This plaque was placed next to the entrance in the suite after his retirement. The room number is 103.
All the winners of the tournament are proudly displayed In the lobby.
My best game from the tournament was played in Round 1. I was Black against a young Spanish talent, rated 2395. I noticed that he played the Nd2 line in the Catalan and I prepared well.
In spite of the mistake on move 14, I quite liked the way I played, the nice positional idea of doubling the g-pawns and also the controlled attack that won the game in style.
Even though my team didn’t do as well as last year, we had a great time in Linares. Additionally, I am quite happy with my recent results and the way I play and feel during the games. After Porto Mannu where I shared 3rd place, this is another good result for me. I cannot really complain about a 100% score, can I?