THE Basque city of San Sebastian is famous for being the launching pad in 1911 of the “unknown” Cuban José Raúl Capablanca, who – despite the controversy of the pre-tournament favourite objecting to his invitation – went on to win the super-tournament there on his first major international outing.
Before the tournament, Aaron Nimzovich, who was a leading world title challenger, launched a vociferous protest, claiming the 23-year-old Cuban upstart was not worthy of playing alongside luminaries. But in the opening round Capablanca crushed Nimzovich before going on to capture first place ahead of several other potential title challengers – Rubinstein, Vidmar, Marshall and Tarrasch.
The Cuban’s victory propelled him to be the second strongest player in the world. The rest is history: Capablanca was seen as the coming man; and indeed, ten years later, he beat Emanuel Lasker to become the third world chess champion.
In 2011, San Sebastian staged a special centenary commemorative festival to remember the great tournament of 1911. But that was a one-off, and this year’s more traditional 36th San Sebastian International Open title was won by Spain’s GM Daniel Alsina Leal, who edged out his fellow countryman GM Renier Vazquez Igarza on tie-break after both scored 7.5/9.
E Hernandez - D Alsina Leal
36th San Sebastian Open, (9)
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Bg5 Nbd7 7 f3 e6 8 Qd2 Be7 9 0–0–0 Qc7 10 h4 b5 11 Bd3 0–0 12 g4 Ne5 13 Kb1 b4 14 Nce2 a5 15 Ng3 Ba6 16 Nh5 Nxh5 17 gxh5 Nxd3 18 cxd3 Bxg5 19 hxg5 Qb6 20 Qe3 Rac8 21 g6 h6 22 Rde1 fxg6 23 hxg6 Rf6 24 Rhg1 e5 25 Nf5 Qxe3 26 Rxe3 Kf8 27 d4 Rxf5! 28 exf5 exd4 29 Re6 Bd3+ 30 Ka1 Bxf5 31 Rxd6 d3 32 b3 Ke7 33 Rd4 Rc2 34 Rd1 Kf6 35 Rc4 Rxc4 36 bxc4 Ke5 37 Kb2 Kd4 38 Kc1 Kc3 39 c5 Bd7 40 f4 a4 41 Rd2 a3 42 f5 Bxf5 43 c6 b3 44 axb3 Kxb3 45 c7 a2 46 Rxd3+ Bxd3 47 c8Q a1Q+ 48 Kd2 Qd4 49 Qf8 Bc4+ 0–1