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Portal Independiente de Información Financiera

Martes, 11 de Agosto de 2020



León. 12:30 p.m. Venue: Hotel Conde Luna. Event: the prize-giving ceremony of the XXIX edition of the Magistral. Players, sponsors, politicians, businessmen and the media, all of them meeting there; and at the back of the hall, close to a great door made of glass dividing the main hall and the dining room, there stood a man unknown for most of them. Tall, abundant and white hair, beige jacket, grey chapiri in his left hand and his face hidden behind brown, thick horn-rimmed glasses. About the age of 80. Serious face, but very attentive to what was said around him while scanning sparingly the faces of those present. He took some photograhps with a Leika that must have belonged to Robert Capa. He was holding a notebook with his free hand; in the other, his hat. From time to time he painted on the notebook with vigorous strokes or drew a quick caricature.


I was observing him from a safe distance. At first he didn’t notice me, but after ten minutes or so he turned and came slowly to me. He stretched out his hand, a hand similar to that of Thutmose IV, and with a British accent snapped at me:

            ‘What’s missing here is a music band and high-ranking representatives of chess, wouldn’t you say?’

            I watched him hesitantly.

            ‘Why?’, I replied.

            He turned his head and pointed with his notebook to the protagonists of the act. 

            ‘This wouldn’t happen in North America. I’ve been tracking this tournament in the twenty nine years of its lifespan, I know the players and organisers – though they don’t know me by the way – and I can say that if we had a chess event like this, over a quarter of a century old and a with such a players’ record, there wouldn’t be paper in the world to announce it; nor media, nor official national and international institution without a representative right here. And, of course, with the highest honors, even with a music band, and player’s and host country’s flags, and the FIDE President next to his Spanish counterpart, TV, radio, and all other media. Indeed, I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself. I’m William Leighton from Boston. I’ve been a specialist reporter, chess player, and now a traveler coming from USA to know the how’s and why’s of this tournament success. A tournament that, if I may, should also be organised in America’.

            ‘Well’, I replied shyly after such a brainstorming, ‘organisers have planted the seed in Latin America. Mexico has organised similar events run by the same organisers. And regarding your other remarks, the fact is that we are more modest to carry out everything you say, but no less effective. The specialised media from five continents divulge it, FIDE knows it very well and the music band can be subtituted by a canned, adequate but lacking of prestige, Pomp and Circunstance. The Magistral life’, I went on, ‘is long. Thirty years are a legacy for any event and the best players in the modern chess history have passed through León. For the elite members of chess, León is like a pilgrimage to Mecca. And just like Anand pointed out jokingly to me, “he who does not play in León, does not exist”. And I agree with him.

            I tell you, Mr. Leighton, we have a few things in common, but in organising high-ranking tournaments… forgive my immodesty, we are giving you lessons. Since otherwise it’s hard to understand how you do not organise something like this taking into account the wealthy sponsors, means and potential you have. You are not short of money nor ideas, I see, and places… North America is a big one, isn’t it? I humbly think we are top leaders in generating ideas about arousing multimillonaire events, in producing grandmasters – you can see Santos – and in drawing the attention of the main media and of significant people like yourself who travel for thousand of miles to get a close look at this tournament. A tournament which has been painfully held by all organisers, especially by its headmaster Sión, for thirty years. I sincerely believe that regarding your presence here in León and both your knowledge and wisdom, what you will write about us can ensure at least other thirty years for the tournament. It is confirmed we are on the right track, Mr. Leighton. I am at your disposal for whatever you need. It’s been a real experience talking to you. Thank you for coming and take heart for the next year; maybe we’ll have got a music band and even a choir to celebrate the 30th anniversary’.

The fine gentleman shook his head in a sign of conviction and resignation while saying ‘if I live…’ And walking slowly he went away towards the back door, disappearing like Lawrence in the Sinai Desert.


Translated by Maikel A. Nepomuceno