Minorca's great chess prodigy, Paco Vallejo, was yesterday proclaimed World Under-18 Chess Champion after winning the championship held in Oropesa del Mar over the weekend. Of the eleven matches the Minorcan played he only lost one but the crunch matches were against Hua Ni of China on Sunday and yesterday's final encounter against Ehsan Ghaemaehami of Iran. The Minorcan, born in Es Castell on August 21, 1989, becomes the first Spaniard to win a world title since the middle of the 16th century when Ruy Lopez, who founded the theory of modern chess, was considered the best player in the world. Vallejo first became an international master at the age of 13 and a grand master by the age of 17. He has played in 11 infant and juvenile world championships, won two silver medals and finished in the top ten on nine occasions. Vallejo said yesterday he is “very, very happy” to have won. The Minorcan was proclaimed world sub-champion in the Under-10 age group when he was only eight, but he said yesterday that this latest title is the “most important” of his career to date. Now he has his sights set on the Chess Olympics in Instanbul where he will play as Spain's number two chess player and he hopes to “put in a good performance.” Vallejo will take the place of Miguel Illescas who is currently in London training Vladimir Kramnik ahead of his showdown with Gari Kasparov for the World Title. Vallejo said yesterday that he is very comfortable with his game at the moment and his confidence is running high, but at the moment he has not made any long term plans about his future, neither personally nor professionally.

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