Saturday, December 25, 2004

The chess of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Turk

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

POLEON was a chess addict who played the game throughout his life. He played chess while still a boy, at college, in manhood, aboard a ship, in camp, in bivouac. He played while in Egypt, Russia, while in exile in Elba and finally on his final resting place on that lonely island in the Atlantic, St. Helena. He even said that he sometimes maps out his campaign based on certain positions of the pieces on the chessboard.

It has been said of him that “He was an able chess player and the human race was the opponent to whom he proposed to give checkmate.”

As a player he reportedly had bad manners. As an absolute monarch, he required all his friends to sometimes stand for five consecutive hours watching him play chess. He also became impatient if his opponent took a long time to make his move.

He was what is called a romantic player – an aggressive kind of play and fond of sacrifices. He was also sore and irritable in defeat although it is presumed that his favorite opponents would let him win just a little bit more.

Incidentally, scientists have refuted the story that Napoleon was murdered due to the high level of arsenic found in his hair. The experts believe that the emperor had absorbed the toxin over a long period of time from such things as ash, glue or wood fire and the like. Most experts agree that he died of stomach cancer. This will no doubt clear Count Charles de Montholon who was suspected of giving the poison.

In the early years of the nineteenth century, Napoleon was the most powerful person on Earth. He had taken almost all of Europe and was on his way to becoming the greatest conqueror of all time. This was also the height of the industrial revolution and all kinds of mechanical devices were invented including the flying balloon. If man can invent a machine to fly, why not a machine that can think?

This is where the “Turk” comes in. Invented earlier by Baron Wolfgang Von Kempelen, a genius of great renown in the field of mechanics, it was promoted as a chess-playing machine and all of Europe swallowed it line, hook and sinker, including Napoleon. He challenged the Turk to play against him.

As the whole court watched, he made a few illegal moves and the Turk shook its head every time. Napoleon laughed and they started to play. In the first game the Turk defeated him in 19 moves.

Napoleon placed a magnet on the chessboard before the second game because he had heard that the Turk relied on magnets for its operation, but the Turk still won. Before the third game, Napoleon wrapped a shawl around the Turk’s head and torso, thinking there might be an operator hidden inside.

But the Turk won a third time, at which point Napoleon swept the chess pieces to the floor and walked out.

At the conclusion of the games, the cabinet doors were opened to show that no one had crawled inside to operate the Turk. Audience reaction ranged from skepticism to amazement to sheer fright at such an unholy power.

The Turk itself was four feet long, three feet high and two feet deep and consisted of a large cabinet containing springs, pulleys, gears and wheels that looked like the inside of a clock, a chess board on top, and sitting on a chair at the back of the cabinet was the upper body of a figure draped in Oriental grab, wearing a turban, holding a long Turkish pipe in one hand and playing the game with the other.

It is considered as the most famous illusion in history.

Tabada Grand Prix Winner. In a battle among 12 qualifiers, Jobannie Tabada prevailed over the group to emerge Cepca 2004 Champion last Sunday at the Handuraw Learning and Leisure Café. He defeated Dante Arguelles in a nail-biting final match-up to win the championship trophy plus an Imarflex appliance set.

Third place went to Maggi Dionson while fourth was Mandy Baria and fifth Joe Atillo. All the winners won various kinds of Imarflex appliances.

In a side tournament, Victor Sepulveda won the Christmas tournament followed by second placer Bong San Pascual, Jun Olis and Gonzalo Tumulak. They also won appliances.

Among the tournament participants were Anders Berg and Roar Sorensen, who came all the way from Norway, and National Master Bombi Aznar. We were also honored by the presence of Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who accepted his certificate as honorary member of Cepca.

Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The German plays chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

EINSTEIN’S puzzle again drew quite a number of responses from our readers, and the correct answer is the German plays chess. If you want to know what the puzzle is, check our column last week.

Those who answered correctly and thus belonging to the elite two percent are: 1) Jason Cabahug – a medical doctor specializing in Internal Medicine at North General Hospital, who loves basketball, tennis and chess. 2) Eloise Danoit – a fine arts student of the University of the Philippines, her dad was able to answer the puzzle also when it appeared in the Reader’s Digest sometime ago.

3) Joel Atillo – presently a jeepney driver and an avid fan of Bobby Fischer 4) Michael Lourds D. Clitar – a student of Trade Tech International Science Institute taking up Computer Technology. 5) Gemma Mendoza – a graduate of Computer Engineering in USC from Liloan.

6) Nick Torres – 55 and a born-again Christian 7) Samantha Niña Malinao of Liloan, a B.S. Accountancy student in her senior year at USC 8) Asencio Cadampog and Ma. Candice Y. Cadampog of White Hills Subdivision, Banawa 9) Ernesto S. Abines Jr., 31, born in Surigao, a certified public accountant and also a fourth-year law student presently connected with Philexport Cebu. 10) Rai Cuenca and his sister Rain – both fine arts students of USC.

Here is the answer to the puzzle as written by Yvonne Mae Ygbuhay.

1) We know that the Norwegian lives in the first house to the left, making the house next to it (or the second house) the blue house. Since the owner who drinks milk lives in the middle house (or the third house), we can be sure that the green house is the fourth house, with the white house to its right making it the last from the left. Knowing these, it is safe to say that the first house is yellow house and the red house the one in the middle.

2) We learn that the Norwegian smokes Dunhill, and his neighbor plays bridge. Knowing that the owners of red and green houses drink milk and coffee, respectively, it is then safe to say that the owner of the blue house smokes blend, making his neighbor, the Norwegian, the water-drinker.

3) Since the man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer, then he owns the white houses. This leaves the tea-drinking Dane the blue house. With the Brit occupying the red house, the German who smokes prince then lives in the green house. So, the Swede who plays scrabble owns the white house.

4) Knowing the brands of cigarettes the four other men smoke, we learn that the Brit is the one who smokes Pall Mall and therefore, plays dominoes. The Norwegian, who lives next-door to the blend smoker, is therefore the one who plays checkers. Who then plays chess? The German.

Yellow Blue Red Green White
Norwegian Dane Brit German Swede
Water Tea Milk Coffee Beer
Dunhill Blend Pall Mall Prince Blue Master
Checker Bridge Dominoes Chess Scrabble

CEPCA GRAND FINALS. One of the most awaited local chess events this year is the Cepca Grand Finals on Sunday at the Handuraw Learning and Leisure Café in Mabolo starting 1:30 p.m.

The finalists are Mandy Baria, Jonard Labadan, Dante Arguelles, Loy Minoza, Felix Salve, Joe Atillo, Jojo Muralla, Gerry Rallos, Fred Sandalo, Maggi Dionson, Santago Peque and Jobannie Tabada.

Tournament registration is P100 and Christmas party contribution is P200.

There will also be a side tournament among non-qualifiers together with some invited lady varsity players. Here is some good news-our fellow Cepcan from Norway, Anders Berg, is arriving just to play in our tournament together with another Cepca member, Roar Sorensen. Anders is following all the activities of our club in Norway thru the Internet.

Watch out for our match with the Oroquieta Executives Club and also with the Makati Executives Club. We are finalizing arrangements with Rey Urbiztondo of Oroquieta and Jenny Mayor of Manila.

COLETO ITAAS. The 2nd Coleto Itaas Memorial Chess tournament will start tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Format is active, seven-round Swiss system, and total prize money is P5,000.

Registration is P60. The tournament is sponsored by Woman National Master NM Susan Itaas in honor of her father.

CHESSMOSO TRIVIA. For those who are trivia fans, I now have my own trivia website. Questions are all about mixed sports, not just chess. Log on to www. and play trivia everyday.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

The chess of Albert Einstein and his puzzle

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Sometime ago, the editors of Time Magazine came out with a list of the most influential persons in history and it was quite controversial at that time because the No.1 choice of the editors and historians was Mohammed instead of Jesus Christ.

Also on the list, in fact listed as among the top 10 were Sir Isaac Newton, who if I recall correctly, was No.3, and Albert Einstein listed at No.6 or 7. Both Newton and Einstein are chess devotees.

I will not dwell on the scientific achievements of Einstein (1879-1955) as these are well known.

What is not known is that he was a chess player and a close friend of World Chess champion Emmanuel Lasker.

They shared an apartment in Berlin in the 1930s and Einstein had an enormous respect for his older friend, certainly for good reasons. Lasker had a Ph.D. in mathematics and was a well-rounded personality at home in philosophy, history and the sciences.

Lasker thought that Einsten’s theory of relativity was wrong and that the speed of light was limited due to particles in space and that there is no perfect vacuum.

Einstein first learned to play chess in Munich and told a reporter once that he played chess as a boy. He was probably most active in playing chess in the 1920s and was thrilled when he met Lasker in 1927.

Einstein was an average chess player, which may come as a surprise as his IQ was in the 180s.

This can be explained that there are different kinds of high IQ. There is a musical IQ, literary, math, creativity and spatial IQ.

Bobby Fischer had a high spatial IQ of 187, and most great chess players belong to this category.

Einstein, Newton and other men of science have either high math or creativity IQ. Bethooven, Mozart and other greats belong to the musical, while Shakespeare is an example of the literary IQ.

When Hitler came to power in 1933 there was a general hatred of Einstein and the Jews and he fled Germany to settle in the USA. He accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

He was quite active in chess at this time as he played with neighbors, friends and even taught some children to play. He also played games with Robert Oppenheimer, later scientific director of the Manhattan Project that produced the first atomic bomb, and Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb. What an explosive trio.

CEPCA NOVEMBER. The winner for this month’s tournament last Sunday was the youngest member of the club, Jobannie Tabada of Sun.Star Cebu, while second was our lady guest Therese Gonzales, and third was retired engineer Felix Salve. We also welcome a new member to the club, dentist Ramon Pangilinan.

Congratulations also to Jessa Marie Balbona for winning the Elementary chess championship in the last Cebu City Olympics.

EINSTEIN’S PUZZLE. Below is a quiz written by Einstein. He said 98 percent of the people in the world cant’ solve the quiz. Are you among the other two percent?

Facts: 1) There are five houses in five different colors. 2) In each house lives a person of different nationality. 3) No two owners play the same game, smoke the same cigar, or drink the same beverage.

Further details: 1) The Brit lives in a red house. 2) The Swede plays Scrabble. 3) The Dane drinks tea. 4) The green house is immediately left of the White house. 5) The owner of the green house drinks coffee. 6) The person who smokes Pall Mall plays dominoes. 7) The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill. 8) The man living in the center house drinks milk. 9) The Norwegian lives in the first house to the left. 10) The man who smokes Blend lives next to the man that plays Checkers. 11) The man who plays Bridge lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill. 12) The owner who smokes Blue Master drinks beer. 13) The German smokes Prince. 14) The Norwegian lives next to the blue house. 15) The man who smokes Blend has a neighbor who drinks water.

NOW WHO PLAYS CHESS? Write and prove your answer and send it to Handuraw Café along M. J. Cuenco Ave., Mabolo (beside Kahayag Café) or e-mail me, and your answer will be printed in my next columns.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Unusual chess terms

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

EVERY chess player knows what a double check means or for that matter the definition of a bad bishop or a backward pawn. But do you know what a buried piece is or a capped pawn? We will define unusual chess terms in this article that even avid chess players don’t know about.

Buried piece – a piece hemmed in by friendly pieces and pawns. Such a piece will have difficult time actively participating, and may also interfere with the development of other pieces.

Capped pawn – a marked pawn which a player engages to deliver checkmate, in giving extreme odds to a weaker opponent.

Echoes – two functionally identical positions on the same board, one the mirror image of the order, due to the arrangement of the defender’s pieces being effectively symmetrical. This allows the same attack to be made down either side of the board.

Focal point – a weak square near the enemy king. This is targeted by the attacker, and the defender may find it difficult to protect. More than one focal point makes an attack stronger.

Ghost – threats created in the mind of inexperienced players due to lack of confidence of fear of their opponent.

Romantic – A romantic player is one who enjoys attacking and sacrificing.
Sansvoir – French for “without seeing.” Playing chess blindfold.

Interpose – placement of a piece between an attacking enemy queen, rook or bishop, and the pieces being attacked.

Luft – German for “air.” Moving a pawn so the king has an escape square to prevent back-rank mates.

Zietnot – German for “time trouble.”

Decoy – 1) The offering of material in order to get an enemy piece to move. 2) The lure of an opponent’s piece to a square that is particularly vulnerable.

Deflection – A tactic which forces an opponent piece from a square where it had to be, either because it was defending a piece or square or because it was blocking a threat.

Destructive sacrifice – sacrificing material to destroy the pawn cover or other protection around the enemy king. Usually a point of no return.

Hole – a square that is undependable by pawns. Such a square serves as an excellent home for enemy pieces, especially the knight.

Petite combination – a combination involving only a few moves and often only one tactical theme.

Poisoned pawn – a pawn that, if captured, would cause serious disadvantage to the capturing side.

MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL OPEN. International Master Ronald Bancod was the clear winner in this rich tournament held in Oroquieta City last Nov. 20-21 with 8.5 pts in nine rounds to win P30,000. At No.2 was National Master Alex Milagrosa and No.3 was Manila-based Cebuano, IM Richard Bitoon. Other cebuanos who were in the money circle were NM Cyril Ortega and Voltaire Sevillano.

Meanwhile, Joyce Lagrosas won the Lapu-Lapu Fiesta Chess Tournament last Saturday follwed by Carlito Santos and Cepcan Jojo Muralla at second and third, resectively.

YOUNG MASTER. One of the most promising chess player in the Philippines today is 11-year-old Wesley So, who has won 12 kiddies tournaments, including the grand finals of the Shell National Active Chess Championship. He also won the gold medal in the 12-Under Asean Chess Tournament and made a respectable showing in the eliminations to the Chess Olympiad.

Although he did not qualify, he defeated five NMs, including IM Chito Garma in the last round. “He has talent. He is a positional player, who can be tactical if the situation demands it. He is forming his own style, and character will play a big part,” says Eugene Torre, Asia’s first GM.

CEPCA NOVEMBER TOURNAMENT. Our tournament for this month will be held at the Handuraw Learning and Leisure Café along M. J. Cuenco Ave. in Mabolo (beside Kahayag Café) on Sunday at 2 p.m. This will be the last elimination tournament prior to the grand finals in December.

We are inviting the following lady chessers to participate: Therese Gonzales, Sunshine Lacorte, Jenny Rose Palomo and Jessa Balbona.

Those who have already qualified for the grand finals are Dante Arguelles, Santiago Peque, Jonard Labadan, Loy Minoza, Joe Atillo, Maggi Dionson, Fred Sandalo, Mandy Baria, Jojo Muralla and Gerry Rallos.

I maybe a little bit biased but the pizza in Handuraw is out of this world! You should try it.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Misamis Occidental Open

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

CHESS players from all over the country are now gathering in Oroquieta City for the Misamis Occidental National Open Tournament scheduled Nov. 20-21, which features P70,000 in prize money. The champion will win P30,000.

About 20 masters will be coming from Manila led by Grandmaster Eugene Torre and International Masters Chito Garma, Barlo Nadera and Richard Bitoon.

A crack selection of Cebuanos left yesterday composed of National Masters Leonardo Alidani, Voltaire Sevillano, Carlos Cabuenos and Cyril Ortega. Other members of the group are Harold Diano, William Retanal, Eden Diano, Adonis Buenaventura, Francisco Abugho, Irwin Ababat, Carlito Flores, Richard Natividad, Ceferino Vizco and Jobannie Tabada.

Dropping by our house last Monday on their way to Oroquieta were NM Eduardo Agagon and Jenny Mayor, a five-time RP Executive Grand Prix champion and executive director for Countryside Chess Development of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Jenny and I together with Cepca president Jun Olis discussed the possibility of a match and tournament between Cepca members and our Metro Manila counterparts early next year preferably during the Sinulog.

PHILIPPINE OLYMPIC COMMITTEE. The rejection by the POC of the chess federation’s application towards becoming a full-time member is ill-advised and is a reflection of their wrong priorities.

Chess is one sport that Filipinos can excel as shown by our performance in the last Olympiad, where we placed ahead of our Asian rivals China and Vietnam. We even performed better than powerhouse England and several other European countries.

Also, this year we had two new grandmasters, Nelson Mariano II and soon to be Super-GM Mark Paragua. What have the other sports accomplished?

They probably don’t realize that chess will be included for the first time in the 2006 Qatar Asian Games.

PEPSI CHESS TEAM TOURNAMENT. Pepsi Cola Products Phils. Inc held a chess team tournament among its employees at the Alta Vista club house in Pardo last Sunday.

Four teams participated in the tournament; namely Green Team composed of members Eric Gonzales, Bob Inocian, Harold Torregosa, Roldan Balansag; Orange Team with members Teddy Pardillo, Oliver Go, Edward Francisco, Julius Codilla; Blue Team with members Prix Fernandez, Welza Loga, Bobby Ylaya, Joseph Zamora; and White Team made up of Wenceslao Wenceslao, Quitos Ruiz, Jason Andrade and Edwin Balcita.

The champion was Green Team with 11 points followed by White with 7.5 points and third was Blue with four points.

CEPCA VS LADIES SELECTION. The much-awaited clash between selected lady varsity chess players and members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association took place last Sunday at the Handuraw Leisure and Reading Café in Mabolo, with the older counterparts prevailing, 29-11.

The guest of honor was our Hon. Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who gave an inspirational talk. Mike himself is a good chess player although he lost a drawish game to high school standout Jenny Rose Palomo. Jenny was the Most Outstanding Athlete in the chess event in the recent Milo Little Olympics, so our Vice- Mayor has nothing to be dismayed about.

Here are the complete results: Bombi Aznar-Therese Gonzales (USJ-R), 1.5-0.5; Norway Lara-Sunshine Lacorte (USJ-R), 1-1; John Catayas-Jellyn Villarin (USJ-R), 2-0; Mer Fernandez-Sofia Balite (CNU), 2-0; Fred Sandalo-Sherllina Gumapon (UC), 1.5-0.5; Michael Rama-Jenny Rose Palomo (USJ-R), 0-1; Maggi Dionson-Jenny Rose Palomo (2nd game), 1-0; Rene Casia-Sarah Jane Letigio (USJ-R), 2-0; Gerry Tomakin-Angelie Giangan (ANS), 0.5-1.5.

Felix Balbona-Maricor Loyola (USC), 2-0; Jojo Paredes-Glaiza Garcia (USC), 2-0; Serg Borres-Ma. Theresa Letigio (ANS), 1-1; Luis Minoza-Jessa Balbona (CIC), 2-0; Fabio Abucejo-Marete Serentas (ANS), 1-1; Felix Salve-Ryldonna de los Santos (ANS), 2-0; Tony Cornejo-Bernadette Villamor (ANS), 1-1; Gian Carlo Baria-Lyndace Mentupa (UC), 0.5-1.5; Jonard Labadan-Lorie Mae Seno (UC), 2-0; Andy Aquino-Margrace Gacang (UC), 1-1; Mandy Baria-Cherille Brocoy (CIT), 2-0; Vic Nator-Jennyfer Lyn Abejan (UC), 1-1.

The event’s major sponsor was Jose Ng, former president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while the rest of the sponsors were International Pharmaceutical Industries, Bombie Aznar and Gerry Tomakin.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Elo ratings

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

ELO is not an abbreviation like Fide or RP, but is actually the name of a person, Arpad Elo (1903-1992), a Hungarian-born American physics professor, who developed a rating system for calculating the relative skill levels of players in two-player games such as chess.

In short, it is your chess IQ. A player rated 2500 and above is likely to have a grandmaster title and a player rated above 2400, an international master title.

Fide Masters normally have a rating of 2300, National masters 2200, experts around 2000 and strong club players between 1800-2000. An average club player has a rating of 1400-1700, while beginners start at 900.

As of the latest Fide ranking, all of the top 100 players in the world have ratings over 2600 with 15 players over 2700 and one, Garry Kasparov, at 2813.

Prior to the Elo rating system, the United States Chess Federation (USCF) used a numerical ratings system, developed by Kenneth Harness, in terms other than wins and losses. It was quite fair but in some circumstances gave rise to ratings, which some observers consider inaccurate.

Elo’s central assumption was that the performance of each player in each game is a normally distributed random variable.

Although a player might perform significantly better or worse from one game to the next, Elo assumed that the mean value of any given player changes slowly over time. Elo thought of the mean of a player’s random variable as that player’s true skill.

Elo’s system was adopted by the USCF in 1960 and by Fide in 1970.

Furthermore, subsequent statistical tests have shown that chess performance is almost certainly not uniformly distributed and weaker players have greater chances of winning. Therefore, the system as used by both USCF and Fide is based on logistic distribution, an improvement over that originally proposed by Professor Elo, although in deference to him, it is still called the Elo system.

The formula to calculate a player’s new rating is based on his/her previous rating and takes into consideration the skill of the opponent. The formula is R’ = R + C (S - E), where R’ is the new rating, R is the old rating, C is a constant, S is the score (1 for win , 0.5 for draw and 0 for loss) and E is the expected score of the player.

The constant is the maximum allowed adjustment per game and is placed at 16 points for masters and 32 for weaker players.

E is a little more complicated as it is the core of the Elo system. One can’t conclude that after a series of moves that his/her performance is 2350. Performance can only be inferred from wins, draws and losses and the playing strength of the opponent should be considered.

If player A has true strength RA and player B has true strength RB, the exact formula (using the logistic curve) for the expected score of player A is

Similarly, the expected score for player B is

Please note that EA + EB = 1

An example will help clarify. Suppose player A has a rating of 1613. He plays a five-round Swiss format and loses to a player rated 1609, draws with a player rated 1477, wins over a player rated 1388, wins again over a player rated 1586, and loses to a player rated 1720.

His actual score is (0+0.5+1+1+0)= 2.5. His expected score, using the formula above, is (0.506+0.686+0.785+0.539+0.351) =2.867.

Therefore his new rating is 1613+32 (2.5-2.867) = 1601

CEPCA VS. LADIES SELECTION. It’s all systems go for this once in a lifetime match on Sunday 1:30 p.m. at the Handuraw Café in Mabolo between selected lady varsity chess players and members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association Inc.

The members of the ladies selection are: Therese Gonzales, Angelie Giangan, Ma. Theresa Letegio, Marefe Serentas, Cherille Brocoy, Jenny Rose Chiong Palomo, Sarah Jane Letegio, Shiela Marie Alvarado, Mary Llenos, Lorie Mie Seno, Marygrace Jane Gacang.

Completing the ladies’ line-up are Jennyfer Lynn Abejan, Sherlina Gumapon, Jellyn Villarin, Maria Dyan Sofia Balite, Sunshine Lacorte, Maricor Loyola, Lyndace Mae Mentupa, Jessa Marie Balbona and Jocelyn Arnejo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

World’s top-rated players

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

THE World Chess Federation has just released its top players as of October 2005. Still retaining his No.1 spot is Garry Kasparov followed by Vishy Anand and current Classical World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. Fide champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov is surprisingly ranked only 47th.

The top woman player is still Judit Polgar while top junior is Teimour Radjabov, and top among girls is the beautiful Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia.

The world’s top 10 are: 1) Garry Kasparov, Russia-2813, 2) Anand Viswanathan, India-2781, 3) Vladimir Kramnik, Russia-2760, 4) Alexander Morozevich, Russia-2758, 5) Veselin Topalov, Bulgaria- 2757, 6) Peter Leko, Hungary-2743, 7) Michael Adams, England-2740, 8) Peter Svidler, Russia-2753, 9) Judit Polgar, Hungary-2728 10) Alexei Shirov, Spain-2726.

Top women: 1) Judit Polgar, Hungary-2728, 2) Xie-Jun, China-2569, 3) Antoaneta Stefanova, Bulgaria-2523, 4) Alexandra Kosteniuk, Russia-2508, 5) Maia Chiburdanidze, Georgia-2503, 6) Humpy Koneru, India-2503, 7) Chen Zhu, China-2494, 8) Tatiana Kosintseva, Russia-2493, 9) Xu Yuhua, China-2487, 10) Zhao Xue, China-2487.

Top juniors 1) Teimour Radjabov, Azerbaijan-2663, 2) Shakhiyar Mamedyarov, Azerbaijan-2660, 3) Andrei Volokitin, Ukraine-2652, 4) Ferenc Berkes, Hungary-2630, 5) Luke J. McShane, England-2629, 6) Hikaru Nakamura, USA- 2620, 7) David Navara, Czech Republic-2620, 8) Bu Xiangzhi, China-2615, 9) P. Harikrishna, India-2612, 10) Arkadij Naiditsch, Germany-2611.

Top girls 1) Alexandra Kosteniuk, Russia-2508, 2) Humpy Koneru, India-2503, 3) Tatiana Kosintseva, Russia-2493, 4) Zhao Xue, China-2487, 5) Nana Dzagnidze, Georgia-2484, 6) Nadezhda Kosintseva, Russia-2446, 7) Kateryna Lahno, Ukraine-2435, 8) Marie Sebag, France-2428, 9) Lela Javakhishvilil, Georgia-2423, 10) Ekaterina Korbut, Russia-2400.

Top Filipinos 1) Mark Paragua-2534, 2) Rogelio Antonio Jr.-2524, 3) Eugenio Torre-2518, 4) Rogelio Barcenilla-2507, 5) Nelson Mariano II-2464, 6) Buenaventura Villamayor-2463, 7) Idelfonso Datu-2457, 8) Enrique Paciencia-2449, 9) Yves Rañola-2449, 10) Ronald Dableo-2440.

With his extraordinary performance in his last three tournaments, Mark Paragua is now a full-pledged Grandmaster with an elo rating of just over 2600, the first Filipino to do so.

MIGHTY UC. The Cebu School Athletic Foundation Inc. chess tournament just concluded recently and sweeping both in the college and high school divisions was the University of Cebu. The other participants were University of San Jose-Recoletos, University of San Carlos, Cebu Institute of Technology and Don Bosco in the high school division.

Members of UC’s champion collegiate Men’s team were Rex Androe Cabungcal, Brian Patalingjug, John Nicole Cuyag and James Angelo Uy.

On the other hand, the winning Women’s team is made up of Lorie May Seno, Sherlina Gumapon, Jennyfer Abejan and Mar Grace Gacang.

The top Boys team is composed of Jimson Bitoon, Denver Ruaya, Jose Vano and Melchor Ottara while in the Girls squad are Jacel Bucog, Janina Ebrado, Michele Sagario and Rea Famat.

National Master Linky Yap was the director and arbiter of the tournament.

CEPCA VS. CEBU SELECTION. National Master Bombi Aznar, William Retanal, Ben Dimaano and Sun.Star Cebu sports editor Jobannie Tabada will lead the members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association against the Cebu Selection this Sunday at the Handuraw Leisure and Learning Café in Mabolo, located at the old Coaco Bldg., beside Kahayag Restaurant.

Heading the Cebu Selection are Anthony Makinano, Boy Abugho, Boy Alejandre, Irwin Ababat, Steven Yap, Carlito Santos, Gene Montesclaros, Therese Gonzales, Jenny Rose Palomo, Jun Sanchez, Bonjoe Lanorias, Bob Tojong and others.

Also playing for Cepca are Jojo Muralla, Gerry Tomakin, Alex Tolentino, Mer Fernandez, Felix Balbona, Norway Lara, Joe Atillo, Santiago Peque, Maggi Dionson, Dante Arguelles, Mandy Baria, Ely Berciles, Tony Cornejo, Gerry Rallos, Fred Sandalo, Fabio Abucejo, Bob Inocian, Loy Miñoza, Junard Labadan, Jun Olis and Danny Pestano.

Time control is one hour for each play to finish and each player will play two games handling both white and black pieces. Games will start at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Free Bobby Fischer

By Frank "Boy” Pestaño

I AM reprinting an appeal by World Chess Federation (Fide) president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov addressed to US President George W. Bush, now that he has just been re-elected, to pardon Bobby Fischer who has been in detention in Japan since July 13.

To recall, Bobby’s passport was cancelled by the US Government last year for reasons that are both unfair and ridiculous. After all these years why now? And why has he been in detention for over three months?. “He is under much stress and angry at the Japanese Government,” says his fiancée Miyoko Watai.

The first hearing was completed last Wednesday with both sides submitting evidence. The next hearing will be in January, which means more detention time for Bobby.

Bobby’s appeal for bail has been denied twice and a third is still pending.

If you want Bobby to be freed, log on to and affix your name and country. If you don’t have an Internet connection, call me at 233-8678 in the afternoon and I will place your name there.

“On behalf of the millions of chess players all over the world and on behalf of 164 National Chess Federations united under the flag, we write to seek your personal intervention, Mr. President, through the show of tolerance and leniency in dealing with the matter of the 11th World Chess champion, Mr. Robert James Fischer, now awaiting deportation orders to the United States from Japan.

“We all know that on August 1992, when Mr. Fischer agreed lo play a chess match against Boris Spassky in a privately organized and sponsored event outside the auspices of Fide in Yugoslavia, he violated US law and the international boycott of that country. The former world champion obviously thought that chess had no other limitations than the game itself and now more than 10 years later, he faces serious charges for his action.

“Like most geniuses, Mr. Fischer is not always easy to communicate with.

Furthermore, some of his actions and statements are not necessarily in accordance with established norms and traditions. However, we would like to remind you, Mr. President, that the former world champion successfully represented the United States on many occasions during his chess playing career and that in 1972, he single-handedly took upon himself the fight of the free world when he brilliantly captured the world chess championship crown from the Soviet world champion Boris Spassky in Reykjavik.

“Mr. President, I have been privileged to discuss the impact of Fischer’s achievement with the then secretary of state of the United States, an avid chess player, Dr. Henry Kissinger, who personally took charge of negotiations surrounding the Reykjavik match.

“From Fischer’s actions since Reykjavik, when he turned himself into a virtual recluse, it is possible to postulate that he is not very well and as he is now seeking sanctuary far from his motherland. We kindly urge you, Mr. President, to let the matter lie. At the same time we would like to point out that in today’s world, eccentricity and challenge to established norms as well as behavior which is different from the majority of the people, should be subject to benign moral and social judgments rather than criminal prosecution.

“We thank you for your understanding in this delicate matter.

“Yours sincerely, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.”

The latest development on this unusual case is that Bobby‘s lawyer may file a lawsuit in the US.

“There are some grotesque abuses of government power, violations of due process and human nights and I would say an utter waste of US taxpayers’ money in prosecuting Bobby Fischer,” Fischer’s US lawyer, Richard Vattuone, told a news conference in Tokyo.

A lawsuit could be filed challenging the constitutionality of the order to arrest Fischer.

Ladies’ selection vs Cepca. The Cebuana woodpushers selection made up of varsity chess players from various schools will play with the members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) on Nov.14 at the Handuraw Leisure and Learning Cafe in Mabolo at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Strange but true

By Frank "Boy” Pestaño

IN 1918, the famous chess player Ossip Samoilovich Bernstein (1882-1962), a Hungarian grandmaster, was arrested in Odessa by the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, and scheduled for execution. As he was about to be executed by firing squad, the commanding officer asked to see the list of the prisoners’ names, and seeing Bernstein’s name, demanded whether he was the grandmaster of the same name. When Bernstein said yes, the officer challenged him to a chess match and told him he would be freed if he won.

And win he did easily and thus his freedom. He then fled on a British ship and settled in Paris.

During World War II, the US Navy enlisted world champion chess player Reuben Fine to calculate – on the basis of positional probability – where enemy submarines would most likely surface. When Fine was asked of the results, he replied modestly, “It was successful.”

George Koltanowski, an American international master, played an exhibition that has never been duplicated ever since. He played 34 boards simultaneously…while blindfolded and won 24 games and didn’t lose a single game. This happened in Edinburgh in 1937.

Robert Fischer has an IQ of about 180 and became a grandmaster at the age of 15. Such was his memory that that he was able to memorize more than five minutes of dialog in a language which he had never spoken.

In September 1940, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin was playing chess with his wife when Russian troops burst in to arrest him. As he was being dragged away he called out to his wife “You win, I resign.” He was a Nobel Peace Prize winner and was once wanted as a terrorist with a $50,000 bounty on his head by the British in 1946 because of his fight for a Zionist homeland.

St. Charles Borromeo, who was Archbishop of Milan and canonized in 1610, was such a chess addict that he was once censured for playing and studying chess. “What would you do if you were busy playing and the world came to an end?” he was asked one day. “Continue playing,” he simply replied.

CHESS OLYMPIAD. As I have suspected, all is not well with our Men’s team in the Olympiad. Eugene Torre has claimed that Joey Antonio wants to play white in most of his games, which Joey has denied.

Now we are way behind in the standings despite demolishing Singapore in the 12th round, 3.5-0.5. The main culprit is the disappointing performance of Emmanuel Senador, who has not scored a single point in six games. His performance rating is an incredibly low at 1747, more like a club player than an Olympian.

The other players are doing relatively well. Torre, Antonio, Paragua, Gonzales and Laylo have performance ratings of 2559, 2634, 2553, 2555 and 2422, respectively.

Ukraine is a sure winner in the Men’s section with 34.5 points after 12 rounds followed by Russia and Armenia with 31 point each. The RP team has 27. There are two rounds left but it will be uphill from now on.

China is again reasserting its supremacy in the Women’s section with 27 pts followed by the Polgar-led USA and Georgia with 24 points. Our Women’s team has 17 points, with Joy Lomibao scoring only one point in her last four games.

LADY CHESS PLAYERS CHALLENGE CEPCA. In view of the successful Cepca vs. Cebu Selection match, lady varsity chess players from various schools banded themselves together and issued a challenge to the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association for a chess match as part of their training and also for fun.

As Cepca president Jun Olis said to the other club members, “How can we refuse?” The match is tentatively scheduled on Nov. 14 at the Family Park in Talamban.

DIONSON IS OCTOBER CHAMPION. Maggi Dionson won the October edition of the Cepca tournament last Sunday. First runner-up was Joe Atillo while third placer was Jojo Muralla.

As part of the club’s program, 17-year-old Therese Gonzales of the University of San Jose-Recoletos and child prodigies 11-year-old Jessa Marie Balbona and her nine-year-old brother Marq Gabriel were invited to participate in the tournament.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Chess player’s head explodes

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

AFTER the recent Cepca vs. Cebu Selection matches last week, a few of us gathered for dinner, and Jojo Muralla happened to mention an incident which happened during a Moscow tournament, wherein a chess player’s head literally exploded in the middle of a game.

I researched further on the matter and the source is the May 24, 1994 issue of the magazine Weekly World News, whose authenticity is questionable, but nevertheless, here are the details.

No one else was hurt in the fatal explosion but several players and some officials were sprayed with blood and brain matter when Nikolai Titov’s head suddenly blew apart. Experts later said that what happened was caused by a rare condition called Hyper-Celebral Electrosis or HCE.

“He was in deep concentration with his eyes focused on the board,” says his opponent, Vladimir Dobrynin. “All of a sudden his hands flew to his temples and he screamed in pain. Everyone looked up from their games, startled by the noise. Then, as if someone had put a bomb in his cranium, his head popped like a firecracker.”

HCE is extremely rare and only five people have died all over the world in the last 25 years. The most recent occurred in 1991, when psychic Barbara Nicole’s head burst.

Dr. Anatoly Martinenko, a neurologist who did the autopsy on the unfortunate chess player says, “HCE is an extremely rare physical imbalance. It is a condition in which the circuits of the brain become overloaded with the body’s own electricity. The explosion happens during periods of intense mental activity when lots of current is surging through the brain. Victims are normally highly-intelligent people with great powers of concentration. In a way, both Nicole and Titov were too smart for their own good.

Although there are probably more cases not officially reported, the chance of your head exploding is one in a billion, and you have more chance of getting hit by lightning unless you are a chess player.

KRAMNIK VS LEKO. Vladimir Kramnik retained the World Classical Championship by the skin of his teeth by winning the last game of the 14-game match to equalize the score at 7-7. According to the rules, all he needed was to tie the match.

The match was a quality one with most games full of innovations. Kramnik won the first while Leko won the fifth and eighth.

“I had to give everything to win against such an opponent. Peter Leko is an incredible defender. For me it was more difficult than my match against Kasparov,” said Kramnik after the game.

On the other hand, his 25-year-old challenger from Hungary said: “It was a very hard fight. In the end, it was not enough for me to win the title. I’m disappointed, but I’m looking forward to the future. I’m 25-years-old, and I hope to get a new chance to become world champion.”

The match was sponsored by tobacco manufacturer Dannemann with a prize fund of one million Swiss francs or about $775,000 and was held in Brissago, Switzerland.

Kramnik will now play against the winner of the forthcoming match between current world No.1 Garry Kasparov and Fide champion Rustam Ka-simdzhanov, which will be held in Dubai this coming Jan. 7-24.

CHESS OLYMPIAD. Despite all the problems the RP teams encountered, they arrived on time in Majorca for the opening ceremonies, thanks to Sec. Alberto Romulo for expediting their Spanish visas.

Here are the results thus far after round 5. The Men’s team won over Malta, 4-0; over Colombia, 2.5-1.5; lost to India, 3-1; won over Ireland, 3-1; and lost to Canada, 2.5-1.5.

The Women’s team lost to Cuba, 0.5-2.5; won over Malaysia and Finland by identical 2-1; and drew with Denmark and Estonia. By the way, the team has no reserve player, as Aices Salvador could not join the team for personal reasons.

After five rounds, Ukraine is leading in the Men’s division with 16.5 points, followed by Israel with 16 and Azerbaijan with 15, while our team is tied at 24t-35th with 12 points. China, meantime, is in a class of its own in the Women’s section with 14 points while our team has 7.5.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Chess vs. sex

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

“CHESS is better than sex.” This famous line by Bobby Fisher was controversial at that time and raised quite a few eyebrows.

Now, it is generally accepted that to some people the game is more enjoyable and more pleasant, and although you may not agree with us, there are a lot of chess widows out there who will swear and believe this.

Please don’t be offended by the following comparison between chess and sex as it is written in jest and the play of words is just to make you laugh.

First, there are hundreds of millions of mating positions in chess and they are always new compared to sex, which is limited. Also as soon as you finish a game you are ready for another one.

You don’t have to court your opponent and send chocolates and flowers before they agree to play.

You can drink, smoke and play chess simultaneously and your opponent never complains that you are moving too fast.

Even if you’re ugly you still get to play and ugly opponents don’t turn you off.

You can’t catch a disease from chess and still play even in old age. You can play with children or minors but in sex you can go to prison. Playing with the same gender is usually the case, but in sex it is an abomination.

Misplacing your pieces on the chessboard is at most inconvenient; in the bedroom it may be illegal. In chess, you can play with your clothes on and in public,. too.

And lastly, most players are satisfied with average size chessboards. We end this feature with a quote from John Barrymore, “Sex is the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble.”

CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE. “Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them…” best describes chess this week. To the right is the Kramnik vs. Leko Classical World Championship Match, to the left is the European Club Cup 2004, where most of the world’s top players collide, including Garry Kasparov, in front is the 36th World Chess Olympiad in Spain.

As the challenger, Peter Leko of Hungary needs 7.5 out of 14 games to take away the championship from Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. The match is being held at Centro Dannemann in Brissago, Switzerland and features a cash prize of one million Swiss francs or about $775,000.

After 11 games Leko is leading, 6-5, and needs to score only 1.5 points in the last three games to win the title. The winner of this match will challenge the winner of the Kasparov vs. Kasimdzhanov match for the undisputed Champion of the World title.

Meanwhile, there are 36 teams participating in the 2004 European Club Cup ongoing now in Cesme, Turkey, but only six teams are expected to be in contention.

To give you an idea of the strength of the players, here are the line-up of the first two teams: NAO Chess Club – Michael Adams (2740), Alexander Grischuk (2704), Etienne Bacrot (2718), Francisco Pons Vallejo (2678), Joel Lautier (2682), Teimour Radjabov (2663). Max Ven Ekaterinburg – Garry Kasparov (2813), Rafael Vaganian (2640), Aleksandrov Aleksej (2659), Konstantin Sakaev (2669), Alexander Beliavsky (2660), Alexander Motylev (2651).

The 36th Chess Olympiad, on the other hand, is being held in Calvia, Majorca, Spain starting yesterday until Oct. 31. The members of the RP Men’s team are Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio, Mark Paragua, Darwin Laylo, Emmanuel Senador and Jayson Gonzales while the Women’s squad is made up of Beverly Mendoza, Sherrie Joy Lomibao, Aices Salvador and Loreshyl Cuison.

There is a big problem though. As I write this, they don’t have Spanish visas yet and they are asking the help of foreign affairs Sec. Alberto Romulo. If ever they will arrive on time, which I doubt, they will probably be nervous wrecks by then.

KASPAROV VS. KASIMDZHANOV. Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has made an agreement with Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum of the UAE to hold the reunification match between Fide Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Garry Kasparov in Dubai this January.

The prize fund is reportedly $1.2 million.

MAN VS. MACHINE. The Biology vs. Electronics Team Championship has just been played in Bilbao, Spain. The biological team was composed of Bulgarian wold No.5 Veselin Topalov (2757) Ukrainian world No.13 Ruslan Ponomariov (2710) and compatriot Sergey Karjakin (2576), who became GM at 12.

The electronic marvels were Hydra, Deep Junior, the reigning computer champion, and Fritz 8.

The result was a disappointing 3.5-8.5 loss by the humans. Both Fritz and Hydra scored 3.5 out of four games while Deep Junior had a negative 1.5.

Topalov drew three games and lost one to Fritz. Ruslan drew and lost two games while Sergey lost three but was the only winner.

BALBONA SIBLINGS. In what is perhaps the first in the history of Philippine chess, a team composed of three brothers and a sister won a major tournament. The team won the Elementary division of the Milo Little Olympics last week representing Colegio dela Inmaculada Concepcion.

The team’s members were Marq Gabriel, Felix Shaun, John Francis and Jessa Marie. They are the children of Cebu Executive and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) member Felix Balbona. Congrats!

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Shields, Brando among others

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

HERE are some interesting information about well-known personalities who not only enjoy the game of chess but who also promoted it in their own way. It really makes you feel good that you share the same passion or hobby with them.

Kate Jackson of Charlie’s angels once admitted during a TV interview that she would rather play with her chess computer than watch TV or go out. Also, the late Ava Gardner was once described as not only having a killer of a face and body but also a killer chess player. When Mae West says “come up and see me sometimes” she probably meant to play chess or it could be her other hobby.

Morgan Fairchild, the sexy superstar loves to play chess and once hosted a charity event in Mexico in 1989 where Erik Estrada also played. The distinguished Spanish actor Jose Ferrer also plays well enough to play with Bobby Fischer. Bob Hope, the ultimate comedian once defeated Bobby Fischer in a simul but he took a few liberties with the rules.

You maybe surprised as I am to know that Brooke Shields was a member of the 1990 Chess World Championship Organizing Committee in New York where Steve Martin and Rick Moranis were constant visitors. Woody Allen wanted to join a chess team but according to him he was “too small.”

Marlon Brando is known as the Godfather of chess-playing actors, while Frank Sinatra the “Chairman of the Board” is also a force at the chess board.

Ivan Lendl reportedly took up tennis because he could not beat his father who was Czech Junior Champion and Sevy Ballesteros rarely does not let a week go by without playing a game or two. Steve Davis once traded chess and snooker stories with Anatoly Karpov.

Che Guevara was a chess player of master strength and his favorite whipping boy in the jungles was a guy named Fidel Castro. Leo Tolstoy once went to jail in the army because he was caught playing chess while on duty.

MISTAKE. The inclusion of Mark Paragua, who incidentally is our newest Grandmaster, Joey Antonio and Eugene Torre to the Philippine Olympiad team without passing through a qualifying tournament is unfair, unjust and a setback to promote chess in our country. What about our other GMs, Bong Villamayor and Nelson Mariano II, and our other good players? If the seeded players are really better, then they should have no problem in qualifying. But as it is they are afraid because they believe in their hearts that they might lose!

This reminds me of IM Walter Arencibia of Cuba who was our guest in Cebu during the Interzonals in 1990. He said that there were other grandmasters in Cuba including their champion but he was chosen as the representative because he defeated them in a qualifying tournament.

Anyway, the eliminations have just ended and the qualifiers are Darwin Laylo, Emmanuel Senador and Jayson Gonzales, thanks to 10-year-old Wesley So who upset IM Chito Garma in the last round.

$500,000 OPEN. The richest open tournament in the history of chess, the HB Global Chess Challenge, will take place in the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minnesota with a guaranteed prize fund of $500,000 including a cash prize of $50,000 to the winner in the open section. It will be held from May 18-22, 2005 and is expected to attract more than 4000 participants. The organizer of this tournament is Generation Chess, LLC, headed by its CEO Maurice Ashley, who is also the first black American grandmaster.

Here is a breakdown of the prizes:

Open: 1st place $50,000, 2nd $25,000, 3rd $12,500, 4th $7,000, 5th $3,500, 6th $2,000, 7th-20th $1,000 each, 21st-50th $500 each.

Rated 2300-2499: 1st $20,000, 2nd $10,000, 3rd $5,000. Under 2300:1st $20,000, 2nd $10,000, 3rd $5,000.

Under 2200, U2000, U1800, U1600: (Prize for each section) 1st $20,000, 2nd $10,000, 3rd $5000, 4th $2,500, 5th $1,500, 6th $1,000, 7th-20th $500 each, 21st-50th $300 each.

There are also substantial prizes for Under 1400 ($12,000, 1st place), U1200 ($10,000, 1st place), U1000 ($4,000, 1st place) and Unrated section ($2,000, 1st place).

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Lincoln, Jefferson and others

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

ABRAHAM Lincoln was a keen chess player and one of his chess sets is displayed in the Smithsonian. Whenever he played, he did not want to be disturbed even in the White house. Once while playing with Judge Treat, his wife told his son, Tad, to tell them that dinner was ready. When they still continued playing, Tad kicked the chess board off the table and the Judge was speechless but Lincoln said mildly “Come, Tad,” and they walked away to have dinner.

Thomas Jefferson was probably the most passionate to chess among American Presidents. He started playing in his 20s and owned several chess sets including a rare ivory set that got lost when he moved to Monticello.

When he moved to Paris in the mid-1780s he joined the Salon des echecs chess club and paid 96 francs. In his latter years he constantly played with Benjamin Franklin and told friends that they were of equal playing strength.

He also played marathon games with James Madison. He wrote an analysis on how to play an endgame with a rook and bishop against a rook.

George Washington may not have played chess but his victory over the British army was because of it. A spy had earlier given a report to the British commander that Washington was about to attack but he was playing chess and put the unread report in his pocket. The report was later found in his pocket, unopened, when he died in battle.

Other American Presidents who played chess were James Monroe who purchased chess books from Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, who also owned an ivory chess set, Rutherford Hayes, a strong player taught by his mother, and James Garfield, described in a chess column in Philadelphia as a first-rate player.

Theodore Roosevelt may have played Ajeeb the automaton and once invited foreign chess masters to the White House. One of Woodrow Wilson’s chess sets is also in the Smithsonian.

Jimmy Carter wanted to become a chess master when he left the White House and purchased numerous chess books and a computer chess program.

He finally gave up saying, “I found that I don’t have any particular talent for chess. I hate to admit it, but that’s a fact.”

Karpov/Polgar. Susan Polgar has won six Olympic medals including three golds, two silvers and one bronze while playing for her native Hungary. She is also a four-time world chess champion.

Anatoly Karpov is a former world champion and needs no introduction. He is considered by many as among the top 10 players of the modern era.

The two chess titans met recently in Linsborg, Kansas in the first-ever officially sanctioned match between a male and female world champion.

The match was six games consisting of two rapid (25 minutes), two Fischer random (15 minutes), and two blitz games (five minutes). Karpov won the rapid games by a score of 1.5-0.5, while Susan won the blitz games by the same score. The Fischer random was tied, so the final score was 3-3.

Kramnik/Leko. The match between classical world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Peter Leko of Hungary will start tomorrow in Brissago, Switzerland. The winner of this match will challenge the winner of Fide world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov versus Garry Kasparov match scheduled end of this year. The winner will then be declared the undisputed World Chess Champion.

Kramnik’s seconds are Grandmasters Evgeny Bareev and Peter Svidler of Russia and Miguel Illescas of Spain. Leko’s seconds are Grandmasters Vladimir Akopian and Arshak Petrosian both of Armenia and Vladislav Tkachiev of Russia. The seconds are crucial factors in one-on-one matches as they will advise, prepare and give all possible support to the protagonists before and during the match.

Cepca tournament. Winner of Cepca‘s September Tournament last Sunday at the Cebu Youth Chess Center was the mercurial Maggi Dionson followed by Santiago Peque, Marty Baria and Gerry Rallos. The top two monthly winners since the start of the series in June up to December will meet in the grand finals to be held before the year ends.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Julia Roberts, Humprey Bogart et al.

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

ACTRESS Julia Roberts of Pretty Woman and Erin Brokovich fame is reputedly a chess fanatic and has insisted upon chess sets being available on her trailer in all her films. She is said to be blessed with a calculating machine for a brain and can see a dozen moves forward. They say that if she takes timeout to play in tournaments she will give the favorites a run of their money.

Before becoming a movie star, Humphrey Bogart hustled strangers at five-minute chess for 50 cents a game in chess parlors in New York Times Square. In 1943 the FBI prevented him from playing postal chess, thinking the chess notation were secret codes. He was a tournament director of USCF and once drew a game against Samuel Reshevsky in a simultaneous exhibition. His Elo rating was 2100. He made 75 films and chess appears in several of his movies. He and his chessplaying wife Lauren Bacall appeared on the cover of Chess Review in 1945 playing with Charles Boyer. Among his famous movies are Casablanca and The African Queen.

Yoko Ono and her husband, the slain Beatles star John Lennon, were inveterate chess players and played against each other for relaxation. When the Edward Murrow High School team needed funds so it can participate in the state and national championship, Yoko donated a sum of $2,500 to the team. Yoko felt it funny or ironical that a school wouldn’t have money for something as educational as chess. The team was national championfrom 1992-1994.

Singer Barbra Streisand plays chess and is famous among chess players as a classmate of Bobby Fischer in grade school. However, Bobby is not kind to her. In a recent interview over radio in the Philippines when asked if Barbra was her classmate Bobby answered, “I’ve been asked about this. I remembered some mousy looking girl, maybe that was her, I don’t know.”

According to a co-movie actor, George C. Scott was addicted to chess. “Perhaps he was using it as inspiration for his character as a gangster.

We starred together for a few months and never exchanged more than a ‘Good morning,’ if that. He was very much in character, impeccable with his lines, but he only talked to his makeup man, his chess opponent. George would wander over to him after every camera setup to complete the chess move he must have decided on during our take.”

Senior Master Robert Snyder is the teacher of actors Will Smith and Nicolas Cage. Will, star of Men in Black and Independence Day started taking lessons in chess in 1998 while filming Enemy of the State. He regularly studies chess books and shows a lot of talent. Cage, star of The Rock and Face Off, says that he feels chess is good for kids and has included his son as a student of Snyder. Cage and Will are planning to enter chess tournaments in the US soon.

CEPCA INVITATIONAL. Last Saturday our club had a special tournament for members of equal playing strength to make the games more interesting and to give a chance to players of lesser caliber a shot at winning tournaments.

The tournament was for class A and B members only and was held at Handuraw Learning and Leisure Café in Mabolo. Subsequently, there will also be a tournament exclusively for class C and D members also.

The participants, divided into two groups of six, were Norway Lara, Bong San Pascual, Dante Arguelles, Maggi Dionson, Joe Atillo, Jun Catayas, Jun Olis, Fabio Abucejo, Junard Labadan, Marty Baria, Felix Balbona and yours truly.

The format was round robin play for each section, with the top two players advancing to the next round. The top four players then played a round robin among themselves. The surprise winner was Joe Atillo, followed by Dante Arguelles, Jun Olis and Maggi Dionson.

Congrats Joe!

SEPTEMBER TOURNAMENT. The next tournament for Cepca members is on Sept. 19 at the Cebu Youth Chess Center at 1 p.m.

As usual, the participants will be divided into four sections: Armadillo, Buffalo, Cobra and Dinosaur, with different time controls to compensate for different levels of skill.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Cepca through the years

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

I HAVE been writing about Cepca tournaments and members ever since the start of this column and it’s about time the chess playing readers learn more about this club. Cepca is the abbreviation of Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association Inc. and is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-stock, non-profit corporation. Its primary purpose is to serve the chess needs of its members and to promote the game in Cebu.

The club is affiliated with the National Chess Federation of the Philippines and has been in existence since 1990. It had its first meeting in the conference room of MCWD about middle of June that year and the founders were this writer, Art Ynclino, Sonny Sollano, Gerry Tomakin, Alex Tolentino, Nicnic Climaco and Danny Pestaño.

That year, the Interzonal of Fide was held in Manila and our initial plan was to invite some of the players to come to Cebu to perform simultaneous exhibitions. Since we were not fully organized yet, we approached the Cebu Lakandula Lions to help us since its president then was my brother, Danny.

Our initial plan was to invite Victor Korchnoi of Switzerland, Nigel Short and Eugene Torre.

However, we found out that our budget was not enough to accommodate these gentlemen, so those who came over instead were Eugene Torre, Jaime Sunye-Neto of Brazil, Walter Arencibia of Cuba and Carlos Juarez of Guatemala. It was quite a sensation in Cebu then and after that our membership exploded.

Among the new members were Loy Miñoza, Babes Andales, Damaso Uy, Rudy Aguinaldo, Bob Inocian, Tony Cornejo, Dongdong Almario and Serge Borres. We then held our first tournament and new members who joined were Bill Laviste, Edmund Suralta, Lito Pielago and Danish national Malte Lemvigfog.

Through the first two years, we reached a membership of over 60 and joined the Sinulog festival in all the categories: float, free interpretation and higante.

New members worth mentioning here were Rene Tolo, who is now in the US, and Jun Olis. We also sponsored the premiere showing of Terminator 2, Judgment Day, in partnership with the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers, Cebu Chapter.

GM TOURNAMENT. However the most important accomplishment of our club was the holding of the First Cebu Grandmasters Tournament in 1992 in association with Boojie Lim of the Cebu Chess Federation, then Fide President Florencio Campomanes and the Cebu Inter-Family Youth Association headed by Henry Uy-Hehiong and Kelly Uy. The foreign grandmasters who came over to Cebu were Ian Rogers of Australia, Dibyendo Barua of India, Ye Rongguang of China and Niaz Murshed of Bangladesh. They were joined by Philippine players Rogelio Antonio, Fernie Donguines, Banjo Barcenilla, Barlo Nadera and Rico Mascariñas.

Active members of the club worth mentioning through these years are British national Graham Maitland-Smith, Italian national Stelvio Guglielmi, Mer Fernandez, Bong San Pascual, Jun Catayas, Ely Berciles, Arwin Barrios, Rene Casia, El Labunog, Fred Sandalo, Norwegian Roar Sorensen, Pabs Argamosa, Andy Aquino and Vic Nator.

Past presidents of the club are this writer, Alex Tolentino, Gerry Tomakin, Ben Dimaano, Danny Pestaño, Ogie Reyes, Nicnic Climaco, Manny Manzanares, Norway Lara, Vic Legaspina, Bobot Villaluna and current president Jun Olis.

As of now Cepca has over 100 members although some are abroad, some are inactive, and a few have passed away like Migs Enriquez, Butch Loyola and the person nearest to our hearts, Sonny Sollano. If I were to name five top members of the club, Sonny would certainly be among them.

HUMOR. Here are some moments that you should sense danger while playing chess: 1) There has been a change in pawn structure. Your opponent has eight and you don’t have any; 2) your opponent begins to throw pawns at your eyes; 3) you have a won position but your opponent has a gun; 4) before the game begins you notice your opponent’s initials are “GM”; 5) your draw offer sends all the people watching your game into uncontrollable laughter.

Saturday, September 4, 2004

Bobby Fischer updates

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

TO RECALL, when Bobby agreed to play Boris Spassky for the second time in 1992 in Yugoslavia, he was warned by the State Department that he faced a possible fine of $250,000 or 10 years in prison or both. Yugoslavia was then under sanctions by the United Nations for its war in Bosnia. Bobby of course played the match against Spassky and now he is in deep trouble as the US is now after him and has cancelled his passport.

Last July 13, he was arrested at the Narita Airport in Japan while he was on his way to the Philippines and now faces a possible deportation to the USA and jail sentence.

MIYOKO WATAI. His supporters in Japan include John Bosnitch, a former US junior chess champion, long-time friend Miyoko Watai, who is a four-time Women Japanese champion, lawyer Masako Suzuki and Ichiji Ishii, a former minister of foreign affairs and founder of a chess club.

Their strategy is for Fischer to renounce his US citizenship, acquire German citizenship and/or marry Watai, who claims she and Fischer have been living together for several years now. Fischer supporters have submitted a certified copy of his birth certificate to the German Embassy in Tokyo, which indicates he was born to a German father, Hans Gerhardt Fischer. If Germany establishes his citizenship, then he would be deported to that country where there is no extradition treaty with the US regarding German nationals.

ANTI-AMERICAN. Fischer is also seeking the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for politically persecuted and stateless persons. After all, I believe that Bobby is being arrested now because of his anti-American ranting, his delight at what happened to the US on 9/11, which includes saying, “I want the US wiped out,” and calling George W. Bush “borderline retarded.”

Bosnitch has also informed the Japanese Government that Fischer and Watai have completed and signed the Japanese legal documents for marriage. ”If the officials were to deport Bobby, they would be depriving a Japanese woman of her man whom she has lived with for four years.”

However, the US State Department in a statement said that Fischer would not escape prosecution even if he renounces his citizenship and marries a Japanese.

“Renunciation does not allow a person to escape possible prosecution for crimes that they may have committed in the United States.” His best bet seems to be to acquire the German citizenship of his father. Already there is a large movement among chess players in Germany to free Bobby.

Last Aug. 24, the Japanese Justice Minister in a surprise move, issued an order to deport him that same day. However, Fischer’s lawyers filed a lightning appeal that will probably delay his deportation for a month on the grounds that his deportation would be a flagrant violation of his right and protection under Japanese law.

BABY GIRL. Although Watai seemed to be serious on their marriage, Bobby has a girlfriend named Justine, a 22-year-old Chinese-Filipina living in Manila with whom he has a baby girl born in 2000.

This has been kept secret by his close friends and this was probably the reason why Bobby was on his way to Manila as he “regularly sends money to Justine and their child and visits them every two months.” Bobby’s friends hope that this child will fill the void in his life that chess once occupied. Also, Justine doesn’t care so much about chess and has no intention of writing a tell-all memoir.

Bobby is a tormented soul. The death of his sister, Joan, with whom he was very close to, and his mother, whom he had reconciled with in the late 1990s, and not being able to attend their funeral were great blows to him.

He is not entirely repudiating the land of his birth. According to a long-time friend, Bobby will go home if he knew he would not be prosecuted. If ever he will be convicted, this will be the first time that a person will go to jail………for playing chess!!

Saturday, August 28, 2004

36th Chess Olympiad

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

OLYMPIC fever is now at its peak with the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece now at its tail end. It’s also time to look at the next international sporting event, which is the Chess Olympiad On Oct. 14-31 in Calvia, Majorca, Spain. The Majorcan borough of Calvia is located in the Balearic Islands west of the mainland and is famous for its casinos and beaches.

A total of 140 male and 100 female chess teams are expected to participate in this biennial event, the biggest so far in the history of the Olympiad, and the Philippines just might not be part of it.

The National Chess federation of the Philippines (NCFP) is hopelessly divided now and at this late stage cannot form a team. The ideal team should include all our grandmasters namely Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio, Bong Villamayor and Nelson Mariano II. Also to be included are IM Mark Paragua and World Championship qualifier IM Ronald Dableo or better still USA-based IM Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla.

A look at the Fide website also shows that Philippine players are not in the ratings list. I’ve contacted Casto Abundo, ratings administrator of Fide, and Eugene Torre on this matter but I didn’t receive any reply. A possible reason is we might have not paid our dues to Fide. If ever we cannot or will not participate, it will be a shame and a disaster for the Philippines in the international chess community since we have been participating in all Chess Olympiads since 1956. However, there is still time and I hope that everything turns out all right.

Our best showing was in Thessalonica, Greece in 1988 when we placed seventh among 107 countries. Since then our record has been dismal with 21st place in Novi Sad in 1990, 31st in Manila in 1992, 21st in Moscow in 1994, 26th in Elista, Kalmykia in 1998, 25th in Istanbul in 2000, and 39th in Bled, Slovenia in 2002.

Russia has won all male team events since 1952 in Helsinski with the exception of Buenos Aires in 1978, which was won by Hungary. Based on the July Elo ranking list, here are the top six countries for this coming Olympiad (Elo average is based on top four players): 1. Russia-2764 (Kasparov 2817, Kramnik 2770, Morozevich 2743, Svidler 2727) 2. Hungary-2682 (Leko 2741, Polgar 2728, Almasi 2644, Gyimesi 2618) 3. Ukraine-2678 (Ponomariov 2722, Ivanchuk 2715, Moiseenko 2640, Volokitin 2638) 4. England-2670 (Adams 2738, Short 2684, McShane 2643, Sadler 2617) 5. France-2657 (Bacrot 2712, Lautier 2666, Fressinet 2637, Thachiev 2615) 6. USA-2635 (Onischuk 2655, Seirawan 2631, Goldin 2624, Kaidanov 2621)

China is expected to dominate the Women’s event followed by Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria and the USA.

TOP CEBUANOS. Here are the top local players based mainly on the Rose Pharmacy chess tournaments: 1. NM Cyril Ortega 2230 2. NM Elwin Retanal 2225 3. Anthony Makinano 2225 4. NM Arnold Cadiz 2220 5. NM Leonardo Alidani 2200 6. NM Rogelio Enriquez 2200 7. Miguel Banibane 2194 8. Ramsy Pedroza 2131 9. Glicerio Pardillo 2125 10. Carlos Moreno III 2116. This list was furnished by Lingky Yap, arbiter and director of all major tournaments here in Cebu.

COLEGIO DEL STO. NIÑO ALUMNI. Tomorrow and Sunday are red letter days for all alumni of the school as it will be celebrating its centennial anniversary.

It will be a double celebration as it will also mark the Golden Anniversary of Class 1954. Several activities have been lined up including games, dinner and fellowship party tomorrow at the Pilgrim Center located inside the school. Holy Mass and registration starts at 8 a.m.

On Sunday, a baccalaureate mass starts at 5 p.m. at the Cebu Grand Convention Center on Arch. Reyes Ave. Dinner and activities to acknowledge all alumni of the school especially Class 1954 follows. Special awards will also be given to the outstanding alumni of the school. For more information, contact Danny Pestaño at 344-0289, Tony Valero at 255-0994 or Maning Villarosa at 261-7184.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Changing a light bulb, Pinoy style

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

IN my previous columns, I had been writing on the “serious” side of chess and it’s about time we look at its lighter side. Chess is such a rich game that it can be a parody in the life of a nation. It has its own sense of humor that can better be appreciated by chess players. Here are collected humor stories that I’m sure you readers will appreciate.

THE CHESS PLAYER. A guy comes home from the chess club and his wife starts nagging him. “The Chess Club again, that’s all you think about.

Chess! Chess! Chess! And more bloody chess! When was the last time you took me out?” “A, four Knights ago.” “A fortnight ago, and when was the last time you spoke to me?” “Two Knights ago.” “Two nights ago, and when was the last time you spent more than an hour with me – and don’t say three nights ago.” “I appear to be in Time Trouble.” “You are in trouble this time alright. And what were you up to last night? You kissed me and then went out.” “J’adoube.” “Speak English you swine. Tomorrow I’m locking the door and you wont be going out anywhere.” “Ill be in Zugzwang.” “Is John coming around tomorrow?” “I’ll have to check.” “I can’t stand it when he comes!” “But he’s my mate.” “What do you want for your supper?” “Fried Liver.” “Then you can fix the toilet, its blocked.” “I Khan do that.”

CHESS DOG. A man went to visit a friend and was amazed to find him playing chess with his dog. He watched the game for a while and said, “I can hardly believe my eyes!” he exclaimed. “That’s the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.”

“Nah, he’s not so smart,” the friend replied. “I’ve beaten him three games out of five.”

CHANGING A LIGHT BULB. Chess has its own rigid set of rules that has to be followed. You just can’t change anything unless you have the approval of everybody. Remember the first Fischer-Spassky match? Which brings us to the classic question: How many people at a chess tournament in the Philippines does it take to change a light bulb?

You need one to complain about the lighting. A second will say the light is okay. A third suggests that the tournament director be called and number four fetches him. The director (5) arrives and confers with the arbiter (6). An aged player (7) reminisces about the lighting in Cebu in 1970. A player (8) says that if they increase the lighting levels it will reflect into his eyes. Player (9) says they should have fluorescent lighting. Player 10 says it’s just a question of replacing a dead light bulb, and player 11 complains to the arbiter about the disturbance.

A politician (12) suggest taking a vote on whether to change the bulb but a journalist (13) protests. A businessman (14) forms a group called the Movement to Change the Light bulb or MCL as a pressure group to argue for better lighting. A priest (15) is elected chairman of MCL and he then forms a committee composed of a woman (16), farmer (17) and a student (18) to advice MCL on whether to change the light bulb. A leftist participant (19) has a row with the officers of MCL, resigns and then pickets the tournament premises. Finally the only sane Filipino left, an exasperated Juan de la Cruz (20) takes the matter into his own hands, sneaks inside to change the light bulb but is caught and is expelled screaming from the tournament hall.

GIO DEL SANTO NINO ALUMNI. We are calling the attention of all alumni of the Colegio del Santo Nino to attend the Centennial Celebration of the elementary school and Grand Alumni Homecoming in honor of Golden Jubilarian Class 1954 on Aug. 28-29.

Scheduled activities for Aug. 28 are Mass at 8 a.m. and registration at 9 a.m. There will be a short program in the afternoon, followed by dinner and a fellowship party in the evening. Venue is at the Pilgrim Center.

Activities for Aug. 29 are Eucharistic Celebration at 5 p.m. followed by a program to honor all alumni, dinner and dance. Venue is at the Grand Convention Center of Cebu.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Spassky to Bush

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

THERE are a lot of activities this month on the local level. Right off the butt was the Cepca vs. Lapu-Lapu Chess Club match on Aug. 1 at the Cebu Youth Chess Center. The warriors from Mactan won, 19-15. Winning both of their games for Lapu-Lapu were Joel Pacuribot, Aldwin Daculan, Rene Romero, Toto Sapa, Judy Tamala and Kristoffer Querubin. Double pointers for Cepca were Peterson Sia, Tony Cornejo and Carlos Moreno. This is the second time that both clubs met, the last time was in 2001, which was won by Cepca, then held at Foods and Fruits Restaurant.

Scheduled for Aug. 14-16 is the Rose Pharmacy Class C Tournament at the Cebu Youth Chess Center along Jakosalem st. This is open only to non-rated, non-varsity and novice players. Format is nine rounds Swiss and time control is 20 minutes with 10-second increment.

Coming up is newcomer-sponsor Elizabeth Mall, which will hold a tournament on Aug. 21. It is an open tournament, seven rounds Swiss and time control is 15 minutes. Prizes are P3,000, P2,000, and P1, 500. There is no entrance fee but participants are required to purchase P200 of dry goods or P150 food and drinks.

There are also some activities on the school level. Holding chess intramurals on Aug. 11-14 is Southwestern University. It is a team tournament among the different colleges such as medicine, law, engineering, nursing, and is divided into men and women.

Also on tap is the Cebu Doctor’s College Intramurals Chess Team Tournament on Aug. 23-25.

Next on schedule is the Cepca August Tournament slated on the 22nd at the Cebu Youth Chess Center. This tournament is for members only and format is five-round Swiss with time control depending on the member’s level of skill. We also have a new member, Armando Baria an executive and engineer of Aboitizland. Welcome to the Club, Mandy!

INTERNATIONAL. On the international level, Vishy Anand of India just won Dortmund 2004, traditionally Europe’s strongest tournament, over current World champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the finals. Third place went to Russian Peter Svidler, who defeated Peter Leko of Hungary. Fifth was Arkady Naiditsch of Germany, sixth Sergie Rublevsky also of Russia, seventh was defending champion Victor Bologan of Moldavia and last, Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine.

One of the strongest-ever tournaments of all time among women, Ural Super tournament, just concluded with Moldavian-French WGM Almira Skripchenko as solo winner with a score of six points. It was a round robin event among 10 players, which included the current world champion GM Antoinette Stefanova of Bulgaria, five-time world champion GM Maia Chiburdinadze of Georgia and Russian champion IM Alisa Galliamova.

$2.6 BILLION CHESS CITY. Chess is really going into big time now with the announcement by Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to build a $2.6 billion Chess City in Dubai. It will feature 32 buildings designed to mirror the image of a traditional black and white game board and will total an outstanding 64,000 square meters.

“It is Dubai’s destiny to become the center of such a magnificent game.

Dubai will play host to over 60 million amateur and professional chess followers from around the globe annually. They will have a permanent venue where they can congregate and play 24-hour championships throughout the year, while some other 500 million lovers of the game will have the chance to follow the excitement via interactive electronic screens,” he said in a joint statement with the chief executive of Dubai Projects, Sulaiman al- Fahim.

Wow! Do you believe this can be done?

SPASSKY TO BUSH. Boris Spassky has appealed to President George Bush to free Bobby Fischer, now under detention in Japan, in the interest of mercy and in consideration of Bobby’s chess accomplishments. He added that if his request is denied, Bush can put him in prison in the same cell as Fischer and to furnish them a chess set.

Saturday, August 7, 2004

Are women inferior to men?

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

IN philosophy, literature, arts, music and sciences men are clearly the dominant specie. It is even more so in chess.

A review of chess players of the past and the present shows a considerable difference between men and women in playing skills. With the exception of the phenomenal Judit Polgar of Hungary, there’s no woman today in Fide’s list of top 100 players.

There has been a lot of discussion on why this is so. Chess demands good memory, logical thinking, concentration and a strong desire to win. Do women lack these qualities? Of course not. So why?

The reason is fairly obvious. Women are not interested to play chess! The ratio between chess-playing men and women is about 30 to one.

I have been personally involved in chess not only in playing the game, but also organizing tournaments and clubs. The Cebu Executives Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) which was founded in 1990 has no woman member although we are more than 100.

Let’s examine the reason why women are not interested. I will be quoting from various personalities on the reasons behind this. Garry Kasparov says, “Chess demands immense strain and desire to always win. And for many centuries this type of mentality has been formed in men, who are the militant part of the world’s population and 20 to 30 years of women’s emancipation is not enough to change this mentality. We need another 30 to 40 years in order to fill the difference between men and women intellect.”

Harry Golombek says, “This maybe ungallant, but I think chess is really a game for the masculine imagination. There is a different quality of imagination involved. Men are more imaginative and women are better technically.”

Jan Donner adds, “Women can do everything but they cannot think logically. They have no intuition.”

Another reason why women are not interested is this line by Alex Yermolinsky: “The exodus of women from chess is a social phenomenon. As long as playing chess remains a borderline outlaw occupation with no social status, financial security, or career options, young women will run away.”

Angelina Belakovskaya is more to the point, “Why do young girls want to be movie stars or models? Because they see plenty of role models who are making a lot of money, are famous and have a good life. How many women chess players do we have as role models?”

The ultimate chauvinist in chess is Bobby Fischer who once withdrew from a tournament because a woman was playing (she was Lisa Lane, a US Women champion). Bobby says, “They are all weak, all women. They are stupid compared to men. They should not play chess, you know. They are like beginners. They lose every single game against a man. There isn’t a woman player in the world I can’t give knight-odd and still beat.” When Mikhael Tal heard this, he said this famous line, “Fischer is Fischer, but a horse is a horse.”

Here is another line from Garry Kasparov, who seems to be the most observant when it comes to Women’s chess: “Men are less affected by what are known in computer language as “interrupts”, this means, for example, that a women’s train of thought can be broken easily by extraneous events, such as a baby crying upstairs. This is not part of their environmental conditioning but organic, part of their genetic molecular structure. The effect, in computer terms, is to overload their memory banks with a series of little events to which they are programmed to respond, thereby limiting their powers of concentration.”

So there you are, the next time you play a woman, give her some respect because she is a rare breed.

CEPCA AUGUST TOURNAMENT. Our next tournament, for members only, is on Aug. 15, Sunday. I am urging all members to participate, now that we are forging ahead, to take timeout from their busy schedules. For tournament details call me at 231-76-56.

Congratulations to the Lapu-Lapu Chess Club for their 19-15 win over us last Aug. 1 at the Cebu Youth Chess Center. We demand a rematch!

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Robert ‘Bobby’ Fischer

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

DESPITE all these years Bobby Fischer is still making headlines. He is now facing deportation proceedings in Japan after his passport was cancelled by the US embassy in the Philippines.

When Bobby came out of retirement in 1992 to play Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia, that country was under economic sanctions by the United Nations for the war in Bosnia. Americans were not allowed to transact any kind of business then even in the form of a chess match. The penalty was a fine of $250,000 or 10 years in prison or both.

When Bobby was advised by the Treasury Department on this, he held up the notice and said, “Here is my reply to their order.” He then spat on the letter.

I think that now is payback time. America is known to enforce its laws, wherever you are regardless of your position in society. Besides, Bobby is now anathema to the American public because of his views on 9/11. If he should go to jail, it will be the saddest endgame to the greatest chess player who ever lived.

ECCENTRIC. Robert James Fischer was born 61 years ago in Chicago, Illinois. His mother was a Jew and a registered nurse with an eccentric and bohemian lifestyle. Robert Byrne says that Bobby’s mother was “a cuckoo, an intelligent eccentric, full of far-fetched ideas.” His elder sister, Joan, gave him a chess set on his fifth birthday that was to change his life forever. His father who was divorced in 1945, was Hans-Gerhard Fischer, a German physicist, although his paternity is the subject of some speculation. Bobby’s IQ is reportedly over 180, even higher than Einstein’s.

Although his chess was rather slow compared to today’s prodigies, his improvement was dramatic and incomparable by age 13. By age 15, he was the youngest grandmaster in the history of chess.

The effects of Bobby’s genius goes beyond the chessboard. The cold war was at its height in 1972 and his win over Spassky humiliated the entire Soviet establishment. He also elevated what was once a boarderline parlor game into mainstream sports. And lastly, as Lev Khariton says, “the chess heroes nowadays should not forget that it was owing to Fischer that they are living today in four- and five-star hotels, getting appearance fees, etc.”

The late Mikhael Tal, on his first loss to Fischer, said, “It’s difficult to play against Einstein’s theory.” Isaac Kashdan avers that “in Fischer’s hands, a slight theoretical advantage is as good as a Queen ahead.” Paul Keres admitted that in complicated positions, Bobby hardly had to be afraid of anybody.” Upon being interviewed on his loss to Fischer, Boris Spassky asserted that “when you play Bobby, it is not a question if you win or lose. It is a question if you survive.”

Perhaps, the greatest compliment on Bobby is this quote from an unknown chess expert: “No other master has such a terrific will to win. At the board he radiates danger, and even the strongest opponents tend to freeze, like rabbits when they smell a panther. Even his weaknesses are dangerous. As white, his opening game is predictable – you can make plans against it – but so strong your plans never work. In the middle game his precision and invention are fabulous, and in the endgame you simply cannot beat him.”

CEPCA VS. LAPU-LAPU. This is a reminder to all members of Cepca that we will be on collision course with the Lapu-Lapu Chess Club on Sunday at the Cebu Youth Chess Center at 1 p.m. Time control is 30 minutes per player, play to finish. Each player will play two games each handling both white and black pieces. This will be a 20-board or more encounter so there will be slots for almost all.

BUTCH LOYOLA. One of Cepca’s original members, Bonifacio “Butch” Loyola passed away last July 21st. Although not one of Cepca’s strong players, Butch was well loved because of his sense of humor, camaraderie and fair play. He was never known to raise his voice even in the club’s most heated arguments. We will miss you Butch. Our condolence to Stella and children Ignatius Mark, Marites, Marineil and Maricor.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Good company


READING the life of Dr. Jose Rizal years ago, what I can’t forget was that our national hero was a chess player. He was so good he was invited to become a member of the Heidelberg Chessplayers Club while he was in Germany.

If you play chess you are indeed in good company. Don’t believe all those talks that chess players are misfits or dropouts and the like of what Sherlock Holmes says, “He is a chess player, Watson. A man of devious mind.” Chess, especially when taught early to the child, helps develop qualities that make him or her a good leader and an asset to society.

Consider this: Presidents who play chess were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, Corazon Aquino, Ferdinand Marcos, Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat, and more. Leaders all are Arthur Balfour, Menachim Begin, Winston Churchill and Benjamin Disraeli.

Nobel-prize winners who were avid chess players were Albert Einstein, John Cornforth, Gerard Debrew, William Golding, Sinclair Lewis, Boris Pasternak, Bertrand Russel, John Steinbeck and William Yeats.

You think that holiness and chess don’t mix? Think again. Pope John Paul II is a good player. So were Popes Paul I, Leo X, Leo XIII, and great Popes Innocent III and Gregory the Great. The Patron saint of chess players in Spain is St. Theresa of Avila, a chess player.

There must be something about chess that makes one a great musician. Chess players all were Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Strauss.

This list is practically endless. Although, I don’t have the hard data to back this up, I believe that chess is the most played game in the world today even more so than basketball, golf or soccer. It is now part of the school curriculum in more than 40 countries in Europe, Asia and America.

$10,000 WINNER. The US of A certainly is the land of milk and honey. Josito Dondon, a Cebuano, won the other week $10,000 in the World Chess Open in Philadelphia. That’s P550,000! You can’t win this kind of money here and Dondon wasn’t even in the premiere section. He played in the under 2000 category and won seven games and drew two for first place.

Another item which Dondon mentioned in his e-mail is the chess explosion in the USA. With Chess in Schools Program firmly in place, over 30 million school children now play chess and it has created a huge demand for instructors and tutors.

Cebuano IM Enrico Sevillano is raking it in teaching chess at $60 per hour in Las Vegas. Even Victor Legaspina, a former Cepca president, is enjoying himself playing in tournaments which are sprouting everywhere.

ASIAN GAMES. When I read in the Hindu Times that chess will be included in the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar in 2006, my initial reaction was wow! Now is our chance to win some medals. Upon closer inspection, however, we would have minimal chances. China, India, Uzbekistan and the other Asian republics of the former USSR, even Vietnam, have much better players and our chance of winning is at most bronze in the team category.

CEPCA VS. LAPU-LAPU. For the second time, the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association will test the mettle of the Lapu-Lapu Chess Club in a 20-board encounter on Aug. 1 at the Cebu Youth Chess Center. Spearheading Cepca is former president Ben Di-maano backed up by William Retanal, Jojo Muralla, Dante Arguelles, Jun Catayas and Nikki Estenor. Lapu-Lapu will be led by Ariel Potot and mainstays Ramsy Pedroza, Tony Cabibil, Alwin Daculan, Arnel Abellana and Rene Romero.

TRIVIA: What country has the highest per capita chess population in the world?

If you know the answer go to Tun-anan Study and Chess Center at 28 Visitacion St. and claim your prize, a tournament-size chess set from Nicnic Climaco of Cepca. E-mailed answers will be entertained but priority will be given to those who answer in person.

The winner of the last week’s trivia was Stephen Tao, who e-mailed the correct answer from Japan-British Chess Magazine.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Man vs. Machine

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

BACK in 1990, I had as guests for dinner two Grandmasters, Jaime Sunye-Neto of Brazil and Eugene Torre. The discussion, almost the entire evening, was about chess computers. A few months earlier, Garry Kasparov had just defeated the program Deep Thought and IBM engineers were talking of building a new, more powerful version to challenge the World Champion.

Jaime asserted that the time will come when a computer will defeat all humans. Eugene was of the opinion that no program will ever be built that can defeat the World Champion.

As computers become better and more powerful, programmers and software designers started talking about artificial intelligence. Chess was considered a field to work on because it involved logical thinking and pattern recognition, traits that required some sort of “artificial intelligence”.

Besides, chess is a hugely popular game and their efforts can be tested against humans.

MAN AND MACHINE. Today as we survey the Man vs. Machine drama, made even more popular by the highly successful Terminator movie series, we have come to an astounding conclusion that as chess computers become more powerful so do humans! The average grandmasters now are much better players than they were a decade ago primarily because of the use of computers in training and tournament preparation. Where before super GMs were in the 2600 category, now it is 2700. There are now 16 players with ratings over 2700 and the top 100 GMs are all over 2600.

A review of the Man vs. Machine match-up over the last several years showed that the only time a computer won was in 1997 when Deep Blue defeated World Champion Garry Kasparov, 3.5-2,5. All the other match-ups were initially won by humans with the last seven matches drawn, as computers became more powerful and sophisticated. Humanity isn’t winning but it also isn’t losing either as the top humans are holding their ground.

Here are the full results so far in the Man vs. Machine match-up: 1) 1989, Deep Thought vs. Garry Kasparov 2775, human wins 2.0-0.0 2) 1994, Genius at Intel Grand Prix vs. 2762, humans win 2.5-1.5 3) 1995, Genius vs. Garry Kasparov 2805, human wins 1.5-0.5 4) 1995, Fritz vs. Garry Kasparov 2795, human wins 1.5-0.5 5) 1996, Deep Blue vs. Garry Kasparov 2775, human wins 4.0-2.0 6) 1996, Fritz vs. Anatoly Karpov 2770, human wins 1.5-0.5 7) 1997, Deep Blue vs. Garry Kasparov 2795, computer wins 3.5- 2.5 8) 1998, Rebel vs. Viswanathan Anand 2795, human wins 1.5- 0.5 9) 1999, Fritz at Frankfurt Masters vs. 2736, drawn 6.0-6.0 10) 2000, Fritz at Siemens Giants vs. 2750, drawn 5.0-5.0 11) 2000, Junior at Dortmund vs. 2746, drawn 2.5-2.5 12) 2002,Rebel vs. Loek van Wely 2714, drawn 2.0-2.0 13) 2002 Fritz vs.Vladimir Kramnik 2807, drawn 4.0-4.0 14) 2003 Hiarcs vs. Evgeny Bareev 2729, drawn 2.0-2.0 15) 2003, Junior vs. Garry Kasparov 2847, drawn 3.0-3.0

UZBEK CHAMPION. Despite being a trivia addict, the only things that sound familiar about Uzbekistan are Samarkand, Tashkent and the fact that it is, along with Liechenstein, the only doubly landlocked country in the world. Now I know better. I’ve read its history and its people. Why? Because Rustam Kasimdzhanov (learn to pronounce his name – Qosimjonov), an Uzbek, just defeated the highly regarded Michael Adams of England in Tripoli, Libya and is now World Chess Champion. It was a fighting match all the way with each winning two games and drawing two in six games. In the tiebreak Rustam won the first game and drew the second.

TRIVIA. Nobody was able to answer the trivia questions last July 2 and 9. The answer for July 2 is Weaver Adams while the answer for July 9 is Geza Maroczy.

What is the oldest chess magazine?

If you know the answer, go to Handuraw Learning and Leisure Café in Mabolo beside Kahayag Restaurant and claim your prize, a tournament-size chess set donated by Ely Berciles of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Assn. E-mail answers will be entertained but priority will be given to those who answer in person.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Fide rating list

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

THIS is to inform all members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association Inc. that we will have a tournament on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Cebu Youth Chess Center (formerly the Bibo Chess Club) along Jakosalem St.

The format is five-round Swiss system and is exclusively for members. Registration fee is P100.

Time handicaps are the same as in our previous tournament with members divided into three groups depending on their level of play. Sponsors of this one-day affair are Ely Berciles, Ed Cabantug, Felix Balbona, Gerry Tomakin and Cepca president Jun Olis.

Those who already have expressed intention of playing are Class Armadillo: Dante Arguelles, Jun Catayas, Bong San Pascual, Jun Olis, Edmund Suralta, Jojo Muralla, Santiago Peque and Gerry Rallos.

Players belonging to Class Buffalo are Felix Balbona, Art Ynclino, Joe Atillo, Nicnic Climaco, Danny Pestano, Alex Tolentino, Maggi Dionson, Norway Lara, Boy Pestano, Lito Pielago, Henry Cariat and Germs Carballo.

Players belonging to Class Cobra are Ely Berciles, Gerry Tomakin, Bal Ynclino, Tony Cornejo, Ogie Reyes, Felix Salve, Andy Aquino and Gideon Lauta. Other Cepca members who want to join may call Jun Olis at 495-9694. The tournament is open to new members.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. The big surprise of the World Championship currently ongoing at Tripoli, Libya is Rustam Kasimdzhanov the great killer from Uzbekistan who eliminated the tournament favorite Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in the semifinals. The other finalist is Michael Adams of England, who defeated Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaizan in the other semis.

While Adams was expected to figure prominently in the championship, Kasimdzhanov was not even a qualifier. He belonged to the reserved list of players who replaced those who withdrew or could not attend the tournament. He was ranked No.28 at the start and if he wins, it will be the biggest upset in the history of modern chess.

FIDE RATINGS. The World Chess Federation has released its top players as of July 2004. It is categorized into top 100, top 50 women, top 20 Juniors, top 20 girls and top country list. Here are the top 16 players whose ratings are over 2700 and therefore considered Super GMs: 1) Garry Kasparov, Russia 2817 2) Viswanathan Anand, India 2782 3) Vladimir Kramnik, Russia 2770 4) Alexander Morozevich, Russia 2743 5) Peter Leko, Hungary 2741 6) Michael Adams, England 2738 7) Veselin Topalov, Bulgaria 2737 8) Judit Polgar, Hungary 2728 9) Peter Svidler, Russia 2727 10) Shirov Alexei, Spain 2725 11) Ruslan Ponomariov, Ukraine 2722 12) Vassily Ivanchuk, Ukraine 2715 13) Evgeny Bareev, Russia 2715 14) Etienne Bacrot, France 2712 15) Boris Gelfand, Israel 2709 16) Alexander Grischuk, Russia 2705.

The top 10 women are 1) Judit Polgar, Hungary 2728 2) Xie Jun, China 2564 3) Antoaneta Stefanova, Bulgaria 2527 4) Alexandra Kosteniuk, Russia 2511 5) Humpy Koneru, India 2511 6) Maia Chiburdanidze, Georgia 2498 7) Zhu Chen, China 2494 8) Alisa Galliamova, Russia 2490 9) Pia Cramling, Sweden 2489 10) Svetlana Matveeva, Russia 2482.

The top 10 Juniors are: 1) Teimour Radjabov, Azerbaijan 2664 2) Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Azerbaijan 2662 3) Luke J. McShane, England 2643 4) Andres Volokitin, Ukraine 2638 5) Bu, Xiangzhi, China 2620 6) David Navara, Czechoslovakia 2616 7) Ferene Berkes, Hungray 2614 8) Artyom Timofeev, Russia 2611 9) P. Harikrishna, India 2609 10) Evgeny Aleksev, Russia 2606.

I have examined Fide’s Top Country players list and the Philippines is not included! I don’t know what is wrong but if it is deliberate then we have a serious problem here. I have already inquired from those who might know the real score, but it will take sometime. Nevertheless it might just be an oversight.

TRIVIA. A math teacher who was one of the most successful players from 1899 to 1908.

Supposedly his ghost returned in 1985 and has been playing Korchnoi through a Swiss medium.

If you know the answer, go to Big Apple Store located in Mabolo beside Kahayag Restaurant and claim your prize, a tournament-size chess set, donated by Ely Berciles of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association Inc.