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!