Saturday, December 31, 2005

Where goest thou Philippine chess?

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The future of Philippine chess is as dim as the moons of Pluto. Like a schoolboy who refuses to go to school, there is practically no hope in the horizon.

Back in the 60s to the 80s we were a regional power in Asia and at least belonging to the top 20 in the world. We placed once in the eighth position in the Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece, remember?

It is ironic that the credit for making chess popular in the world goes to the former president of Fide, Florencio Campomanes, a Filipino. During his term as Fide president, Philippine chess was a miserable lot as it was hopelessly divided due to too much politics and greed.

Today, there is no world-class Pinoy player. Current sensation Mark Paragua does not have the talent and discipline that the young Eugene Torre had in the 70s. Also the much heralded Wesley So, the current 12-Under co-champion, is not as sensationally gifted as the child prodigies of today like Sergey Karyakin, Hikaru Naklamura and Magnus Carlsen. If properly guided, he might become a super GM, but it will be a long shot.

The just concluded Southeast Asian Games showed clearly that we have lost our dominant position in the Asean region to Vietnam. They won all the gold medals in both team and individual play and all we could show were two silvers and three bronzes. The Joey Antonio’s much-hyped five-gold bid was good for a solitary bronze.

I expected this kind of performance as the elimination tournaments were a complete disaster and there was a boycott by several players including GM Bong Villamayor. So, what else is new?

The only way we could regain our position in the chess world is to institute a chess-in-schools program. China, much of Europe including the United States have such a program and chess is part of the curriculum. It has been shown that chess improves the IQ of the child and instills patience, sportsmanship and rational planning that are much needed in everyday life.

If we have overseas foreign workers in all sorts of discipline, we also have OFWs in chess. Villamayor, Rico Mascarinas, Eric Gloria and a dozen other Filipinos including Cebu tournaments fixture Lincoln Yap are all currently working in Singapore as instructors and arbiters as part of that state’s chess-in-schooll program. Someday, Singapore might just overtake the Philippines and when that happens we will be a sorry lot indeed!

Cebu, just like the rest of the archipelago, is barren as chess tournaments are far in between. It badly needs corporate and local government sponsorship. The only visible corporate sponsor is Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy.

Philippine chess is like the Philippines in general. Great before but now no more.

Chess puzzle Solution to last week‘s puzzle: Rd7. There were 20 correct entries and after a raffle here are the five winners: James Bermas, Rodrigo Capahi, Arlene Lao, Arnel Montayre and Ruel Hortyelano. Claim your P100 Globe prepaid card each at Handuraw Café in Mabolo.

The puzzle-solving contest has been suspended indefinitely.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bobby Fischer in the limelight again

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

When Bobby Fischer disappeared from public view more than 30 years ago, he left most of his private belongings in a storage unit in Pasadena, California and apparently forgot or was unable to pay the rent. The landlord sold off all his belongings and now the memorabilia has appeared on e-bay (item No.8736084948) and entitled “Bobby Fischer chess book collection and other items purchased at a CA flea market, BF storage locker.”

The source of this news, the Chessbase website, further reports that the belongings were purchased six years ago and the buyer tried to contact Bobby but was unable to get a response from the former champion. Briefly, here is a description of the items.

a) Original manuscript of his best selling book “My 60 most memorable games.”

b) A ceramic plaque given to Bobby, Bahia Blanca, 1971.

c) About 20 notes for tournament preparation all written by hand and categorized by opening moves containing hundreds of games.

d) Informates No.2-38.

e) About 300 foreign chess books described by Bobby himself as one of the best collections anywhere and some signed by him.

f) About 200 English chess books, many inscribed to Bobby with a personal message. One is signed by his mother on his birthday.

g) Legal papers about Bobby’s attempt to copyright a chess move, which pretty well describes his frame of mind.

h) Non-chess reading materials containing a wide variety of spiritual, political and other materials considered personal in nature.

Bobby is now living in Iceland after being in a Japanese jail for almost a year when the US cancelled his passport. There has been no news about him although there were some reports that he is willing to play again random chess, his own invention.

There has been some questions about the legality of this sale as most contend that these are Bobby’s personal properties. In fact, Bobby contends that these are stolen properties and the payment for the storage bills were sent to his agent in California.

Apparently, this is the second time that the collections were placed on e-bay. The first was withdrawn after a few days. Most of the feedback has been to return these items to Bobby as these are very private in nature.

Anybody who will buy these items should consider that in the event Bobby is pardoned by the US government, Bobby can take legal actions to recover his belongings.

CEPCA BOARD OF TRUSTEES. Mandy Baria, the energetic new president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association, has called for a meeting of the newly elected board of the club for 2006 at the Pestaño residence in Mabolo at 6 p.m. today. Mandy will present for approval his plan of action for the coming year as well as the vision and mission of the club.

CHESS PUZZLE. Solution to last week’s puzzle: Rd4! This was an extremely difficult puzzle and only one was able to answer correctly: Paul Ceral. Claim your P100 Globe prepaid card at Handuraw Café in Mabolo.

Solve the puzzle and win a prepaid card from the Corporate and Regulatory Board of Globe Telecom. There will be five winners of P100 prepaid card each. Text your name and key move to 0915-5070286.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The World Cup; Baria new Cepca prez

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The World Cup currently held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia, Russia is now on its final stage. The 128-player event, which included our own Mark Paragua, replaces the former Fide Knockout World Championships and also serves as a qualifier for the candidates stage of the World Championship. It started last Nov. 27 and will end this Sunday, Dec. 17.

It employs the knockout system until the fourth round. After that, the remaining 16 players will continue until the end the players will have their rankings from 1-16. The top 10 will proceed to the candidates stage and will be joined by other players already seeded to the World Championship.

After six rounds, the two remaining undefeated players are Levon Aronian of Armenia and Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine — who are both child prodigies — and they will play for the championships. The other eight players who will proceed to the candidates stage are Alexander Grischuk, Sergei Rublevsky, Evegeny Bareev, all of Russia, Etienne Bacrot of France, Boris Gelfand of Israel, Mikhael Gurevich of Belgium, Gata Kamsky of US and the surprise of the tournament, 15-year-old Magnus Carlsen “The Magnificent” of Norway. He will be the youngest player ever in the history of chess to play in the candidates matches.

CEPCA FINALS. After eight rounds of grueling chess, which lasted more than five hours. Dante Arguelles was crowned 2005 Champion of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca). The tournament was held last Sunday at the Stella Maris Seamen’s Center in Pier 4.

Second place went to Therese Gonzales, who was allowed to play as part of the club’s program to develop talented players, while Fred Sandalo finished third. Fourth-sixth placers were Jonjong Melendes, Manny Manzanares, and Jun Olis respectively. The other finalists were Jerry Rallos, Fabio Abucejo, Ramon Pangilinan and Bombi Aznar, who withdrew although he was leading in the tournament, as he had to attend another affair.

In the side tournament among the non-qualifiers, 12-year-old Yves Fiel, son of Cepca member Percival, won first place with four wins and a draw after five rounds. Yves, who also participated as part of the club’s development program, finished in a tie with Jun Quidlat but prevailed in the tiebreak. Third and fourth place went to Harrison Chua and Pepe Gador.

Vice Mayor Michael Rama was the guest of honor of the club and inducted the new officers and members of the Board of Trustees for 2006. The club’s officers are Mandy Baria (president), Renato Casia (vice president for internal affairs), Jose Gador (vice president for external affairs), Dante Arguelles (secretary), Felix Balbona (treasurer) and Ramon Pangilinan (auditor). The other members are Fabio Abucejo (finance) and Jun Olis (tournaments and FP membership).

CHESS PUZZLE. Solution to last week’s puzzle: RH3. There were 40 correct entries and after a raffle the five winners are Jeannete Lynn Go Dy, John Carlo Olbianda, Dodong Cana, Eden Hortelano and Jane Galagar. Claim your P100 Glove pre-paid card from Handuraw Café in Mabolo anytime in the afternoon up to 11 p.m.

Solve the following puzzle and win a prepaid card from my sponsor, the Corporate and Regulatory Group of Globe Telecom through its Vis-Min head, Jerome Yntig. There will be five winners of P100 prepaid card. Text your name and keymove to 0915-507-0286. Only Globe users can participate.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A tale of two cities

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

TAGAYTAY and Khanty-Mansyisk is the site of two major chess events this week. Tagaytay is the venue of the chess event in the Southeast Asian Games and Khanty-Mansyisk of the World Cup. The first was a major disaster for the Philippines while the latter had some consolation.

As I expected all along, Vietnam dominated all the events in both men and women, winning all the gold medals. It won the gold in the Men’s and Women’s standard team event and The Rapid team event for men. It also won all the Standard individual events in both men and women, Rapid and Blitz. In all formats, the Philippines was relegated to second place.

Individual gold winners were Nguyen Anh Dung in Men’s Blitz, Nguyen Quyn Anh in Women’s Blitz, Nguyen Ngoc Troungson in both Men’s Rapid and Standard.

Eugene Torre won the bronze in the Rapid Singles event, Oliver Dimakiling and Joey Antonio the silver and bronze in the Blitz event and Catherine Perena also the bronze in the Blitz event for women.

In the other side of the world in Siberia, our Mark Paragua had a respectable result in the World Cup.He won over Sergei Movsesian of Slovakia in the first round which was not expected as the Slovak had a higher rating of 50 Elo points. Eliminated in the first round were Dao Thein Hai of Vietnam and Utut Adianto of Indonesia.

To give you an idea of how strong this tournament is, Hikaru Nakamura, the reigning US champion and Andrei Volokitin, the top Junior player for this year, were eliminated in the first round.

In the second round, Mark was paired against Alexei Dreev of Russia, who is ranked almost 100 Elo points higher and the match went the full route before Mark lost in the tiebreak blitz.

Certainly it is a showing that Mark should not be ashamed of.

CEPCA GRAND FINALS. This Sunday, the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association will hold its final tournament for this year as all the monthly winners will slug it out to determine the club’s champion for 2005. Venue is at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center and starts at 1 p.m.

This year’s finalists are Dante Arguelles (January), Jerry Rallos (February), Renato Casia (March),Richard Abangan (April), Fred Sandalo (May). Jongjong Melendes (June), Fabio Abucejo (July), Jun Olis (August), Ramon Pangilinan (September), Manny Manzanares ( October), and Vic Sepulveda (November).

The club’s adviser NM Bombi Aznar is seeded to the finals .

After the tournament, the Club will hold its induction of new officers for 2006 and Christmas party with Vice-Mayor Michael Rama as guest of honor and inducting officer.

CHESS PUZZLE. Solution to last week’s puzzle: Rxg3. There were 27 correct entries and after a raffle, the five winners are: Eduardo Sanchez, Felix Poloyapoy Jr., Irene Sia, Lim Chee Li and Florencio Ceniza.

Claim your P100 prepaid Globe cards each from Handuraw Café in Mabolo anytime in the afternoon up to 11 p.m.

Solve the following puzzle and win a P100 prepaid card from my sponsor, the Corporate and Regulatory of Globe Telecom through Jerome Yntig. There will be five winners. Text your name and key move to cell 0915-507-0286. Only Globe users can participate.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Once upon a time

By Frank “Boy” Psestaño

Right after the Second World War, the chess scene was already alive and thriving in Cebu. Among the players active then were the late National Masters Jose Pascual, Marcelo “Loloy” Ruelan and his brothers Ablong and Poping. Loloy is the uncle of International Master Rico Mascariñas and father-in-law of National Master and International arbiter Lincoln Yap and the father of local arbiter Marvin.

The chess club was located then at the Bahug-Bahug corner and among the regular players were the late Col. Epifanio Hermosisima, the late master Carlos Benitez, Dodong Diez, Nicanor Tapara, Ading Uy, Natalio Ynclino, Ramon Ynclino and Jose Bataclan.

In the fifties, the most active chess club was located at the Royal Barber Club and the regulars were NM Bombi Aznar, his protege Dario Capin, Intin Celio, Tranquilino Ortega, the father of NM Cyril Ortega, a certain Dr. Villa and a regular they called Palab.

Already dominant was the late NM Glicerio “Asing” Badilles. There was also another chess club owned by Carlos Encarnacion located beside the University of the Visayas. Other players were Cepca member Gerry Tomakin, Jose Yap, the Nacar brothers and Vicente Montecillo.

In the sixties there was a chess club at the corner of Sanciangco and Borromeo known as the Cebu Chess Club and later at the corner of Sikatuna and Imus, known by the same name. Prominent players during this period were Cepca members Arturo Ynclino and Tony Cornejo, the late Tony Crisologo, Dongdong Almario, Miguel Banebane, Pepe Gador, Rolando Veloso and columnist Francisco Morelos, the father of my good friend Tata.

Also very much active during this period was Bob Tojong, the source of much of my information here and who was then the Region 7 vice president of the Philippine Chess Federation.

CEPCA GRAND FINALS. The grand finals of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association is scheduled for next Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center starting at 1 p.m. A side event for the non-qualifiers has been added.

Right after the tournament, the club will celebrate its Christmas party and induction of the new officers for 2006.

Vying for the grand championship are monthly tournament winners Dante Arguelles (January), Jerry Rallos (February), Renato Casia (March), Richard Abangan (April), Fred Sandalo (May), Jongjong Melendez (June), Fabio Abucejo (July), Jun Olis (August), Ramon Pangilinan (September), Manny Manzanares (October) and Vic Sepulveda (November).
Cepca adviser NM Bombi Aznar has been seeded in the finals.

CHESS PUZZLE. Key move to last week’s puzzle: Rf4. There were 17 correct entries and after a raffle the five winners are: Ma. Fatima Damoli, Florentino Rubillos, Stephen Flores, Walton Lacorte and Edna Lizarondo.

Claim your P100 Globe prepaid card each from Handuraw Cafe in Mabolo anytime in the afternoon up to 11 p.m.

Solve the following puzzle and win a P100 prepaid card from the Corporate and Regulatory Group of Globe Telecom. There will be five winners. Text your name and key move to 0915-507-0286. Be reminded that only Globe users can participate.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Final countdown to the SEA Games

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The chess competition in the Southeast Asian Games will start this Sunday at the Tagaytay Convention Center. Eight gold medals are up for grabs: Standard Team, Standard Singles, Rapid Team, Rapid Singles and Blitz for Men and Standard Team, Standard Singles and Blitz for Women.

GM Rogelio Antonio spearheads the RP team and will be in contention for five gold medals: Standard Team and Singles, Rapid Team and Singles and Blitz.

The other players of the Standard Team and Singles are Eugene Torre, Oliver Dimakiling, Oliver Barbosa, and Ronald Dableo. Comprising the Rapid Team are Nelson Mariano II, Barlo Nadera and Petronio Roca. Jayson Gonzales will compete in the Blitz Singles category.

The members of the powerhouse Vietnamese team are Nguyen Ahn Dung, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, Le Quong Liem, Ly Hong Nguyen, Dinh Duc Trong, Tu Hoang Thong, Duong The Anh, Nguyen Thi Thanh An.

Not to be underestimated is Singapore, the fast-rising star in the Asean region. Its members are Wu Shaobin, Wong Meng Kong, Goh Wei Ming, Goh Koon Jong Jason.

Myanmar, whose average Elo (Top 10 players) is higher than the Philippines might be the surprise of the tournament. Their players are U Wynn Zaw Htun, U Myo Naing, Zaw Oo, Phyo Chit, Kyaw Lin Naing,

Counting on their experience are the veteran stars of Indonesia namely Susanto Megaranto, Edhi Handoko, Nathanael Situru, Tirto, Taufik Halay, Danny Juswanto Graha, Tirla Chandra Purnamo.

Trying their best not to be underdogs are the Malaysian woodpushers Mas Hafizulhilmi Agus, Nicholas Chan, Wong Zi-Jing, Lim Yee Weng, Mok Tze Meng,Lim Chuin Hoong, Marcus Chan, Anas Nazreen Bakil,

Also the Top 3 players in the region, Vietnam’s Dao Thein Hai, Indonesia’s Utut Adianto and the Philippines’ Mark Paragua, are not competing as they will be playing in the World Cup in Moscow.

CEPCA INDUCTION. The Induction of the new set of officers of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association and Dinner Show scheduled on Nov.27 has been postponed to Dec. 11 to coincide with the Grand Finals and Christmas party of the club. For more info contact Jun Olis at 341-3661.

CHESS PUZZLE solution to last week‘s puzzle: Ke2. Only four entries got the correct answer and they are Richard Ching, Ronald Hamac, Alexis Pilario and Eugenio Rocha. Claim your prize of Globe P100 prepaid card each from Handuraw Cafe in Mabolo anytime in the afternoon up to 11 p.m. My sponsor, the Corporate and Regulatory Group of Globe Telecom through Jerome Yntig will award a P100 prepaid card each to the five correct answers. Be reminded that only Globe Subscribers can participate in this contest. Text your name and the keymove to 0915-507-0286. The key to the solution is finding the surprising second move. This puzzle by Samuel Lloyd has been declared as “one of the world`s most famous puzzle”

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Chess-playing accountants in Cebu

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

In previous articles, I featured chess-playing lawyers and engineers, and this time, it’s the turn of the accountants.

First on the list is one of the founders of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess association (Cepca), Gerry Tomakin, who is one of my closest friends and constant sparring partner in chess. He was previously connected with the Philippine Steam Navigation and later with Aboitiz Shipping, which is a hint that he is now in the eighties. He was a Philippine scout during the war and is now an American citizen.

OLD HAND. A former top honcho of Aboitiz Shipping and my classmate in grade school is Kiting Moro, who plays at Deep Blue Cafe in SM City. I still have to play Kiting, although the last time we met, during the Colegio del Santo Niño alumni homecoming, he said he wants to play with me.

It seems there are a lot of accountant-chessplayers in the Aboitiz Group of Companies, among them Alvin Arco, vice president of the Power Group, Jimmy Bacalso, assistant vice president of the Construction Group, and Cepca member Fred Sandalo, who has retired and is one of the top players of Cepca.

Chessplaying brothers are Conceso “Boy” Balbona of Pepsi-Cola, and the incoming treasurer of Cepca for 2005-06 Felix Balbona, father of the famous Balbona chess-playing kids who are dominant in the kiddies division in the local scene.

A long time Cepca member is Jun Ortiz, who is the auditor of Gaisano Main and Countrymall. Another good player is Alexander Obenza.

Private practitioners are Celeste “Dodong” Llenos, Rafael Perez and Ruel Senorin. Good players are Hersey Bastian of Pamocor and Manuel Anore, who is with Virginia Farms.

A new member of Cepca is Ivan Quijano, Felix Balbona’s colleague at the BIR. Another accountant, Filtro Galan, plays for San Miguel.

Formerly very active in the local chess scene but now based in the United States is Woman National Master Susan Itaas, who sponsors local tournaments from time to time. Another one is Art Cortes, also US-based.

Two very good players are Rodrigo Ababat, who plays master strength, and NM Ben Macapaz, my classmate in high school, who acquired his title in the famous Philippine Open tournament in 1972, where Bombi Aznar and Loloy Ruelan also became masters. Ben is connected with the Sacred Heart-Jesuit. Among those who participated in that tournament was Art Ynclino, a Cepca original.

I am sure this is only a partial list of chess-playing accountants and just like lawyers and engineers, their training makes them good players.

The monthly tournament of the club will be this Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Stella Maris Seafarer‘s Center in Pier 4 at 1 p.m.

Since this is the last tournament prior to the Grand Finals in December, members are urged to attend since we will also have a short meeting to discuss the coming induction of the new officers and members of the board of trustees on Nov. 27.

INDUCTION. To fund the induction as well as the Grand Finals tournament in December, we will also have a dinner show on Nov. 27 at the Handuraw Learning and Leisure Cafe in Mabolo. There will be two live bands. More details will be discussed during the meeting.

Solution to last week’s puzzle: Qd6. There were 43 correct entries and after a raffle. Here are the five winners; Paul Ceral, James Bermas, John Francis Balbona, Arlene Lao and Roger Tano.

Claim your P100 Globe prepaid card from Handuraw Cafe in Mabolo in the afternoon up to 11 p.m. The chess puzzle will resume next week.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

‘Crabby opening’ vs. a ‘hippo’s defense’

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

There are literally hundreds of openings and variations in chess, some quite popular like the Ruy Lopez, Sicilian, English and the French, but there are also the unsound, ridiculous and not necessarily bad openings that are named after animals.

Barnes defense - Fried Fox variation: 1.a4 e5 2.h4Crab Opening: 1.a4 e5 2.h4 Elephant Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 Hippopotamus Defense: 1.e4 Nh6 2.d4 g6 3.c4 English Orangutan: 1.c4 Nf6 2.b4Rat: 1.d4 d6 Take note of these openings so you can improve your chess IQ.

CHESSMATES. Fellow columnist Manny Oyson wrote about the newest magazine in town, Chessmates, that featured new Grandmaster Mark Paragua on the cover, and had an article about chess patron Bombi Aznar written by Oyson and the 64 Golden men of chess.

Bombi gave me a copy incidentally, and I was impressed by the layout and contents. This is certainly a brave venture by Dr. Jenny Mayor, who contacted Jun Olis and me prior to its publication.

Jun told me that I was nominated to be one of the “golden men” but I, of course, refused because I believe that I don’t belong to the same category as Bombi, Boojie Lim or Florencio Campomanes. Jun was also nominated, being the president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca), but he also declined.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to future issues of Chessmates.

DINNER SHOW. Cepca will sponsor a dinner show at the Handuraw Cafe this month as part of its fund-raising campaign and to improve the camaraderie among its members. All chess makes Jack a dull boy.

We will have three live bands courtesy of Handuraw, a five-course meal excluding lechon, which is donated by treasurer Ed Cabantug, and lots of beer -- all for only P500. Each member will be required to bring a companion and will be assessed P1000 - not bad, as we guarantee you will get your money’s worth.

Cepca president Jun Olis, will contact each member, and the proceeds will be used for our grand finals in December.

CHESS PUZZLE. Solution to last week’s puzzle:Bc6. There were 35 correct entries and after a raffle, here are the five winners: Henry Prajes, Ramon Rojas, Tisha Twinkle Sanchez, Sai Yue Wan and Evan Ybañez.

Claim your P100 prepaid card each at Handuraw Cafe in Mabolo anytime in the afternoon up to 11 p.m.

Solve the following puzzle and win a prepaid card from my sponsor, the Corporate and Regulatory Group of Globe Telecom through Jerome Yntig, Vismin head. There will be five winners of P100 card.

Be reminded that only Globe subscribers can participate in this contest. Text your name and keymove to cell no.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Halloween gambit

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Gambits, where one side sacrifices material for an advance in development , are the most exciting and popular openings in chess.

Halloween is just around the corner and I’ll show you an opening that will definitely scare your opponents.

It was known in the late 19th century as the Mueller-Schultze gambit, but was “baptized” later as the Halloween gambit by Rainier Schenkler in his magazine, Randspringer, in December 1993. The name was chosen because anyone, including strong players, will be very surprised if it is used against them in tournaments.

Indeed the fourth move of white is shocking and scary. After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6, when black is expecting the normal 4.Bb5, white comes up with a surprising capture of the pawn on e5 (diagram}.

A certain Steffen Jacob read the article, and was deeply moved that he created Brause, a clone of the chess program Crafty , that played more than 3,000 Halloween gambit games in the internet from the 1996-98 and it scored 72 percent.

Brause showed in a lot of short games how deadly this gambit could be. One example: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5 Nxe5 5.d4 Nc6 (this is one main line, the other one is 5 ..Ng6), 6.d5 Nb8 7.e5 Ng8 8.d6 c6 9.Bc4 f6 10.Qh5+ g6 11.exf6 Qxf6 12.Qe2+ Kd8 13.Ne4 and Black resigned.

For more examples of games using the Halloween gambit and how exciting it could be, read the article by Paul Keiser in Chessville and be you would be surprised, indeed.

CHESS PUZZLE. Solution to last week‘s puzzle: Nf3.There were 33 correct entries and after a raffle, here are the five winners: Markeno Czar Manzanares, Victor Aguilar Jr, Irene Sia, Paul Ceral and Rey Bitalac.

Claim your P100 prepaid card at Handuraw Cafe in Mabolo anytime in the afternoon up to 11:00pm.

Solve the following puzzle and win a prepaid card from our sponsor Corporate and Regulatory Group of Globe Telecom through Jerome Yntig- Vismin head .There are five winners of P100 card each.

Be reminded that only Globe subscribers can participate in this contest. Text your name and keymove to cell no. 0915-507-0286.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Dangerous moves and IBM’s Deep Blue

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

DANGEROUS Moves, released in 1984, is a movie about two different men competing for the World Chess Championship. One is a 52-year-old Jew, Akiva Liebskind (Michel Piccoli), while the other is a 35-year-old genius, Pavius Fromm (Alexander Arbatt), who defected to the West several years earlier.

Pavious’ obsession since childhood was to defeat Liebskind. Paranoid, he is convinced that his opponent is spying from every corner. In fact the KGB tries to sabotage Fromm, in order to discredit everyone who publicly opposes the Soviet system of government.

This Swiss film won an Oscar in 1984, for best foreign picture.

GAME OVER. Kasparov and the machine is a 2003 documentary of the fascinating match between the reigning world champion Garry Kasparov and IBM‘s Deep Blue Supercomputer, a “scientific experiment” which captured the imagination and attention of millions worldwide.

In the second game, Kasparov laid a trap that most computers fall for. Deep Blue did not fall for it and Kasparov accused IBM of using a human player during the game to increase its strategic strength. With a dramatic victory in Game 6, Deep Blue won its rematch with the champion 3.5-2.5.

Rated by its viewers as a 5-star, it was nominated for a 2003 International Documentary Association Award.

The Chess Players is a 1977 film by the famous director, Satyajit Ray, based on the short story by Munshi Premchand .

The film is set in 1856, and shows the life and customs of 19th century Islamic India, at the eve of the Indian rebellion of 1857.The British Resident of the East India Company (Richard Attenborough) had observed that the monarch of Lucknow seemed to be uninterested in government. He tried to manipulate events so he can annex the province.

Embroiled in a long running chess rivalry, two local noblemen (Sanjeev Kumar and Saaed Jaffrey) cannot be bothered on such minor issues, as to who is governing whom, and continue to play chess. Meanwhile, conditions in the Kingdom go from bad to worse.

CEPCA. Cagayan de Oro-based Manny Manzanares won the October edition of the monthly tournament of the Cebu Executives and Professional Chess Association last Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafarer Center in Pier 4. He was undefeated in five games, conceding only a draw to 13-year-old Jessa Balbona.

Second placer was the hard-luck Joe Atillo, who lost his last game to Manzanares after four straight wins. At third was Pepe Gador and fourth place went to Cy Balbanera. Jun Quidlat placed fifth.

CHESS PUZZLE. Solution to last week‘s puzzle 2: Nf5. There were 10 correct entries and after a raffle, here are the winners; Beth Arrogancia, Francisco Mahusay, Jason Cabahug. Florence Domantay and Gamaliel Vicente Jr.

Claim your prize at Handuraw Café (beside Kahayag) in Mabolo anytime in the afternoon up to 11p.m.

Solve the following puzzle and win a prepaid card from our sponsor, the Corporate and Regulatory Group- Vismin of Globe Telecom. There are five winners of P100 card each.

Be reminded that only Globe subscribers can participate . Text your name and keymove to cell no. 0915-507-0286..

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Chess movies 2; Topalov virtual champ

By Frank "Boy” Pestaño

One of the earliest movies featuring computer chess was 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968 .

In the movie, the computer Hal 9000, plays chess with one of the astronauts and announces a mate in two moves.

The position was based on a real game - -Roesch vs. Schlage -- played in Hamburg in 1910.

Another famous movie featuring chess, is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‘s Stone. It involved life-size characters with Harry as a bishop, Ron as a knight and Hermione a rook. The final position, designed by IM Jeremy Silman, involved a sacrifice by Ron and a mate by Harry in two.

BRAINWASHED (1961). It is considered as the finest fictional work about chess .

The movie starts with Werner von Basil, (Curt Jergens), being helped on board a ship with people getting out of war-torn Europe. While onboard, he sees a game by a guy named Czentovic, the world champion, against several men.

Watching the game, he sees a blunder and an easy win by Czentovic about to be made. He intrudes and shows the group how to force a draw, impressing everyone and earning a challenge from Czentovic.

As the game starts, a flashback is shown about Basil’s life, and it shows him getting arrested by the Gestapo. A high-ranking officer, who thinks of himself as an intellectual, decides to break Werner without using any violence. Months go with endless questioning, isolation and no reading material allowed. Despite being disoriented, he manages to steal a book from a guard and later realizes it is a chess book.

He teaches himself by deduction and, over time, memorizes every game and its nuances. With no human contact, his only friends were Alekhine, Capablanca, Lasker and others.

We realize by now that he has escaped from a mental asylum. How does he fare against the champion? The answer gives us real food for thought.

World Championship. Viswanathan Anand won with black against Peter Leko in round 12, and is now tied with Peter Svidler, 1.5 points behind Vassily Topalov. Theoretically, there is a chance that one of them will catch up, although it will be very hard, as Topalov has never lost a game in this championship.

CHESS PUZZLE 2. This puzzle is sponsored by Globe Telecom, thru Jerome Yntig. Five winners will receive P100 Globe cards each and in case there are more, the cards will be raffled of.

Key move to last week’s puzzle: 1.Rf3. There were 22 players who answered correctly. After a raffle, in the presence of Cebu Executives and Professional Chess Association treasurer Ed Cabantug and Jun Montes, the following persons will receive the prizes. Jerry Calvo Jr, Arnel Cabanero, Florentino Galan Jr,Bong Ceballo and Elisa Cudal.

Claim your cards from Handuraw Café (beside Kahayag ) at Mabolo anytime after noon until 11 pm. Winners can only win once a month and only Globe users can join. Text your name and the keymove to cell no.0915-507-0286.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

World championships; top players and a puzzle

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The World Chess Federation (Fide) has released its latest list of the top players in the world. The list includes the top women and top juniors as well as the top 10 federation members. The big story is that Mark Paragua is now officially a Grandmaster after a controversial wait of almost a year.

Top 10 Men. 1. Vishwanathan Anand (India, ELO 2788) 2.Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria, 2782) 3.Peter Leko (Hungary, 2751) 4.Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2748) 4.Peter Svidler (Russia, 2740) 5.Vladimir Kramnick (Russia, 2739) 6.Judit Polgar (Hungary, 2735) 7.Etienne Bacrot (France, 2725) 8.Levon Aronian (Armenia, 2724) 9.Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 2720) 10.Michael Adams (England, 2718).

The “young lions” continued their climb to the top as Teimour Radjadov of Azerbaijan makes it above 2700 for the first time. Shakhriyaz Mamedyarov also of Azerbaijan gained 42 points and Pentala Harikrishna of India gained 28 points to place 28th and 31st respectively in the top 100. Another big gainer with 41 points is 21-yr-old Zviad Izoria of Georgia who won the World Open in Minneapolis early this year.

Top Women. 1.Judit Polgar (Hungary, 2735) 2.Zsuzsa Polgar (USA, 2577) 3.Jun Xie (China, 2573) 4.Humpy Koneru (India, 2540) 5.Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia, 2516) 6.Maia Chiburdanidze (Georgia, 2511) 7.Kateryna Lahno (Ukraine, 2509) 8.Yuhua Xu (China, 2502) 9.Antoaneta Stefanova, (Bulgaria, 2494) 10.Pia Cramling (Sweden, 2492)

Top Juniors. 1.Teimur Radjabov, (Azerian, 2704) 2.Shakhiyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, 2764) 3.P Harikrishna (India, 2673) 4.Andrei Volokitin (Ukraine, 2666) 5.Hikaru Nakamura (USA, 2662) 6.Sergey Karjakin (Ukraine, 2658) 7.Artyom Timofeev (Russia, 2658) 8.Alexander Areshchenko (Ukraine, 2653) 9.David Navara, (Czechoslovakia, 2646) 10.Arkadij Naiditsch, (Germany, 2641)

Top Federations. 1.Russia, 2710 156/417 2.Ukraine, 2662 52/168 3.USA, 2622 60/97 4.Hungary, 2620 36/99 5.Armenia, 2619 17/22 6.France, 2619 29/67 7.Israel, 2617 33/40 8.Netherlands, 2606 18/55 9.Germany, 2603 61/186 10.China, 2601 18/22. 39. Philippines , 2489 5/21.

The ELO rating is the average of its top 10 players while the two numbers following that is their number of GMs and IMs. .
Top 10 Philippines. 1.Mark Paraqua 2596 2.Eugenio Torre 2535 3.Rogelio Antonio Jr. 2526 4.Rogelio Barcenilla 2503 5. Nelson Mariano 2466 6. Jayson Gonzales, 2464 7. Idelfonso Datu 2457 8. Yves Ranola 2455 9. Buenaventura Villamayor 2451 10. Enrique Paciencia 2441.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. In what is perhaps his greatest accomplishment ever, Veselin Topalov is on a run never seen in a major tournament in decades. He scored five wins and a draw in six games for a staggering performance rating of 3157. He has wins with the black pieces over Peter Leko, Alexander Morozevich, Peter Svidler and Judit Polgar. He also demolished Michael Adams and was winning over Vishy Anand before Anand escaped with a draw.

He probably needs only to draw his remaining games to become the undisputed champion of the world. Although I picked him at the start to win over the highly favored Anand and the rest, I never expected this kind of performance, really. He is leading his closest pursuers, Anand and Svidler, by two full points.

The World Championship is played in San Luis, Argentina from Sept. 27- Oct. 16.

Chess puzzle. Chess puzzles are fun and helps improve your game It is also rewarding as my sponsor, the Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Group of Globe Telecom, thru its Vis-min Head Jerome M. Yntig, is donating P100 prepaid cards to each correct answer. There will be five winners which will be published next Friday. The cards will be raffled if there are more than five correct answers. Also, as we will be coming out with a new puzzle every week, a winner can only win once a month.

Please take note that only Globe users can participate and win the prize. Text the key move to cell no. 0915-507-0286.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Anand favored to win finals; betting odds and statistics

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Viswanathan Anand has been picked by oddsmakers to win the championship currently ongoing in San Luis, Argentina. The betting site Betsson has given Anand a 35.7 percent probability to win, followed by Topalov at 23.2, Leko at 18.8, Svidler at 6.1, Morozevich at 5.4, Polgar and Adams at 4.9 and Kasimdzhanov at 2.

Translating into actual money, a $100 bet will win $280 if you bet on Anand, $420 for Topalov, $520 for Leko, $1,600 for Svidler, $2,000 for either Polgar or Adams and a hefty $5,000 for Kasimdzhanov.

Furthermore, the expert who should know best, Garry Kasparov, has gone on record that the trio (Anand, Topalov and Leko) has a 95-percent probability that the champion will come from them. This gives the rest only a five percent chance, which is ridiculous considering the past records and the strength of the players.

Remember the last Fide Championship? Kasimdzhanov came out of nowhere to best the favorites. Also, Alexander Khalifman and Ruslan Ponomariov were never considered by “experts” to win, yet they were Fide Champions back in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

In fact, Nigel Short disagrees with Kasparov. Considering that the trio has a 17-1 odds to win, he has publicly wagered a modest $100 to Kasparov to put his money where his mouth is. He relishes the prospect of winning $1,700 should any of the rest prevail.

According to Frederic Friedel of Chessbase, “Betsson – or more precisely the people who are placing wagers there – estimate the odds of one of the trio winning the event at 78.7 percent (with the betting margin).”

You, of course, cannot bet such a wager, but they would give you odds of 1.3 if you could. Conversely, the combined odds of one of the other five winning in the bettors’ opinion is 23.9 percent, and they would give you odds of 4.2. Which means that betting $100 would net you $420 – and that Kasparov would be giving Short unreasonable odds if he would indeed accept the wager that Nigel is offering him.

STATISTICS. There is, however, another set of statistics by mathematician Jeff Sonas. He has thoroughly analyzed the gaming history of the players concerned, the format of the championship (double-round robin) and has produced a different set of numbers.

According to his calculations, the combined chance of any of the five winning is 41 percent. He has considered the tendency of Leko to draw his games, and therefore, his chance to win this tournament is down, as the winner will certainly have a high plus score. In fact, Peter Svidler has a better percentage to win this tournament compared to Leko (12-11 percent) and Judit is right there with them with also with 11.

Sonas calculates that Anand has a 31 percent chance to win followed by Topalov at 17. Morozevich winning chance is at eight, Adams at seven and the lowest-rated player in the tournament, Kasimdzhanov, at three.

Another set of statistics Sonas calculated are the chances of various tiebreaks needed to win the title. He has determined the chance of having a clear winner after 14 rounds is 79 percent. Another result such as shared No.1 spot, which will be resolved without rapids via head-to-head criteria, has a chance of 12.5 percent.

Another possibility on a shared first place, resolved without rapids via number of wins criteria is six percent. Finally there is a 2.5 percent chance that more than two winners will share first place and will be resolved via tiebreaks.

BACKGROUND. For those who do not know the background of this World Championship, let me refresh you with this information.

The participants are 1) Vishy Anand, 35, India (Elo 2788) 2) Veselin Topalov, 30, Bulgaria (2788) 3) Peter Leko, 26, Hungary (2673) 4) Peter Svidler, 29, Russia (2738) 5) Judit Polgar, 29, Hungary (2735) 6) Michael Adams, 34, England (2719) 7) Alexander Morozevich, 28, Russia (2707) 8) Rustam Kasimdzhanov, 26, Uzbekistan (2670).

The Champion will receive $300,000, the second $140,000, third $100,000 and down the line. The tail-ender will get $50,000.

Format of the tournament is double-round robin with time controls of two hours for the first 40 moves, followed by one hour for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes with 30 seconds increment for all moves.

The first game was played last night. Anand won over Polgar in 41 moves of a Caro Khan, while Topalov had a close win over Leko in 40 moves of a Sicilian Najdorf. Svidler and Adams drew in 24 moves of a Petroff, likewise Kasimdzhanov and Morozevich in a Sicilian Najdorf in 54 moves.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The World Finals players speak

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

In just a few days (Sept. 27) the World Championship will finally take off in San Luis, Argentina after a wait of almost 15 years.

The last undisputed champion was Garry Kasparov when he edged out Anatoly Karpov in 1990 in New York and Lyon, France.

Although this championship is a little bit tainted with the absence of Vladimir Kramnik and the retirement of Garry Kasparov, the whole chess community is generally in agreement that the winner of this tournament is the true world champion.

The San Luis press office has interviewed all the players by asking the same set of questions. 1) What are your thoughts about this tournament? 2) How are you preparing yourself?

Here are the players’ brief and interesting answers.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, 26 (Elo 2760 Uzbekistan): 1) “The competition will be interesting and full of fight and at the end, the pressure will be very high and he who best deals with it will prevail. 2) I would not open the details of my preparation nor would others.”

Alexander Morozevich, 28 (2707, Russia): 1) He has expressed that all the players that will take part are very strong and “they were not invited by mistake.” He also “considers this competition as a big step for getting out of the actual chaos.” 2) “In Aquarius time, old methods of preparation are no longer valid. You need new instruments and methods for working. I’m in that way but my last results don’t give me much hope.”

Michael Adams, 34 (2719, England): 1) “There are eight very strong players so anything can happen.” He also declared that the double-round robin is fair enough to assure that “the strongest player will win.” 2) “Of course, I will do a lot of work for this very important event.”

Judit Polgar 29 (2735, Hungary): 1) “Every game can be extremely hard. I try to prepare the best way I can and to play the best chess.” 2) “I am preparing against my opponents one by one and in both colors, and of course a lot of my repertoire. Also, the physical training is a very important part of my preparation.”

Peter Svidler, 29 (2738, Russia): 1) “This is probably the strongest event I will ever play in and I will do my best to do well in it.” He added that “all the best and most exciting chess players are in San Luis.” 2) “Mostly mentally.”

EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Peter Leko, 26 (2763, Hungary): 1) “Everything is possible if I am able to show my best chess. But I am not thinking about the final results that much. My approach is just to play game per game as good as possible, step by step. My opponents are strong but I will fight.” 2) “In terms of chess there will be nothing special. You cannot compare a tournament with a match against one player as I had it last year against Kramnik. In a match, it is necessary to dedicate a big part of your preparation, especially towards him. But it is impossible to do the same with seven opponents. For San Luis you need to be motivated, fresh, full of energy and be very flexible.”

Veselin Topalov, 30 (2788, Bulgaria): 1) “I’m very happy for being able to participate in this historical World Chess Championship and I am only thinking of winning it.” He also added that “this is the first time that the best eight players of the world are gathered together to see who is the best. This will be the most important tournament of my life.” 2) “I cannot reveal the secrets of my preparation but I have trained hard for a long time.”

Vishy Anand, 35 (2788, India): 1) “Of course, it will be a very important event. I think all eight of us will be training our guns for the event. I will start training soon. Since it will be a tough double-round robin, every game will be really important.” 2) “I am playing in Mainz a rapid match. After that, I start working for Argentina. I do some physical exercise routine, some preparation and lots of rest before the actual match.”

It has been estimated that considering the pressure and quality of the opponent, a single game in this championship tournament will equal 10 rounds of boxing in terms of energy and effort. Since the players will be playing 14 games in 20 days, it will really be tough and exhausting and the prizes, compared to other sports, is puny and scandalously low for a world championship.

The champion will receive $300,000 and the second and third will take home $140,000 and $100,000 respectively and down the line. The last placer’s consolation prize is $50,000.

Compare this to the $2,200,000 won by Kim Clijsters in the last US Open in tennis and the $1,750,000 that Manny Pacquiao will receive in his rematch next year against Eric Morales. And to think that there are approximately 700,000,000 chess players all over the world, more than any other sport!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The candidates to the World Championship

By Frank “Boy" Pestaño

The province of San Luis, Argentina will play host to the World Chess Championship on Sept. 27 to Oct. 16 and all the players are unanimous in saying that everyone has a fair shot at the title. Here is a brief description of the players.

Vishy Anand, 35 (Elo 2788), India – He is considered by the players as one of the favorites to win the championship. Known as the “lighting kid” for his fast play that won him the Rapid World Championship in 2003 in Cap d’Agde, France, he is also a former Fide champion who defeated Alexei Shirov in Teheran in 2000. He won the chess Oscar in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004.

Veselin Topalov, 30 (2788), Bulgaria – Another favorite of the players for his consistency and all-around play with no weaknesses in the opening, middle and endgame.

He won the World 14-Under Championship in Aguadilja, Puerto Rico and the silver medal in the 16-Under in Singapore and became a grandmaster in 1992.

He holds the distinction of defeating Garry Kasparov in the latter’s last game prior to retirement in Linares 2005. He also won the strongest tournament so far this year, the M-tel Masters in Sofia.

Peter Leko, 26 (2763), Hungary – When he became grandmaster at the age of 14, it was a world record at that time, for being the youngest to achieve the title.

He is considered one of the important opening theorists in the world, and has predicted that he will be a world champion someday.

His most notable achievement has been 1st Wijk Aan Zee 2004 and 2005 and first at Linares 2003. He has also won Dortmund three times. All the tournaments mentioned are considered the “majors” in chess.

Peter Svidler, 29 (2738), Russia – Peter became a grandmaster at the age of 17 in 1994. He is considered the dark horse of the tournament and has predicted that Anand, Topalov and Leko will win the championship, in that order, aside from him of course.

He is a four-time Russian champion (1994, ’95, ’97 and 2003) and reach the semis in the 2001 Fide World Championship.

Judit Polgar, 29 (2735), Hungary – Judit is easily the strongest woman chess player in history and the main attraction of the tournament.

She became a grandmaster at the age of 15, which was a record at that time, and participates only in Men’s tournaments. She has defeated most of the World’s top players, including Garry Kasparov, and her main ambition is to be world champion.

Michael Adams, 34 (2719), England – Michael won the British Championship in 1989 at the age of 17.

FINALS PLACES. He reached the finals of the Fide 1997 World Championship, losing to Anand via a sudden-death playoff. He also reached the finals of the 2004 Fide World Championship in Libya, losing to Kasimdzhanov in the rapid-play tiebreak.

He is considered by his peers to be a very dangerous player when he is “on.”

Alexander Morozevich, 28 (2707), Russia – He is noted for employing unusual chess openings and for his tendency to prefer complicated rather than clear positions.

Among his notable achievements was a 2803 performance rating in the 2000 Olympiad and winning the combined blindfold and rapid standings at the Melody Amber tournaments in 2002 and 2004. He was also first in Biel 2003 and 2004, and tied with Svidler in the Russian Championship in 2003.

Rustam Kasimdzhanov 26 (2670), Uzbekistan – Although he is the lowest-rated player in the tournament, he holds the distinction of being 2004 Fide champion, defeating Adams in Libya in the finals. Along the way, he demolished Vassily Ivanchuk and Veselin Topalov via tiebreaks.

He is known for his stamina and strong nerves, which are vital in this double-round robin tourney

BALBONA. Despite the absence of Jessa Balbona, now in first year high, Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion won the Elementary division team gold in chess in the recent Milo Little Olympics. The team was bannered by her brothers Marc Gabriel Balbona, who scored five points on board 1; Felix Shaun, who got 5.5 on board 2, and John Francis, also five points on board 3. Angelique Alcamo got three points on board 4.

Felix Shaun was named Most Outstanding Athlete for his performance. Cepca member Felix and Juliet must be very proud of their children as any parent would be. Congrats to the Balbona family!

CEPCA ELECTION. The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) recently elected its new set of officers and members of the board of trustees for the year 2005-06. Elected president was Dante Arguelles, Renato Casia as internal vice-president, Pepe Gador as external vice-president, Mandy Baria as secretary, Felix Balbona as treasurer, and Ramon Pangilinan as auditor.

The other members of the board of trustees are finance committee head Fabio Abucejo, tournaments chairman Jun Olis and membership chairman Boy Pestaño.

Meanwhile, the club’s September monthly tournament was held after the elections. Yves Fiel, 12, the Shell Kiddies champion, showed maturity beyond his age by winning the tournament after winning 4- of-5 matches.

Second-placer Dr. Ramon Pangilinan thus qualified for the grand finals in December. The rest of the top five were Jun Atillo, Jun Quidlat and Yves’ father, Percival.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

World championship this month in Argentina

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

After a long wait, the World Chess Championship willfinally take place in San Luis, Argentina from Sept. 27 to Oct. 16. The main characters are Vishy Anand of India, 35 (Elo 2788), Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, 30 (2788), Peter Leko of Hungary, 26 (2763), Peter Svidler of Russia, 29 (2738), Judit Polgar of Hungary, 29, (2735), Michael Adams of England, 34 (2719), Alexander Morozevich Russia, 28 (2707, and Rustam Kasimzhanov Uzbekistan, 26 (2670).

Total prize money is $1 million, with $300,000 going to the champion and $50,000 to the last placer. Second and third placers will win $140,000 and $100,000, respectively.

There hasn’t been an undisputed champion in the last 15 years as world of chess has been hopelessly divided. The last undisputed champion was Garry Kasparov when he defeated Anatoly Karpov in 1990 in New York and Lyon, France. Hopefully, this tournament’s winner will gain the acceptance of the chess community in general.

Format is double-round robin with classical time controls of 40 moves in two hours, followed by 20 moves in one hour and 15 minutes with 30-second increment for all moves.

It is very difficult to determine the winner as everyone is capable of becoming champion. Here is my fearless forecast 1) Topalov 2) Leko 3) Anand 4) Kasimzhanov 5) Polgar 6) Svidler 7) Morozevich 8) Adams.

All the players are familiar with each other’s style and ability. The player with the strongest nerves and stamina will win as this will be a thoroughly exhausting tournament.

The players – Anand, Topalov, Leko, Polgar, Svidler – talked to the San Luis press office and were asked the same set of questions. 1) How do you evaluate the way of play (double-round robin) of this tournament? 2) Who are your favorite players among your seven opponents and who will be the toughest?

The answers:

Anand: 1) “Exhausting, nerves, tension, patience, stamina and lots of luck. All will be equally tough. It will depend on each one’s play. Some will get cracking from the beginning while others may have to work more. 2) It is tough to pick the favorite: I think these are the seven most difficult rivals in top-class chess.”

Topalov: 1) “I think this is the best and most balanced system. Luck cannot influence in the result. The winner will be the fair champion. 2) Everyone is dangerous, anyone can win.”

Leko: 1) “The double-round robin is nothing unusual for top players. But the situation in San Luis will be rather different because the pressure is much higher than normal. A good mental and physical shape will be required.

2) “This is a difficult question. Of course, Anand and Topalov are the favorites if you consider the ratings. But as I said, all the players are very strong. I think everybody has a decent chance to win this. You know, it is just one event and by the end of the day you need also a little bit of luck. But I am sure that we can expect a very close competition and the winner will be most likely decided in the last round only if not in a possible tiebreak.”

Polgar: 1) “It is going to be an extremely difficult and exhausting from the mental and physical point of view. After all it is a world championship and everybody I think has very seriously prepared before the event. 2) Generally, it is clear that the toughest opponents are the higher rated players, but I am an experienced player and I know that every game can be extremely hard. All the players come to Argentina to win and fight.”

Svidler 1) “It will be very hard and exhausting for sure, but I think it is the best possible format for an eight-player event. 2) We shall see after the tournament, but historically, I found it hard to play Vishy Anand.”

The tournament will be broadcast live to the whole world via the internet at www. in English and Spanish.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

The busy month of August

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The chess calendar last month was one of the busiest ever with several major events and a host of minor ones.

The European Team Championship was held in Gothenburg, Sweden last July 29 to Aug. 8 and was won by Holland, followed by Israel and then France (on tiebreak). Ukraine was fifth and a surprise to many, Russia could only finish 14th. In the Women’s section, Poland came out first followed by Georgia and Russia again on tiebreak.

The members of the Dutch team were Sergey Tiviakov, Erik van den Doel, Ivan Sokolov, Jan Timman and Loek van Wely.

They had a score of 15/18 points and 22/36 board points.

Another major event was the Mainz Chess Classic held Aug. 9-14 in Mainz, Germany. It is actually a chess festival and composed of several events.

First was the rapid match between Viswanathan Anand and Alexander Grischuk, which Anand won, 5-3. Then they had the Peter Svidler-Zoltan Almasi Chess960 World Championship won by Svidler, 4.5-3.5.

Other events in Mainz were the Ordix Open won by Teimour Radjabov with a score of 9.5/11 and Chess960 Open snared by Levon Aronian, who finished clear first with 10/11 points.

An exhibition featured Almasi versus Shredder, which the silicon unit won, 2-0, and another computer match in Chess960 between Svidler and the Baron, won by the human, 1.5-0.5.

In the Unzicker Gala 80, Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi tied for first with 3.5/6, also participated by Boris Spassky and Wolfgang Unzicker.

Another tournament last month was the Magistral Ciudad de Igualada, which took place on Aug. 16-21, won by Luke Mcshane of England. The other players in the double-round robin were Andrei Volokitin of Ukraine, Alexander Beliavsky of Slovakia and the still active Victor Korchnoi of Switzerland.

The British Chess Championship took place in the Isle of Man on Aug. 1-3 and won by the defending champion Jonathan Rowson.

The 80th French Championships likewise took place in Chartres on Aug. 15-27. Joel Lautier won the Men’s event and the Women’s champion was Almira Skripchenko.

Some 34 grandmasters and 18 international masters were among the players from 43 different countries that took part in the Abu Dhabi Chess Festival held Aug. 14-23. Anastasian Ashot of Armenia won with a perfect score of seven points.

The 2nd Malaysian Open held Aug. 19-24 in Kuala Lumpur had a surprise winner in untitled Wang Hao of China with an almost perfect score of 10/11. No.2 with eight points is the current hottest Filipino player, Joey Antonio, who scalped the highest rated player in the tournament, Dao Thien Hao of Vietnam, in the last round.

Third placer was another Filipino, Jayson Gonzales, with 7.5 points. The other Filipinos were Nelson Mariano also with 7.5, Eugene Torre seven, Jesse Sales six and Sherie Joy Lomibao 4.5.

SHELL. Locally, we had two big events: the Shell National Youth Active Championship Visayas leg, which attracted over 500 players at SM City-Cebu last Aug. 20 and 21 and the E-Mall Chess Challenge last weekend.

Defending champion Jose Roble Jr. of the University of San Jose Recoletos again won Shell’s Junior division (20-Under) with a perfect score of seven points. First runner-up was Kim Steven Yap of the University of San Carlos and third was Zilberstein Torres of the Cebu Institute of Technology.

In the Kiddies division (14-U), Yves Fiel of Argao emerged the champion. Taking the second and third spots were Cagayan de Oro’s Lennon Hart Salgados and Joel Pimentel of Bacolod City.

All the six qualifiers will play in the grand finals in Manila on Oct. 15-16.

By the way, Kim Steven is the son of National Master and International Arbiter Lincoln Yap, while the proud father of Yves is Cepca member Percival Fiel.

Eden Diano was the champion in the E-mall tournament with 6.5/7 points. His brother, Harold, was No.2 followed by Anthony Makiniano, Edwel Alesna and Jobannie Tabada, who all had six points. The event attracted over 100 players, including three national masters.

N.B. This is to remind all members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) that we will elect new officers and members of the board of trustees for the year 2005-06 on Sept. 11, 2 p.m. at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center. We will also have our monthly tournament on this date. Attendance is compulsory.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chess movies; Gaston Needleman

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I was watching the movie Phenomenon 1996) starring John Travolta and Robert Duvall the other week on HBO, where there were several chess scenes.

It gave me an idea to do a series of articles on movies which feature chess prominently or as a background story.

In Phenomenon, the small-town mechanic George Malley (Travolta) is transformed by a strange flash of light from the sky into a super-intelligent being who absorbs information like a sponge, learns Portuguese in 30 minutes, uses telekinesis and plays chess like a grandmaster.

His friends, especially the town doctor (Duvall), his love interest Lace Pennamin (Kyra Sedgwick) and his best friend and chess playmate Nate Pope (Forest Whitaker) are at first intrigued and amused. However, they gradually become afraid of him and the government wants also to know what happened to this ordinary man.

Carl Schenkel’s murder mystery Knight Moves (1992) stars Christopher Lambert as Peter Sanderson, a chess champion. He becomes a suspect when a woman he recently slept with was brutally murdered, including several other women.

But when the murderer contacts Sanderson and informs him that this was a maniacal human chess game, he realizes that he has to beat the murderer to stop the killings and clear his name. Diane Lane plays a psychologist who falls for Sanderson and Tom Skerritt is the detective investigating the case.

Searching for Bobby Fischer (Paramount 1993) is the true story of child chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomeranc) as written by his father Fred Waitzkin.

His teacher is the famous author Bruce Pandolfini (Ben Kingsley), who teaches chess the Bobby Fischer way – total commitment and dedication, and other negative Fischer traits such as contempt of opponents.

Josh is in danger of sacrificing his decency, but in the end he is able to successfully blend ruthless competition with good sportsmanship.

The movie is a showcase of scholastic chess in America and the “chess mothers and fathers” syndrome.

He is an eight-time national champion and an international master, not a world-class player that was expected of him but highly respected as a martial arts expert (taichi chuan push-hands middleweight champion) and has a rich intellectual life.

Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957) has won a multitude of awards including the Cannes Film Festival prize. It stars Max Von Sydow as a 14th-century knight wearily heading home after a decade of combat.

Disillusioned by misery and plague, he concludes that God does not exist.

As he travels through the wilderness, he is visited by Death (Bengt Ekrot), garbed in the traditional black robe. Von Sydow does not want to die as yet so he challenges the Grim Reaper to a game of chess – if he wins he lives if not he dies.

As they play, the knight and the Grim Reaper get into a discussion whether God exists. The movie ends with one of the most indelible of all of Bergman’s films: the dance of death.

Another movie with a chess plot is the Luzhin Defense (2000), starring John Turturro and Emily Watson. Turturro plays Alexander Ivanovich Luzhin, a Russian chess master so absent-minded that he doesn’t know what city he’s in most of the time.

Emily Watson is attracted to the socially inept genius at a resort in Northern Italy, where he is playing a chess match. The movie features chess exhibitions, a blindfold exhibition and giant chess sets. In the end, Luzhin commits suicide by jumping out of the window. He can never be happy with Watson unless he gives up the game, which is eating him alive.

Grandmaster Jonathan Speelman was the technical advisor of this film.

GASTON NEEDLEMAN. The controversial American Continental Championship held in Buenos Aires was won last week by Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon with seven others tied for second place. Since Fide has promised that only seven will get free tickets to the World Cup, a playoff was necessary to determine the qualifiers. The seven would have to play a tiebreak to decide the six qualifiers and one player would have to be left out.

Why is this so controversial lately? To start with, the qualifiers all have 2600-plus ratings with the exception of one person, actually still a 15-year-old boy, and rated only 2242! His name is Gaston Needleman of Argentina.

In the tiebreak, the other qualifiers allegedly ganged up against the boy to force him out which actually happened. So is this the end of the story? Not quite.

Media made a major fuss over it such that Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, upon the request of Gov. Alberto Rodriguez Saa of San Luis, Argentina, site of the 2005 World Championship, decided to give the boy a free ticket to the 2006 World Cup – a happy ending.

Watch out for this kid. He had a 2655 performance rating in this tournament.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Eric Gloria and Jun Olis

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I RECEIVED an interesting e-mail from a good friend, Cebuano National Master Eric Gloria, who has been following this column via the Internet in Singapore. For those who are not familiar with this gentleman, he is a former Olympian and one of the Philippines’ top players in the 1980s and ’90s.

He was a member of the Philippine Team to the 1988 World Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece, where the country placed seventh overall, our highest achievement ever.

He was also a Team B member in the 1992 Manila Olympiad, where he won the silver medal on board 5, behind Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

However, I think that Eric’s most significant achievement of which the general public is not aware of, is his participation in the historic 2nd Fischer-Spassky match in Yugoslavia, where he served as researcher to Bobby Fischer in 1992.

He is a licensed Fide instructor. He attended a series of seminars and exams in Singapore and works with a company called Intchess Asia Pte. Ltd. This company provides trainers and instructors to schools, the Singapore Chess Federation and also private lessons.

Its objective and mission is to upgrade the skills of trainers, to provide training to promising junior players of Asia and to promote the interest of the National Chess Federation in the region and its players, trainers, arbiters and organizers.

There are 28 trainers of different nationalities of which seven are Filipinos namely International Master Rico Mascarinas of Cebu (who doesn’t know Rico?), IM Enrique Paciencia of Tacloban, IM Lito Maninang and IM Domingo Ramos of Manila, Fide Master Celestino Cain from Bicol, NM Louie Polistico of Manila and, of course, Eric.

On weekdays, they are assigned to schools (primary, secondary, universities) and private lessons after school hours. Their work is not the usual 9-to-5 routine.

On weekends, they have group classes in their office. They train the national team members and the national junior squads as well as kids 6-13 years-old in the national pool.

Eric believes that in five years time, Singapore will be a force to reckon with in Asia.

Aside from the good pay and free housing (air-conditioned rooms), he is enjoying his stay there as Singapore is renowned for its cleanliness, orderly traffic and green surroundings, though rather expensive on the pocket.

On the private side, he is married and has three daughters aged nine, seven and five, based in Bacolod City. He finished an engineering degree, but once a chess player always a chess player. He is in an enviable position as his passion is also his work.

JUN OLIS. After several close misses, Jun Olis finally got what he was aiming for, a monthly championship that has eluded him since last year. He is the August champion of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca), after winning last Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center. It was also memorable as we had a guest participant, former Fide president Florencio Campomanes.

I think that this tournament was one of the strongest ever despite the absence of previous monthly winners. In the last round, Jun won over Felix Balbona and Joe Atillo defeated erstwhile leader Percival Fiel.

Jun, Percival and Joe were tied at four points after five rounds. In the tiebreak and median count, Jun came out on top followed by Percival and Joe. El Labunog was fourth and Pepe Gador fifth.

I would like to inform all Cepca members that we will be electing a new set of officers for the period 2005-06 next month, Sept. 11. Attendance is compulsory.

Our plan, subject to approval by majority of the members, is to also hold our September monthly tournament on the same date.

In the evening, we will have a dinner show at Handuraw Café in Mabolo to raise funds for our prizes in the Grand Finals in December. We will also have the induction of the new set of officers as well as new members.

Your president, Jun Olis, will contact all members individually regarding this arrangement.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Southeast Asian Games; Wesley So

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

SURPRISINGLY, the Philippines is not the toprated chess team in the Men’s division of the Southeast Asian Games. Myanmar, despite having only one grandmaster and four international masters, has an average Elo of 2530 compared to the Philippines’ 2492 and Vietnam’s 2480. Indonesia has 2469 and Singapore has 2378. The other teams are way behind. This is based on the average ratings of the country’s top 10 players.

The top eight players of Myanmar are IM Wynn Zaw Htun with an Elo of 2578, Fide Master Htun Htun Than (2548), FM Aung Kyaw Lwynn A (2533), FM Phyo Chit (2533), GM Zaw Win Lay (2529), FM Mynn Htoo (2526), FM Ye Naung Win Myint (2524) and IM Myo Naing (2516).

Vietnam has four GMs: Dao Thien Hai, the highest rated player in Southeast Asia (2601), Nguyen Anh Dung (2555), 15-year-old Nguyen Ngoc Truongson (2554) and Tu Hoang Thong (2486). Backing them up are IMs Hoang Thanh Trang with an Elo of (2476), Bui Vinh (2467) and Pham Minh Hoang (2466).

INDON VETS. Not to be discounted are the veterans of Indonesia, which has seven GMs, yes seven, led by Utut Adianto (2588). The other players are FM Irwanto Sadikin (2517), IM Juswanto Denny (2509), GM Megaranto Susanto (2499), GM Barus Cerdas (2479), GM Gunawan Ruben (2463), IM Singgang Salor (2415), GM Ardiansyah H. (2409), FM Kosasih Cecep (2408) and GM Handoko Edhi (2407).

Singapore has two GMs, four IMs and also four FMs in its top 10. Its players are GM Wu Shaobin (2510), GM Wong Meng Kong (2460), IM Goh Koon Jong Jason (2428), IM Toh Terry (2410), FM Goh Weiming (2390), FM Ong Chong Ghee (2339), IM Chan Peng Kong (2332), FM Kivisto Mikko (2307), FM Tan Lian Ann (2302) and FM Yeo Min Yang Evan (2300).

I don’t have the final line-up of players of these countries to the Games as it is not listed in their websites, but the bulk should include most of the players listed above.

This early, the Philippines already has its final line-up to the Games after a rigorous series of eliminations, which lasted two months.

Comprising the Standard chess team are GM Joey Antonio (2513), GM Eugene Torre (2535), IM Ronald Dableo (2440), FM Oliver Dimakiling (2329), and Oliver Barbosa (2355). IM Jayson Gonzales (2477) is the reserve player.

On the other hand, the Rapid chess team’s players are Antonio, IM Mark Paragua (2596), GM Nelson Mariano II (2466), IM Barlo Nadera (2423), the only Cebuano in the line-up, and IM Petronio Roca (2414). Torre gave up his spot in favor of Paragua, who was the Rapid champion in the last Seag.

The Blitz players are Antonio, Dableo and Gonzales with the fourth slot going to either Paragua or Mariano.

In the distaff side, the Standard team is made up of Woman Fide Master Sherrie Joy Lomibao (2126), Woman International Master Beverly Mendoza (2140), Shercila Cua (1954), Enirose Magno and Aices Salvador.

The Women’s Blitz players are Sherily Cua and Women National Masters Catherine Perena and Joan Toledo. Mendoza or Lomibao could get the fourth spot.

There are eight gold medals up for grabs in chess: Standard Single, Rapid Single, Blitz Single, Standard Team and Rapid Team for the Men’s cluster and Standard Single, Standard Team and Blitz Single for the Women’s. Theoretically, Antonio can win five gold medals.

Venue is at the Tagaytay Convention Center, starting on Nov. 27 to Dec. 5.

WESLEY SO. Pinoy child-prodigy FM Wesley So defeated pacesetter Srinath Nayaranan of India in the last round for the Philippines’ best finish in the World Youth chess Championship held in Belfort, France recently.

Four players tied for first in the Boys Under-12 category: Srinath Nayaranan, Sanan Sjugirov of Russia, Ter Sahakyan Samvel of Armenia and So.

If the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and other sports bodies handle this boy properly, we have the makings here of a future grandmaster and possible world champion.

Wesley is a grade-six student at St. Francis of Assisi College in Bacoor, Cavite.

CEPCA AUGUST. The monthly tournament of the Cebu Executives and Professional Chess Association (Cepca) for August will be held this Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center in Pier 4, 2 p.m.

Only four monthly tournaments are left, including this one, and NM Bombie Aznar is already seeded for the championship in December same as last year.

Format is five-round Swiss with time handicapping depending on the players’ skill. New members are welcome.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Powerchess, Chess Infinitum; Art and Lucy

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Powerless is a chess variant and a product of love and determination by Cebuano inventor Gamaliel Perez Jr. Frustrated at what he termed as inadequacies of the standard game, he has created a dynamic variant that is creative and full of life.

The game uses an ordinary chessboard and standard pieces. However, he has added four new characters of two sets each: Mage, ranger, archer and guard.

The mage can move to any square with the same color it occupied at the start of the game. It captures diagonally the opponent next to him. Its limitation is that it has to move adjacent to the opponent first before it can capture.

The ranger’s movement is equivalent to two successive knight moves as long as there is no enemy blocking the first knight move. The archer moves like a king and captures like a queen but its range is limited to three squares with one significant difference – after capturing a piece, it returns to its previous position.

The guards are the defenders of the king and are skilled in hand-to-hand combat. When near the king, it may assume a knight, rook or bishop move, whatever is necessary to defend the king. When it is not near the king, its moves are limited to like that of a king.

The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent’s king. There is no stalemate. A game can also be won by marching your king to the eighth rank safely. This is called the powerbreak.

The price of an upgrade set is P200 available from the inventor at 0927-571-9479.

CHESS INFINITUM. This chess variant is invented by another Cebuano, chess patron Boojie Lim. It uses a semi-10x10 board and standard chess pieces, except only six pawns are used and there is an additional piece called the wizard.

If we label the 10 horizontal lines as a-j, there are only eight squares in line a and b, and also eight in line i and j. The placement of the white pieces are: rook at c1, pawn at c2, knight at d1, bishop at d2, pawn at d3, queen at e1, pawn at e4, king at f1, wizard at f2, pawn at f4, Knight at g1, Bishop at g2, pawn at g3, rook at h1 and pawn at h2. Black pieces are placed in the same positions at the opposite board.

The square e2x e3 x f2x f3 is known as the infinitum space and any piece inside it acquires additional mobility. This concept is unique, original and proprietary.

In the infinitum space, a rook, knight and bishop moves as if it were occupying any of the four squares inside the infinitum space and can control a maximum of 35, 24 and 37 squares, respectively.

The queen or wizard moves as if it were occupying any of the four squares inside the infinitum space and can control a maximum of 61 squares. The king moves as if it were occupying any of the four squares of the infinitum space and controls a maximum of 15 squares.

The king can castle kingside (two options: Kh1 and Rg1 or Kg1 and RF1) or queenside (three options: Kc1and Rd1, Kd1 and Re1, Ke1 and Rf1).

An infinitum board and two wizards cost only P100, available from Lingky Yap at (032) 414-9187.

LOGIC PUZZLES. Those who were able to solve all three logic puzzles last week were Marvin Brian Omandom, Rey Jose Z. Edmilao and Dr. Art Padilla of the US.

Here are the answers: 1. Bulbs – switch on any and wait for a while. Switch it off and turn on another switch and go to the bulb room. The first switch is connected to the hot bulb. The second switch is connected to the lighted bulb. 2. The man in the elevator is a midget. 3. Sheik – Switch camels.

ART AND LUCY. I think that everyone agrees that a true friend is hard to find.

At my age, I know probably a thousand people whom I call by their first names.

They are called acquaintances, associates, classmates, co- employees, chess playmates and relatives, but only a few qualify as true friends. A true friend indeed is Art Ynclino, whom I admire for his sincerity and innate goodness.

Art and Lucy Rivera will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary on Aug. 13 at the Shrine of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Archbishop Compound along D. Jakosalem St.

Their children Alice Angelique and Vicente “Loloy” Atega, Baltazar and Cherry Racaza, Maria Isabel and Roberto “Bo” Varquez, Helen and Boy Bucag and Carmelita will join them in their celebration. Sorely missed is Gerry, but I’m sure will be present in spirit.

Their grandchildren are famous swimmer Andre Josef, Keith Jeremy, April Apple, Mark, Chad Paolo and Charmaine Patricia.

The principal sponsors include Ellery Berciles, Romeo Estrella, lawyer Arturo Ladera, Col. Benjamin Miaga, engineer Frank Pestaño, Jose Velez, lawyer Fermin Ynclino and Dr. Vicente Ynclino.

On the distaff side are Aurora Velez, Ceferina Estrella, Airma Ladera, Patrocenia Miaga, Socorro Atega, Martina Velez, Luz Paulo and Melitona Canoy.

The good Lord has blessed this family and may there be more blessings in the future.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Chess variants; three logic puzzles

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

It is estimated that there are around 1,450 chess variants ranging from hexagonal and three-dimensional to fourhanded and circular. A complete description of these variants is, of course, impossible but the most thorough is the Encyclopedia of Chess Variants by David Pritchard.

You can obtain the book from Games and Puzzles Publications, P.O. Box 20, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4YP United Kingdom.

The price is about $41 although it may have changed by now.

The book is designed to entertain as well as to introduce many excellent yet largely unknown games. It also serves as a reference on chess variants, the first book to attempt a comprehensive survey on the subject.

The variants have been collected from all over the world and dates from ancient times up to the present day. About half can be played using an ordinary chess set.

It is by no means complete, as more variants have been invented from the time it was published in 2000. Offhand, I can mention two inventions by Cebuanos, chess infinitum by chess-patron Boojie Lim and powerchess by Jun Perez, both of which will be featured next week.

Aside from Chinese chess or XiangQi and Japanese chess or Shogi, whose adherents number in the millions, the other variants have a limited following and most have become extinct with the authors’ deaths.

My own survey and research shows the following variants to be popular even now: Killer or Suicide Chess, Atomic Chess and Fischer Random Chess, whose current champion is grandmaster Michael Adams.

David Pritchard, who seems to be an authority in chess variants, says the following are the most popular aside from being original: Extinction Chess, Racing Kings, Displacement Chess, Randomized Chess, Marseillais Chess, Double-move Chess, Progressive Chess, Kriegspiel, Alice Chess, Triplets, Avalanche Chess, Hostage Chess, Coordinate Chess, Knight Relay Chess, Magnetic Chess, Dynamo Chess and Ultima.

CIRCE. My favorite is Circe Chess, not on the list above, in which captured pieces are reborn on their starting positions as soon as they are captured based on the following rules: 1) Pawns return to the start position on the same file they are captured. 2) Rooks, knights, bishops return to the starting square, the same color as the square they are captured. 3) Taken queens go to d1 (white) or d8 (black).

For instance, a white pawn captured on b4 is reborn on b2, a black knight captured on f6 is reborn on b8, a black rook captured on the same square is reborn on h8. Castling with a reborn rook is permitted.

If the square that the rebirth should take place is occupied, either by a friendly or enemy piece, the captured piece is not reborn – it is instead removed from the board and takes no further part in the game.

LOGIC PUZZLES. Here are three simple logic puzzles which may seem easy but in reality arerather difficult to an ordinary person. There are no tricks here. Chess players should have no problems here, or do you? E-mail your answers to me or text it to 0920-813-6507. All correct answers will be acknowledged in my column next week.

1) Bulbs – Imagine you are in the room with three switches. In an adjacent room are three bulbs; each switch belongs to some bulb. It is impossible to see from one room to another. How can you find out, which switch belongs to which bulb, if you may enter the room with bulbs only once?

2) The man in the Elevator – A man lives on the 10th floor of a building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening – he gets into the elevator, but if there is someone else there or if it was raining that day – he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the seventh floor and walks up three flights of stairs to his apartment. Can you explain why it is so?

3) Sheikh’s Heritage – An Arab sheikh tells his two sons to race their camels to a distant city to see who will inherit his fortune. The one whose camel is slower will win. The brothers, after wandering aimlessly for days, ask a wise man for advice. After hearing the advice, they jump on the camels and race as fast as they can to the city. What does the wise man say?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Chess variants (second of a series)

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

It's generally accepted that Chaturanga, which originated in India around the seventh century after Christ, is the mother of all chess variants, including modern chess, Shogi and XiangQi.

Shogi and XiangQi were featured in my column last week. As far as I know, Chaturanga is not popular anymore having been replaced by modern chess.

However, it is interesting to find out how it is played being the original invention.

The game is played on an uncheckered board of 8x8 squares. Each side has a king, a counselor, two elephants, two knights, two rooks and eight pawns. Note the similarity with modern chess, except that the counselor has replaced the queen.

The king moves as the usual king but additionally has the right to make a one-knight move during the game, provided that he hasn’t been checked before his knight move. There is no castling.

The counselor moves one square diagonally and the elephant moves two squares diagonally, but may jump the intervening square.

The knight moves as the usual knight and the rook or chariot moves as the usual rook.

The pawn moves as the usual pawn but may not make a double step on its first move.

Pawns can promote when they arrive at the last rank of the board but only to the type of piece that was in the opening setup (e.g., a pawn that promotes to b8 can only promote to a knight). Additionally it can only promote to a knight if the player has lost that piece during the game. A consequence is that pawns never promote on e1 or d8.

The object is to mate the opponent’s king. A player that stalemates an opponent loses the game.

KILLER CHESS. Children variants killer chess or suicide chess is a popular variant and probably of great antiquity. It is easy to play and serves as an introduction to children before more serious real chess.

The opening setup is the same and all pieces move as in normal chess. Capturing is compulsory. The king plays no special rule in the game and can be taken. There is no mate or checkmate.

When a player captures two or more pieces, he may choose which piece to capture. Castling is not allowed. In the case of stalemate, whichever has fewer pieces left wins the game. If both have the same number, the game is drawn.

The player with no more pieces on the board wins the game.

Atomic chess is another variant popular among children. It is identical to regular chess with one exception. In regular chess, the captured piece is removed from the board and the capturing piece takes its place. In atomic chess both pieces are killed and this explosion extends to all eight surrounding squares. All pieces are killed with the sole exception of pawns. Pawns are killed only when they are involved in the actual capture.

Checkmate is rarely achieved in atomic chess. Instead, the death of the opposing king happens when he is caught too near an atomic explosion.

FISCHER’S VARIANT. Fischer random chess is a variant created by Bobby Fischer. His goal was to create a variant in which creativity and talent would be more important than memorization and analysis of opening moves. His approach was to create a randomized initial chess position negating all opening theories.

The starting position for Fischer random chess must meet the following rules: 1) White pawns are placed on their orthodox home squares. 2) All remaining white pieces are placed on the first rank. 3) The white king is placed somewhere between the two white rooks. 4) The white bishops are placed on opposite-colored squares. 5) The black pieces are placed equal and opposite to the white pieces.

There have been talks that Bobby might play competitive chess again...using this variant.

CEBUANOS. International Masters Barlo Nadera and Richard Bitoon, both Cebuanos, made the Southeast Asian Games chess team in the rapid category together with Grandmasters Eugene Torre, Joey Antonio and Nelson Mariano II.
Mark Paragua’s request to be seeded automatically to the team has been rejected by Go Teng Kok, president of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).

Earlier, Mark also did not qualify under the standard time category, which is composed of Antonio, NM Oliver Barbosa, FM Oliver Dimakiling, IMs Ronald Dableo and Jayson Gonzales.

Paragua though still has a chance to make the blitz team category if he participates in the eliminations.

INTER-BARANGAY. St. Francis of Assisi School board member Jorge Aguas said they will sponsor a chess team tournament between Barangays Opra and Lahug tomorrow at the St. Francis gym in Peace Valley, Lahug.

The two teams will compete for the top prize of P3,000. Players for Opra are Robert Sevilla and Patalinjug brothers Jan and Brian. Dante Arguelles, Jojo Santos and Raymund Quijano will banner the Lahug team. They will play four games each. If successful, the school will sponsor a bigger tournament with more teams to coincide with the school’s Founder’s Day.

P.S. Alexander Olis, a resident of Orange Park, Florida and member of the Jacksonville Chess Club, is here for a short vacation. He holds a doctorate degree in soil chemistry and is a professor in Middleburg School. With him is his 18-year-old son, Paolo, also a chess player. Alex is the brother of Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) president Jun Olis.

Chess really runs in the family.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Chess variants (first of a series)

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

It is a credit to the popularity of chess that there are hundreds of variants of the game and a new one is invented almost every year somewhere in the world. In this series, I will mention only those variants that are original or classic, popular and long lasting. This means the original author has long passed away and cannot promote it anymore.

Shogi is the original or classic variant, and is very popular in Japan. XiangQi is also called Chinese chess, which is played in China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and even here in the Philippines.

Shogi is played on a 9x9 uncheckered board and the pieces have the same color. Its enduring popularity can be attributed to its “drop rule,” meaning the captured piece can be returned to the board and used as one’s own, a practice in 16th century Japan where captured mercenaries switch loyalty.

Each player begins with a king, a rook, a bishop, two gold generals, two silver generals, two knights, two lances and nine pawns. Since the pieces have the same color, loyalties are determined by their directional headings.

The King, Rook and Bishop moves are the same as chess. The pawn moves a square forward and captures in the same manner as they move. The gold general may move one square vertically, horizontally or diagonally, except diagonally rearward. The silver general may move one square in all directions except horizontally or straight rearward.

The knight has the two forward-most moves as the orthodox knight. For example a knight on d5 may go to c7 or e7. The lance has the forward-most move of the orthodox rook, keeping always in the same file.

The main difference with orthodox chess is the manner of promotion of the pieces. The silver general, knight, lance and pawn are promoted to gold general. The rook promotes to a dragon king, which has the combined moves of a king and a rook. The bishop promotes to a dragon horse, which has the combined moves of a king and a bishop.

There are other rules but the object of the game is to checkmate the enemy king just like in orthodox chess.

The XiangQi board is made up of 10 horizontal and nine vertical lines. The verticals are interrupted by a central-horizontal void called a river. Two palaces, black and red, are at opposite sides of the board and is distinguished by a cross connecting its four corner points.

Each side has two chariots or rooks, two knights or horses, two elephants or bishops, two mandarins or advisors, one king, two cannons and five pawns or soldiers.

The king can move one square vertically or diagonally and can’t leave the palace even to avoid checkmate. There is no castling. The mandarin moves one square diagonally and restricted to five of the nine squares in the palace.

The bishop moves two squares diagonally but can’t jump. It can’t cross the river. The knight moves like the chess knight but can’t jump. The rook moves like a chess rook.

The pawn moves one square forward and can move diagonally when it crosses the river. It can’t be promoted to a mandarin and can never move backwards.

The cannon is unique. It moves like a rook, captures like a rook and can jump over a piece. There must be exactly one piece between the cannon and the piece it captures. The intervening piece is known as the gun mount.

The object of the game is also to checkmate the enemy king.

I will be discussing more variants in my subsequent columns.

SEAG TEAM. The members of the Philippine team to the Southeast Asian Games under the standard time category (one hour and 15 minutes time control) are Grandmaster Joey Antonio, National Master Oliver Barbosa, Fide Master Oliver Dimakiling, International Master Ronald Dableo and IM Jayson Gonzales. GM candidate Mark Paragua did not make the team as he had a heartbreaking loss in the last round against FM Fernie Donguines.

The Women’s team includes Woman IM Sherrie Joy Lomibao, WNM Shercila Cua, WIM Beverly Mendoza and WNM Aices Salvador.

Cebuanos Richard Bitoon and Therese Gonzales failed in their quest although they still have a chance, as there will be another group of players under the active time control format.

CEPCA SUNDAY. “Expect the unexpected” best describes the Cebu Executives and Professional Chess Association (Cepca) tournament last Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center in Pier 4. Civil Service Commission-Cebu head Fabio Abucejo culminated his string of upsets with a final-round win over Pepe Gador to win the July edition of the club tournament.

El Labunog placed second with a win over eventual third-placer Jun Olis, while Maggi Dionson and this writer were fourth and fifth, respectively.

We also had a new member, Engr. Pericles Fernandez of Pepsi Cola. Welcome to the club, Prix.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

The world’s top players; Cepca July tournament

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The World Chess Federation has released its top-players list as of July 2005.

Tied for first are Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov, who caught up with the former with his wins at Linares and Sofia, both major tournaments.

Michael Adams has dropped out of the top 10 and was replaced by Levon Aronian. Vladimir Kramnik slid down to fifth, while Svidler is now ranked sixth.

Judit Polgar has maintained her position in the top 10 and is the top woman player followed by her sister, Susan.

The world’s top players are 1-2. Anand, Viswanathan (India) 2788; Topalov, Veselin (Bulgaria) 2788 3. Leko, Peter (Hungary) 2763 4. Ivanchuk, Vassily (Ukraine) 2752 5. Kramnik, Vladimir (Russia) 2744 6. Svidler, Peter (Russia) 2738 7. Polgar, Judit (Hungary) 2735 8. Bacrot, Etienne (France) 2729 9.

Aronian, Levon (Armeni) 2724 10. Gelfand, Boris (Israel) 2724
TOP WOMEN PLAYERS. 1. Polgar, Judit (Hungary) 2735 2. Polgar, Susan (USA) 2577 3. Xie, Jun (China) 2573 4. Koneru, Humpy (India) 2531 5. Kosteniuk, Alexandra (Russia) 2516 6. Chiburda-nidze, Maia (Georgia) 2509 7. Stefanova, Antoaneta (Bulgaria) 2501 8. Lahno, Kateryna (Ukraine) 2498 9. Cramling, Pia (Sweden) 2494 10. Kosintseva, Nadezhda (Russia) 2490.

TOP JUNIORS. (18-Under) 1. Radjabov, Teimour (Azerbaijan) 2682 2.Volokitin, Andrei (Ukraine) 2671 3. Navara, David (Czechoslovakia) 2663 4. Timofeev, Artyom (Russia) 2661 5. Nakamura, Hikaru (USA) 2660 6. Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (Azerbaijan) 2646 7. Karjakin, Serjey (Ukraine) 2645 8.
Harikrishna, P. (India) 2645 9. Efimenko, Zahar (Ukraine) 2643, 10.
Cheparinov, Ivan (Bulgaria) 2634.

TOP GIRLS. (18-U) 1. Koneru, Humpy (India) 2531 2. Lahno, Kateryna (Ukraine) 2490 3. Kosintseva, Nadezhda (Russia) 2490 4. Kosintseva, Tatiana (Russia) 2477 5. Zhao Xue (China) 2470 6. Sebaq, Marie (France) 2438 7.

Draqnidze, Nana (Georgia) 2438 8. Paehtz, Elizabeth (Germany) 2421 9.

Poqonina, Natalija (Russia) 2413 10. Korbut, Ekaterina (Russia) 2409.

In this list are the top chess playing countries. The rating represents the average Elo of the country’s top 10 players, followed by its number of grandmasters and international masters. 1. Russia 2713, GM 150, IM 415, 2.

Ukraine 2657, GM 50, IM 167 3. USA 2623, GM 60, IM 96 4. Hungary 2621, GM 36, IM 97 5. France 2620, GM 27, IM 68 6. Israel 2620, GM 33, IM 38 7. Armenia 2618, GM 17, IM 22 8. China 2604, GM 18, IM 12 9. England 2604, GM 33, IM 49 10. Germany 2602, GM 60, IM 174 38. Philippines 2492, GM 4, IM 22.

It was announced during the Filway Open held here in Cebu last May that Mark Paragua has made it as GM. In this list by Fide, however, he is still an IM. Yuriy Kuzubov of Ukraine, who got his final GM norms in Alushta, the same as Mark, is also listed as an IM. This means that Fide has not officially recognized the Alushta tournaments and Mark is not a grandmaster.

The top 10 Filipino players are 1. Paragua, Mark (IM) 2596 2. Torre, Eugenio (GM) 2535 3. Antonio, Rogelio Jr. (GM) 2513 4. Barcenilla, Rogelio (IM) 2507 5. Gonzales, Jayson (IM) 2477 6. Mariano, Nelson (GM) 2466 7. Ranola, Yves(IM) 2466 8. Datu, Idelfonso (IM) 2457 9. Sanchez Joseph (IM) 2452 10. Villamayor Buenaventura (GM) 2451.

PLAYERS TO WATCH. For the first time, Fide has included the 16-U, 14-U, 12-U and 10-U rankings for both Boys and Girls divisions. It is interesting to note that Russia, India and China are well represented in these categories. Our Wesley So should be included in the list below as he is already a Fide master and therefore has a rating of around 2300. I think that he is not yet 12-years-old.

Top Boys (12-U) 1. Negi, Parimarjan (India) 2376 2. Sjugirov, Sanan (Russia) 2358 3. Zeng, Chongsheng (China) 2306 4. Belous, Vladimir (Russia) 2218 5. Abasov Nijat, Azad (Azerbaijan) 2210 6. Lalith, Babu M.R. (India) 2209 7.
Sethuraman, S.P. (India) 2203 8. Sadykov, Ramil (Russia) 2198 9. Strzemiecki, Zbigniew (Poland) 2195 10. Zherebukh, Yaroslav (Ukraine) 2182.

Top Girls (12-U) 1. Myat Thiri, Aung Kyaw (Myanmar) 2208 2. Hou, Yifan (China) 2158 3. Kalmykova, Anastasia (Russia) 2138 4. Chaitanya, V. (India) 2127 5. Tejaswini, Reddy S. (India) 2118 6. Paikidze, Nazi (Georgia) 2083 7.Kashlinskkaya, Alina (Russia) 2075 8.) Bulmaga, Irina (Moldava) 2074 9. Suslova, Alena (Russia) 2061 10. Fastova, Tatiana (Russia) 2058.

For a complete list of players under all categories log on to

CEPCA JULY TOURNAMENT. The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) July Handicapping Tournament will be held this Sunday, 2 p.m. at the Stella Maris Seafarer Center at Pier 4. Format is five-round Swiss with time controls depending on playing strength. New members are welcome to take part.