Saturday, April 16, 2005

Viswanathan Anand, 2004 chess Oscar winner

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

FOR the second consecutive year, Vishy Anand of India won the Oscar for 2004, one of chess’ most coveted awards. He was chosen by 445 chess journalists from over 75 countries, including this columnist.

The balloting conducted early this year gives 13 points to the first placer, 11 to the second, nine to the third down the line until one for the tenth. This is the fourth Oscar for Anand as he also won in 1997 and 1998.

Anand practically won in almost all the tournaments that he played. He started with a victory at the Corus tournament in Wijk Aan Zee, his fourth win at the prestigious event. Next, he easily defeated Veselin Topalov in a two-game match in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Next in line was the Melody Amber tournament, where the players played both rapid and blindfold games. Anand won in the Rapid category, which he has practically dominated in previous years, and placed third in the combined category.

Dortmund is a major tournament in the chess calendar and together with Wijk Aan Zee and Linares comprise the “majors” of chess as only the top players are invited to these tournaments. The format for 2004 was changed to a knockout tournament much like in tennis. Anand defeated Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the finals to claim his third win at Dortmund.

In Mainz, Anand again proved that he is the most dominant player in blitz by beating Spain’s Alexei Shirov, also renowned as a blitz player. He won two games on the Marshall, where the Spanish player was known to be an expert.

Next was the tournament in Sao Paolo, Brazil where he won by an awesome spread of three points.

“I would say I played very convincing chess in Sao Paolo. My win against Morovic is one of my best games this year. I was totally inspired,” Anand said.

CHESS OLYMPIAD. “The Olympiad was more fun than anything else,” said Anand. Here, he performed well to lead his team to a respectable finish in Calvia, Spain. “Although the team finished sixth, third place would have been better. We lost matches by the narrowest of margins.”

In Corsica, Anand was just too hot to handle as he won the event for the fourth time. This year he had only one draw and the rest was a walk in the park.

Estonia was the last event for 2004. Here Anand made history with a perfect score of 5-for-5, including a win over former world champion Alexander Khalifman.

“For me Estonia was a curious destination both as a tourist and chess player. My play there was very stable and a perfect score is not what you make everyday,” Anand said.

Anand says back in 2004, “I think that I have a good chance at winning the 2004 Oscar. I played well in all formats, not only rapid. I am enjoying every aspect; the travel, the events, the results and most of all I am playing chess that is quite creative. My results have been very good.”

Here are the top 10 Oscar nominees for 2004. 1) Viswanathan Anand of India 2) Peter Leko of Hungary 3) Garry Kasparov of Russia 4) Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria 5) Vladimir Kramnik of Russia 6) Michael Adams of England 7) Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan 8) Judit Polgar of Hungary, the only woman on the list 9) Alezander Morozevich of Russia 10) Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine.

NCFP. The National Chess Federation of the Philippines is now a full-pledged member of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) after several rejections in previous years. It is therefore entitled to all the privileges of a member, including voting rights to select the officers of the committee as well as financial assistance for its various projects and allowances to its top players.

There have been moves to increase the number of chess events in the Southeast Asian Games (Seag) to increase our chances of winning the overall event. It is also interesting to note that chess will be included for the first time in the Asian Games in Qatar next year and soon probably in the Olympics in 2012.

CEPCA APRIL. The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association’s April tournament will be held this Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafarer Center at 1 p.m. Format is five rounds Swiss with time handicap depending on the players’ skills.

It looks like a busy month for our local chess players as the Seag qualifying tournaments for Region 7 is now ongoing in Dumaguete City for classical chess and in Cebu on April 21-22 for rapid chess.

Also on schedule is the biggest tournament in Cebu, so far, the Filway Open in SM City on April 23-24.

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