Saturday, May 28, 2005

Topalov wins Mtel Masters

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The Mtel Masters tournament concluded last Monday in Sofia, Bulgaria with local hero Veselin Topalov winning by a full point ahead of the field. It was the strongest tournament so far this year having an Elo average of 2744.

There was a special rule in this tournament. Drawn games by mutual agreement between players were forbidden and only technical draws may be given by the arbiter.

But the percentage of drawn games was still 60 percent as winning at this level is quite difficult. Repetition of moves was the standard draw offer here.

The conclusion of this unique tournament was dramatic. The situation at the start of the 10th and last round saw Topalov ahead by half a point over Anand but had the black pieces against Kramnik, while Anand had white against Polgar, whom he has a huge plus score in previous games. So, it was expected that Anand might tie for the lead or even win this tournament.

However, neither Anandh or Topalov would play the decisive role – Kramnik lost the match with perhaps his greatest blunder in tournament play, losing a whole piece.

Topalov won four and drew one in his last five games. He tied for first with Kasparov in the last Linares tournament. It is expected that in the next Fide ratings, he will replace Anand as No.1 and Kramnik will go down to no.5 from no. 4 and Polgar will rise to no.6.

WORLD OPEN. More than 2,000 players from all over the world, including quite a number from the Philippines, gathered in Minneapolis this week for the $500,000 Open Chess Tournament – the richest purse with the largest turnout of an open tourney in the world.

The Open section had a $50,000 top prize while the U2450, U2300, U2200, U2000, U1800 and U1600 sections had a top prize of $20,000 each. There were even prizes for U1400, U1200 and even U1000 and unrated categories. Truly a tournament for everybody.

The Open category winner was Zviad Izoria of Georgia with 7.5 pts out of a possible nine. There were 10 players who tied for second with seven points each, with them the comebacking Gata Kamsky of USA and Pentala Harikrishna of India.

Filipinos in this contest were six-pointers Rogelio Antonio and Nelson Mariano, Eduardo Ortiz with 5.5 and Jason Gonzales, Ronald Dableo and Darwin Laylo with five points.

US-based Pinoys who won in the competition were Enrico Sevillano and Anton del Mundo with 6 pts each and Angelo Young 5.5.

CHESS QUOTATIONS. I was cleaning my files yesterday and I came across several sheets of chess quotations that have not yet seen print. These quotes are sayings by famous chess players and have been passed by word of mouth from generation to generation. Rather than let them go to waste, I would like to share a few with you for the wisdom it tells.

“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make people happy.” – Siegbert Tarrasch; “If cunning alone were needed to excel, women would be the best players.” – Albin; “On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not survive long.” – Lasker; “We don’t really know who invented chess, as soon as we discover the culprits, we’ll let you know” – Bruce Pandolfini; “No grandmaster is normal; they only differ in the extent of their madness,” – Victor Korchnoi; “Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something clever when they are only wasting time.” – George Bernard Shaw; “Life is like a game of chess, changing with each move.” – Chinese proverb; “Chess is mental torture.” – Garry Kasparov; “Excellence at chess is one mark of a scheming mind.” – Arthur Conan Doyle; “A man that will take back a move at chess will pick a pocket.” – Richard Fenton; “Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe.” – Hindu proverb; “Chess is so inspiring that I do not believe a good player is capable of having an evil thought during the game.” – Wilhem Steinitz; “Those who say they understand chess, understand nothing” – Robert Hubner; “Play the opening like a book, the middle game like a magician, and the endgame like a machine.” – Spielmann.

Read these quotations slowly and understand them for the lessons they give.

CEPCA. Fred Sanadalo surprised everybody by winning the May tournament of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association over a strong field of 26 players Sunday. Second placer was Vic Sepulveda and third placer was Percival Fiel. Fourth and fifth, respectively, were El Labunog and Jason Genobiagon.

Fred is a survivor, a great asset as a member and deserves to win. He will thus join the monthly winners for the grand finals in December.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Judit Polgar in world championship

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

FIDE has announced that the world championship will finally push through in San Luis, Argentina this September with the following selected players: world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, his runner-up in Libya Michael Adams of England, world No.1 Vishwanathan Anand of India, Nos.2 and 3 Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Peter Leko of Hungary, Alexander Morozevich and Peter Svidler both of Russia, and what a great surprise and achievement, Judit Polgar of Hungary.

This is the first time that a woman will contend for the world championship.

All the players have confirmed their participation in the tournament. The champion will receive $300,000 and the last placer $50,000 out of a total purse of $1 million.

Originally nominated for this championship were Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik but both players have declined. Kasparov has already announced his retirement, while Kramnik has given the flimsiest of reasons.

Kramnik is the current classical champion, however his title is now dubious with the retirement of Kasparov and the cancellation of the Kasimdzhanov-Kasparov match. He was supposed to meet the winner of this match to unify the world title under the terms of the Prague Agreement. He should realize that the Prague Agreement is dead and that the current situation calls for an entirely new ballgame.

NO DRAWS. The reason I admire former world champions Wilhem Steinitz and Bobby Fischer are their fighting spirit and their abhorrence for draws.

The chances of seeing a draw by Steinitz is one percent and the average number of moves in a drawn game by Fischer is over 42 moves, way over the other champions.

The M-Tel Masters tournament is now underway in Sofia, Bulgaria. It is a category 20 with the players having an average Elo of 2744. The players are Kramnik(2753), Anand (2785), Topalov (2778), Adams (2737), Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine (2695) and Polgar (2732).

There is a special rule in place in this tournament – draws are not allowed by mutual agreement between the players. Only technical draws such as a perpetual check or book draws may be given by the arbiter.

In spite of this rule, there were 10 draws out of 12 games after four rounds! The action picked up a bit in round five with two won games out of three and round six turned out to be a slugfest as all the three games were decided.

The surprise leader after round six is Ponomariov with 3.5 points and Anand at the rear with 2.5. This is a double round robin tournament, which means every player plays every other player twice.

NO GAMES. I received an email from Xerxes Anthony S. Calvo ( requesting if I can feature games in my column so they could be played and analyzed by my readers. This is not the first time that I received such requests as ever since the start I have not featured any game whatsoever. The reasons are both personal and practical.

First, although I am a confirmed chess addict (I have played over 15,000 games in the internet not counting club and tournaments) I am just an average club player. I don’t have the capability to annotate games by grandmasters and the average player is not interested in games that are not annotated.

Second, most columns feature a game or two plus maybe a chess puzzle and I want to be different. Third, I want my column to be read not only by chess players but also by those who are just starting to play the game or even by non-players. These people are interested in news and chitchat, not in games.

I believe that a columnist in order to effective should in his own way increase the circulation of the paper by having a wider readership.

Anyway thanks Xerxes for your kind words and more power to you also.

CEPCA MAY TOURNAMENT. Jun Olis would like to inform all members that our monthly tournament is on Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafare’s Center in pier 4 starting at 2 p.m. New members are welcome to join.

I heard that Therese Gonzales, who sometimes plays as guest in Cepca tournaments, has been given a chess scholarship at the Ateneo de Manila University this coming school year. If true, my congratulations as an Ateneo scholarship is very much sought by athletes.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Celebrity chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

SUSAN Polgar, in an interview with Chessbase, lamented the fact that the media is focusing too much on the negative aspects rather than on the good side of chess. She believes the game is captivating, interesting and that there are many other news stories the public can be made aware of.

She was referring to the media coverage before Bobby Fischer was released from Japan and given asylum in Iceland, and Bobby’s distorted views on 9/11, his attitude towards the Jews and anti-American rants.

Susan also emphasized that the game is now extremely popular, hip and cool and has a drug-free competitive environment. It is the most popular game in history as proven by a great number of celebrities who play the game. Find out if your favorite celebrity is here.

CELEBRITY PLAYERS. Claude Akins (Sheriff Lobo), Alan Alda (M*A*S*H), Woody Allen, Lauren Bacall, the Barrymores, Polly Bergen, Sarah Bernhardt, Humphrey Bogart (Casablanca), Shirley Booth (Hazel), Charles Boyer, Marlon Brando, Mel Brooks, Nicholas Cage, Will Smith, Charlie Chaplin, Cher, Lee J. Cobb, Charles Coburn, Bill Cosby, Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone), Timothy Dalton (James Bond), James Darren, Marlene Dietrich, Erik Estrada (CHIPs) Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Peter Falk (Columbo), Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Errol Flynn, Henry Fonda, Michael J Fox, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ava Gardner,
Lorne Greene (Bonanza), Woody Harrelson, Rex Harrison, Katherine Hepburn, Charlton Heston, Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Hope, Anthony Hopkins, Dennis Hopper, John Huston, Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angels), Don Johnson, Boris Karloff, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Kubrick, Jude Law, David Letterman, Peter Lorre, Myna Loy, Marcel Marceau, Dean Martin, Steve Martin, the Marx brothers, James Mason, Walter Matthau, Ray Milland, Carmen Miranda, Yves Montand, Rick Moranis, Paul Newman, David Niven, Chuck Norris, Maureen O’Sullivan,

Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Walter Pidgeon, Jason Priestley (“90210”), Dennis Quaid, Anthony Quinn, Tony Randall, Basil Rathbone, Keanu Reeves (Matrix), Chris Rock, Jill Saint John, Susan Sarandon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George C. Scott, Tom Selleck, Peter Sellers, Omar Sharif, Will Smith, Jimmy Stewart, Oliver Stone, Barbra Streisand, Rod Taylor, Shirley Temple Black, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Rudolph Valentino, John Wayne, Orson Welles, Guy Williams (Zorro) and Julia Roberts.

SPORTS AND MUSIC. There are a few sports figures that also play chess.

These include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Boris Becker, Larry Bird, Jim Brown, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Capriati, Reggie Carter, Bill Cartwright, Michael Chang, Sean Elliot, Roger Federer, Ron Guidry, Evander Holyfield, Bobby Jones, Ivan Lendl, Lennox Lewis, John McEnroe, Latrell Sprewell, Gene Tunney, Bill Walton, and Emil Zatopek.

In the music business, chess players include Ludwig van Beethoven, Bono (U2), Sonny Bono, David Bowie, Enrico Caruso, Pablo Casals, Ray Charles, Frederic Chopin, Bobby Darrin, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Sticky Fingaz (Onyx), Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Kupra, John Lennon, Sean Lennon, LL Cool J, Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie, Moby, Willie Nelson, Yoko Ono, Gregor Piatigorsky, Helen Reddy, Tim Rice, David Lee Roth, Arthur Rubinstein, Schumann, Artie Shaw, Frank Sinatra, Ringo Starr, Isaac Stern and Sting.

WRITERS. Writers who had time for chess include Isaac Asimov (I, Robot), Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz), Art Buchwald, Lewis Carroll, Cervantes, Charles Dickens, Dostoevsky, Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), George Elliot, Goethe, O. Henry, Kipling, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Norman Mailer, Hermann Melville, Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), George Orwell, Edgar Allan Poe, Peter Roget (thesaurus), Salman Rushdie, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Isaac Singer, John Steinbeck, Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), Tennyson, Tolstoy, Kurt Vonnegut, H.G. Wells, and William Yeats.

Many thanks to Hall of Fame member Bill Wall whose devotion to chess is legendary for this list of celebrities. Bill is probably the most prolific writer of the game (29 chess books and hundreds of articles) and is a confirmed chess addict.

Cepca May tournament. The May tournament of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Assciation is on the 22nd , Sunday, at the Stella Maris Seafarers Center in pier 4 starting at 2:00 p.m. New members are welcome to join. We will also be giving certificates of membership to those who have not yet received them.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Leko and Ivanchuk; scrabble updates

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I HAVE been showcasing players who will inherit the crown from Garry Kasparov, who announced his retirement from competitive chess. Previously featured were Viswanathan Anand of India, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia and Michael Adams of England. This time it is Peter Leko of Hungary and Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine.

Peter Leko, 26, became a grandmaster at 14, the youngest GM at that time. He has an Elo rating of 2763, which makes him the No.3 player now behind Anand and Topalov. While in his teens, he predicted that he would eventually become world champion.

He has scored a chess grandslam by winning all the three “majors:” Dortmund in 2002, Linares in 2003 and Wijk Aan Zee this year.

Under the terms of the Prague Agreement, which was intended to unify the world championship, Leko emerged as the challenger to classical world champion Vladimir Kramnik by winning Dortmund 2002. The winner of the Kramnik-Leko match will then meet the Fide champion (1st Ruslan Ponomariov and then later Rustam Kasimdzhanov) vs. Garry Kasparov match to determine the undisputed world champion.

After being postponed several times, the Kramnik-Leko match finally took place in Switzerland on Sept. 25 to Oct. 18. Leko almost became world champion by leading the match by one point going to the last game. But Kramnik won the last game, thereby retaining his crown with a 7-7 draw.

He has been chosen by Fide to be one of the participants for the world championship scheduled later this year.

IVANCHUK. Vassily was a child prodigy and was expected by his peers then to seriously challenge Kasparov in the 1990s. He has an Elo rating of 2739, making him No.5 in the world behind Anand, Topalov, Leko and Kramnik.

His major tournament wins include Corus (Wijk Aan Zee) in 1996 and three times in Linares: 1989, 1991 and 1995.

When he won Linares in 1991, I thought that he would eventually become world champion. He came very close to being one much later but lost in the finals to Ruslan Ponomariov in 2002.

Ivanchuk has been in the top 10 for the past 12 years or so and even going up to No.3 but he has played poorly in one on one matches due to lack of endurance and bad nerves. He easily gets nervous and blunders in critical positions. However, in the Calvia Olympiad and several big tournaments after that, he has apparently overcome this flaw in his game and has risen to where he is now. His style of play is unpredictable, which is why he is always a serious threat to any player.

On the personal side, his fellow chess players describe him as the most eccentric of all. Anand says of “Big Chucky,”, “He is very intelligent…but you never know what mood he is in. Some days he will treat you like a long-lost brother, the next day he ignores you completely.

“Some players have a word for him. He lives in planet Ivanchuk. I have seen him totally drunk singing Ukrainian poetry and the next day give an impressive talk. For a while, he was trying to learn Turkish. Don’t ask me why, everyday is a surprise with him.”

SCRABBLE. Reynante de la Cerna is a good friend in our bingo games in the casino and over the mahjong table, and is also one of the Philippines’ top scrabble players. He truly loves the game and has even played abroad representing our country. As it is also a mind game, this column will from time to time feature scrabble news updates. I also know very well their tournament director Roger Abella, who is also a national master in chess.

I have personally observed a scrabble tournament as we sponsored one in Handuraw Café several months ago, and the intensity is the same as in a chess tournament. They know of words that I don’t even know existed.

Reynante has sent me an e-mail outlining the World Scrabble Championship in London, sponsored by Mattel Inc. and Mattel (UK) this coming Nov. 17-20.

Format is a 24-round modified Swiss system and the top two players will contest a five-game final. The official dictionary will be Scrabble Words International, while Webster’s 10th and Chambers 1998 are to be used for adjudication of words over nine letters.

Guaranteed prize money is $30,000 with $15,000 going to the winner. The Philippines is allotted three entries out of 104 available from 43 countries.

Only one was able to solve the knights/knaves puzzle the other week. His name is Christian Riconalla.