Saturday, July 2, 2005

June review

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

June had several interesting tournaments, notably the Hydra versus Michael Adams, six-game match and the Cebu Executives and Professional Chess Association Open in the local level.

Boy Abugho won both the Talisay Open tournament as well as the Cepca Open, a rare feat as both events attracted a strong field of chess enthusiasts. In the Cepca Open, the second and third placers were Richard Natividad and the up-and-coming Kim Steven Yap.

Making the tournament possible were Cepca members and lawyers Lorenzo Zafico, Boy Tumulak, Jason Genobiagon and Jongjong Melendez. Others were Danny Pestaño, Mandy Baria, Felix Balbona, Maggi Dionson, Norway Lara, Jonard Labadan, Ed Cabantug, Gerry Tomakin and Fred Sandalo.

Another event in June was Cepca’s Monthly Tournament, which Jongjong Melendez ruled. He thus joins previous monthly winners Dante Arguelles, Jerry Rallos, Rene Casia, Fred Sandalo and Richard Abangan in the grand finals in December.

HUMAN VS. COMPUTER. In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a serpent that had 100 heads and would devour people and cattle every time it emerged from the swamp where it lived. Nowadays, it is a 32-processor, hardware-enhanced chess machine that demolished and devoured England’s Michael Adams by a lopsided score of 5.5-0.5 last June 21-27 in London. It was a humbling defeat for the human and Adams has been criticized for poor preparation.

This is an unprecedented defeat and marks the beginning of an era wherein chess computers will reign supreme over humans. The monster machine is able to calculate a staggering 200 million positions per second versus two for the human. Hydra is the strongest computer chess program now, having defeated Shredder, the computer champion, last year in Abu Dhabi in a one-on-one match.

Another man-versus-silicon match took place in the middle of Times Square in New York last June 21. It featured Fide world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov against the Accoona Toolbar, a prototype of the Fritz 9 program, which is based on strategic and tactical understanding rather than brute force. The match ended in a draw with the human sacrificing a piece and the computer defending superbly.

INTERNATIONAL EVENTS. Peter Leko played a rapid chess match against Michael Adams in Miskolc, Hungary last June 2-5. Although the match ended in a draw, 4-4, it was unique as Adams won the first three games and Leko won the next three. The last two games were drawn. Leko is rated third in the world with an Elo rating of 2763 in the last Fide list of April 2005, while Adams is sixth on the same list with 2737 Elo points.

The 18th Ciudad de Leon chess tournament took place in Leon, Spain last June 9-13. Participants were Viswanathan Anand of India, Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, Alexei Shirov of Spain and Magnus Carlsen of Norway. Anand won over Kasimdzhanov in the final, 2.5-1.5.

Jan Timman played against Andrei Volokitin last June 24 also in Leon in a four-game rapid match. The young Ukrainian won over the Dutch, 2.5-1.5.

The European Individual Women’s Chess Championship was held in Chisinau, Moldova last June 10-25 with a record 167 participants. A tiebreak of two games was played between Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine and Nadezhda Kosintseva of Russia as they tied with nine points after 12 rounds. Lahno won the title.

Zoltan Almasi won the Marx Gyorgy tournament in Paks, Hungary, half a point ahead of the ageless Victor Korchnoi last June 12-22. The other players were Krishnan Sasikiran of India, Ferenc Berkes and Peter Acs, both of Hungary, and Emil Sutovsky of Israel.

The 6th European Individual Chess Championship is currently being held at Warsaw, Poland and after 12 rounds, seven players share the lead with eight points each, including Ukraine’s 15-year-old Sergey Karjakin and Vassily Ivanchuk, and Romania’s Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. The tournament started last June 17 and will end on July 3, with a 229-strong field, more than a third of them grandmasters.

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