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.

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