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.