Friday, December 29, 2006

Top stories of the year

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

JUST like in golf and tennis, there are four tournaments considered “Majors” in chess and they are Corus, Morelia/Linares, Sofia and Dortmund. This, of course, does not include the granddaddy of them all, the Olympiad and the World Championship.

In Corus, Anand of India and Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria shared equal first in Group A, Magnus Carlsen and Motylev also shared Group B, while Suat Atalik of Turkey won Group C.

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Levon Aronian of Armenia won the Morelia/Linares tournament while Topalov again snared Sofia. Kramnik showed his class by winning Dortmund.

The Chess Olympiad is held in even years and is organized by the World Chess Federation. This year’s version, the 37th Olympiad, was held in Turin Italy.

The surprise men’s winner was Armenia winning the gold medal followed by still another surprise, China, which won the silver and the USA, bronze. In the women’s section, Ukraine won the gold followed by Russia and then China.

China’s rise in chess has been phenomenal and experts are of the opinion that within the next 10 years it might overtake even the giant, Russia. Now, most of the top women players are Chinese.

The next Olympiad will be held in Dresden, Germany in 2008.

Easily the top chess story of the year was the unification match between Classical champion Vladimir Kramnik against Fide champion Veselin Topalov from Sept. 21-Oct. 13 in Elista, Kalmykia, Russia which was mired in scandal. Dubbed “toiletgate” by journalists covering the event, Topalov accused Kramnik of cheating by using a computer program using wireless technology, which he accessed by going to the bathroom. Kramnik was counted as going to the bathroom 25 times, which is not normal.

Kramnik forfeited Game 5 after refusing to play when the appeals committee altered the conditions of the match. The match was tied 6-6 after 12 regular games and Kramnik won the rapid tiebreak, 2.5-1.5.

Another significant event of the year was the match between the newly-crowned champion Kramnik against the latest chess program Fritz 10, which the machine won, 4-2, without losing a game. The match was played in Bonn, Germany from Nov. 25-Dec. 5. Kramnik was guaranteed 500,000 euros had he won the match.

In the first game observers believed Kramnik missed a win and the computer won the second after Kramnik made what might be called the “blunder of the century” when he overlooked a threatened mate-in-one. Games 3, 4 and 5 were drawn and the computer won the 6th game for a 4-2 win and the match.

The match is extremely important in the history of man and a milestone in the development of artificial intelligence.

On the local level, Anthony Makinano is now a Fide master while Lingky’s son Kimkim Yap has now come of age and considered the best of the Cebu-based players.

He recently won the knockout tournament held the other week at E-Mall and Bibo’s chess club over a field that included almost all the top players in Cebu.

Bojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy continued his sponsorship of chess all-year round.

Incidentally, the top Cebuano players are International masters Rico Mascarinas, who is based in Singapore together with Lingky as instructors and Manila-based players Richard Bitoon, Barlo Nadera and Europe-resident Joseph Sanchez.

The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association Inc. had a successful year with its monthly tournaments and the holding of regular tournaments for kiddies 13 years old and below. Bombi Aznar, an honorary member of Cepca, founded the Pardo Chess Academy for children and encouraged the further training of children on the barangay level.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa Claus came early for Mike, Dante and Bong

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

LAST Sunday, Dec. 17, was a red-letter day for members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association Inc. (Cepca), the country`s premiere chess club. On that day, we had the induction of the new officers for 2007, Christmas party and Grand Finals. Also inducted were the new members of the club as well as a side tournament for those who did not make it to the Grand Finals.

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Venue was at the Stella Maris Seamen Centre and there was food galore and beer flowed like there was no tomorrow.

Everything went according to plan except that the program started 30 minutes late and our guest of honor and inducting officer, honorable Vice-Mayor Michael Rama was, as usual, on time and he had to wait until all the officers were present.
Entertaintment was provided by Zaldy Tabanao, a member of the club and a professional singer.

Inducted as officers for 2007 were Emmanuel “Mat” Matuco,president; Dante Arguelles, internal vice- president; Percival Fiel, external vice-president; Jun Olis, press relations officer and secretary; Felix Balbona, treasurer; and Rene Casia, auditor. Also elected were chairmen of the important committees of the club namely, tournaments—Mandy Baria, ways and means—Norway Lara and FYP-membership.

Inducted as new members were Solon Bagalihog, Caesar Fernandez, Mike Banebane, Rey Reroma, Ronald Hamac, Glenn Dakay, Benjamin Sanchez, Bernabe Sanchez and Manuel Abucay

Playing in the Grand Finals were the following monthly winners : Dante Arguelles-January, Jun Olis-February, Maggi Dionson-March, Percival Fiel-April, Jongjong Melendez-May, Mike Banebane–June, Fabio Abucejo-July, Joe Atillo-August, Mandy Baria-September, Ramon Pangilinan-October, Nikki Estenor-November. NM Bombi originally seeded to the Grand Finals did not play due to a prior commitment.

Grand winner was Dante Arguelles with 7 wins, one draw and 2 losses for a total score of 7.5 pts. Second placer was Maggi Dionson and third Nikki “boy” Estenor.

In the side event among non-qualifiers, the winner was Bong San Pascual and second Jessa Balbona.

Grand Prix winners (those who had the most number of points in the monthly tournaments) were led by Miguel Banebane followed by Maggi Dionson, Mandy Baria, Felix Balbona, Dante Arguelles Rene Casia, Percival Fiel Junard Labadan, Joe Atillo and Manny Abucay.

Dante, Bong and Mike received as their special prize a Timex Executive watch each, courtesy of Timex Phils. Inc. All the qualifiers and grand prix winners also receive special prizes.

Asian Games. For the first time, chess became a part of the Asian Games recently staged in magnificent splendor in Doha, Qatar last Dec.1-15. The Philippines was represented by Ronald Dableo, Darwin Laylo and Jedara Docena.

Three gold medals were at stake, one each for men and women in rapid control and mixed team under classical control.

Men’s gold medalist was the surprising Murtas Kazhgaleyev of Kazakhstan, silver to Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam and bronze to Bu Xianghi of China. Laylo could only managed 8th place while Dableo placed 15th.

Women’s winners were Koneru Humpy of India, Zhao Xue of China and former world champion Zhu Chen formerly of China but now playing for Qatar due to her marriage to a Qatari Grandmaster. Jedara was a respectable 12th placer amidst very strong competition.

In the mixed team event, India as expected, snared the gold medal while China was a solid 2nd.The surprise 3rd placer was Iran. The Philippines was around the middle at 8th.

Friday, December 15, 2006

David Bronstein, in memoriam

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IF you are very observant, in the James Bond movie “From Russia with Love,” the early part of the picture shows a game being played by “Kroonsteen” and “McAdams.” It was based on an actual game between Bronstein and and Boris Spassky in the 1960 USSR championship.

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One of my childhood heroes while I was just learning how to play chess in the early fifties (so now, you can guess how old I am) was the late David Bronstein who passed away a few days ago at the age of 82. My late father had the good habit of cutting clippings in the newspaper featuring games of top players like Mikhael Botvinnik , Vassily Smyslov, Bronstein and Paul Keres, the leading players at that time.

According to various articles culled from the Internet and Chessbase, David Bronstein was born on Feb. 19, 1924 in Bila Tserkva in Ukraine. He defeated Boleslavsky in the candidates’ tournament in Budapest in 1950 to become the challenger for the world title against reigning champion Mikhael Botvinnik. He later became close with Boleslavsky and married his daughter Tatiana, who was at his deathbed when he died.

He was described as a creative genius and master of tactics by chess lovers all over the world and the story goes that he had been forced to lose the match to Botvinnik.

Bronstein came close to actually taking it from Botvinnik, when he was leading by a full point up to game 22. He lost game 23 and then drew 24 and the match, which left the incumbent world champion Mikhail Botvinnik in place. Under Fide rules, in case of a tie the champion retains his title.

He himself wrote in his book The Sorcerer's Apprentice: "I have been asked many, many times if I was obliged to lose the 23rd game and if there was a conspiracy against me to stop me from taking Botvinnik's title. A lot of nonsense has been written about this. The only thing that I am prepared to say about all this controversy is that I was subjected to strong psychological pressure from various origins and it was entirely up to me to yield to that pressure or not."

In the same book, he said, “I had reasons not to become the World Champion, as in those times such a title meant that you were entering an official world of chess bureaucracy with many formal obligations. Such a position is not compatible with my character.”

Bronstein and Keres were, together with Viktor Korchnoi and Bent Larsen, the strongest players not to have won the world championship title.

When Viktor Korchnoi defected from the Soviet Union in 1976, Bronstein was one of the few Soviet grandmasters who refused to sign a letter denouncing him. As punishment, his stipend, a salary paid to all chess grandmasters in the USSR, was suspended, and Bronstein was banned from competing in national tournaments.

He was an early advocate of speeding up competitive chess, and introduced a digital chess clock that adds a small time increment for each move made, a variant of which has become very popular in recent years.

He has also denied rumors that he was related to the revolutionary Leon Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein, in his book the The Sorcerer`s Apprentice.

Cepca news. Just like the Asean Summit, our Grand Finals, Christmas party and induction of new officers and members led by president-elect Emmanuel “Mat” Matuco was moved from its original schedule of Dec. 10 to 17 due to the typhoon, which after all was just a shower here in the city. Inducting officer is Vice Mayor Michael Rama. Venue is still at Stella Maris near the Supercat terminal in pier 4 and starts at 1pm.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Sad fact: machines are superior

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THROUGH movies such as the highly successful Terminator series, Independence Day, I Robot and other man vs. machine films, man has always been fascinated by the possibility of machines having artificial intelligence.

Programmers have selected chess as the first step towards intelligent machines because of the enormous amount of calculation involved and the popularity of the games as programs can be sold at a big profit to a very large market.

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Just as I predicted, Deep Fritz 10 won over current world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia by a score of 4-2 last November 25- December 5th in the National Art Gallery in Bonn, Germany. The computer won two games including the last in the six-game match. The sponsor was RAG AG, one of Europe`s largest energy companies. Prize fund was one million euros with Kramnik guaranteed half of that and the full amount if he wins.

This is the fourth time that Deep Fritz has played one-on-one against a human as previously it played against Robert Hubner, Gary Kasparov and Kramnik and all games were drawn.

In this match Kramnik faced a new and better version. According to chessbase, “In 2002 the Bahrain version of Deep Fritz (against Kramnik) was able to calculate “just” 2.7 million positions per second…. Deep Fritz 10 now runs at eight million positions per second, which allows the program to search to a depth of 17 to 18 ply in the middlegame…This means that Fritz is looking nine full moves ahead for both sides.”

In Bahrain, Kramnik took an early lead 3-1 but the computer equalized in the end and the series ended a 4-4 draw. Kramnik claimed fatigue in the second half of the match.

The Man vs Machine mania all started with a big splash in 1989 when Garry Kasparov was paired against a program named Deep Thought. Deep Thought was able to calculate ¾ million positions per second per dual-processor. In comparison, the number given for Garry was three positions per second.”

Kasparov easily won the match and the pride of the human race by a score of 2-0 and later commented “I think the computer needs to be taught something – how to resign!"

In 1994 Intel sponsored a round robin blitz tournament featuring 17 GMs and a computer running Fritz 3, played in Munich, Germany. The hardware was an Olivetti with the latest Intel processor, a Pentium 90 MHz. Fritz beat GMs Chernin, Anand, Cvitan, Gelfand, Wojtkiewicz, Hjartarson, Kasparov, Kramnik and Short to finish equal first with Kasparov. In the playoff Kasparov demolished the machine 4:1.

In 1995 Kasparov played 2 matches against computers, the first against Genius, which he beat 1.5-0.5 in Cologne and the second in London vs. Fritz 4, also by a score of 1.5-0.5.

In 1996, Kasparov again defeated a new program named Deep Blue 4-2 and later commented, “Although I did see some signs of intelligence, it's a weird kind, an inefficient, inflexible kind that makes me think I have a few years left.”

His prophecy turned out to be wrong a year later when he lost the rematch to Deep Blue 3.5-2.5. “What we have is the world's best chess player vs. Garry Kasparov.”– IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, when asked why the match got so much attention. IBM also dismissed any rematches, although this was one of the highly publicized events of the year and IBM got a lot of mileage.

So, what we have right now is a sad but true fact that the Machine is now superior to Man in a battle that requires a high amount
of intelligence and memory.

Cepca News. Mandy Baria has announced that the chess Grand Finals of the club will be this Sunday Dec. 10 at Stella Maris starting at 1pm. There will also be a side event among non-qualifiers.

Emmanuel “Mat” Matuco, together with the other officers, will be inducted 13th president of the Cebu Executives and
Professionals Chess Association Inc. To be inducted also are the new members of the club in 2006. Inducting officer is Vice Mayor Michael Rama, a known chess buff.

The Club`s Christmas party follows after the tournament.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Kiddies tournaments in barangays

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE top three leaders on chess in Cebu namely NM Bombi Aznar, Boojie Lim as represented by Marvin Ruelan and The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) had a fruitful meeting last Monday at Handuraw Café in Mabolo to promote chess development of children thru the holding of tournaments on the barangay level.

It was agreed that there will be a series of tournaments in the barangay to determine their representatives to the Inter-barangay grand team tournament which will be held on January 13 and 14 as part of the Sinulog celebration.

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Members of Cepca will be responsible for the holding of tournaments on the barangay level in coordination with the Barangay captain and other leaders. The tournament is open to those born in 1992 and later and 6 players will form the barangay team, 4 regulars and 2 alternates.

It is expected that a continuing series of chess tournaments and clinics will be in place next year to further develop our young talents.

The Philippines has been left behind not only in Asia but even in the Asean region in the development of chess. There is a big gap between the current top players and the new ones. We need to train and identify new talents. The last Southeast Asian games showed that Vietnam is now way ahead of the Philippines and in fact won all the gold medals at stake. It was a shameful performance and a painful wake-up call.

I am calling the attention of barangay leaders to get in touch with me at 233-8678 if they are interested to hold a kiddies tournament in their respective territories.

Cepca news. The last of the monthly tournaments was held last Nov. 19 at the Bibo Chess club and the qualifier is Nikki Estenor. He will join the following monthly winners for the Grand Finals which will be held at Stella Maris on December 10: Dante Arguelles (January), Jun Olis (February), Maggi Dionson (March), Percival Fiel (April), Jongjong Melendez (May) , Miguel Banebane( June), Fabio Abucejo (July), Joe Atillo (August) , Mandy Baria (September), Ramon Pa-ngilinan (October) and Bombi Aznar (honorary member and seeded to the finals).

Mandy Baria has also decided that our Christmas party will coincide with the grand finals on Dec. 10. For those who did not qualify to the finals, there will be a side tournament to be participated also by selected kiddie players.

Dec. 10 will also be a triple celebration as the new officers and members of the board of trustees for 2007 will be inducted into office. The new officers are Emanuel Matuco-president, Dante Arguelles –vice president, internal, Percival Fiel-vice president , external, Jun Olis –secretary/ pro, Jeffrey Solis –treasurer, Felix Balbona- auditor, Mandy Baria-chairman, tournaments, Boy Pestano-membership and Norway Lara- ways and means.

New members will also be inducted, namely Solon Bagalihog, Jun Bongo, Caesar Fernandez, Benjamin Sanchez, Manuel Abucay, Selencio Felijan, Miguel Banebane, Rey Reroma, Ronald Hamac and Glenn Dakay.

We would like to congratulate Miguel Banebane for posting the highest total score in the monthly tournaments for 2006 and the board of trustees has decided to award him a special prize—a Timex executive wrist watch.

Also to be given special prizes are the following members: Dante Arguelles, Joe Atillo, Felix Balbona, Mandy Baria, Rene Casia, Maggi Dionson, Percival Fiel, Junard Labadan and Manuel Abucay. Together with Banebane, they are the top 10 performers this year.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Most profound chess puzzle

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

White to move and win. Take a good hard look at this puzzle. You would think that it is an easy win for black as white cannot promote his d pawn due to a double check at f7.

Send me an email for the solution to this puzzle.

A year ago we were invited to Mactan by Jun Olis as it was “Fiesta sa Opon.”

Edmund Suralta mentioned about a puzzle so difficult that it eluded a group of grand masters who were trying to solve it except Mikhael Tal.. .I promised to the group that I will look and write about the puzzle as it is said that it is the most profound chess problem ever conceived.

I forgot all about it and never did some serious research.

I wanted to feature in my column today the just concluded Tal Memorial Tournament which was held in Moscow from November 5-19 and what do you know, Chessbase did a feature on the famous puzzle.

Here is the story. A long time ago, April 1987, there was a super GM tournament in Brussels and the winner was Ljubomir Ljubojevic in a tie with Garry Kasparov. Among the participants were Karpov, Larsen, Korchnoi, Timman, Short and our Eugene Torre and a few others.

English GM Jim Plaskett, who was visiting the tournament, laid out on the table this famous puzzle and urged the GMs present to solve it. The press was trying to solve the puzzle the whole day. Occasionally, one of the super GMs would join in the analysis after their games but nobody was able to solve it. Except Mikhael Tal.

Tal ,who tried to solve the puzzle unsuccessfully for 10 minutes, left the room and then suddenly appeared again after an hour Apparently he had solved the problem after a walk in the park.

There is a little story behind this puzzle. It was initially said that the composer of the puzzle was a lowly taxi driver from Moscow and Tal, so impressed by the puzzle, looked for him and found out later that he had died.

According to Frederic Freidel of Chessbase who was in Brussels, the author is Gijs van Bruekelen who composed it in the 70s and showed it to friends. Later, he decided to have it published in 1990 in the magazine Schaken Nederland.

By the way, here are the final results of the Tal Memorial Tournament 2006: 1-3. Peter Leko ,Ruslan Ponomariov ,Levon Aronian 4.Boris Gelfand 5 5-7.Shakrijar Mamedyarov, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler 4.5 8-9.Alexei Shirov. Magnus Carsen 3.5 10. Alexander Morozevich 3.0.

This tournament is a category 20 and considered one of the strongest this year.

Arroyo Cup. Here are the winners of the 9 rounds President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo International Chess Tournament which finished yesterday in Manila -1. Peng Xiang Zhang China 7.5-$6,000 2.Alexander Onischuk USA 7-$4,000 3.Victor Mikhalevski Israel 7-$3,000 4.Varuzhan Akobian USA 6.5 $ 2,500 5.Ni Hua China 6.5-$2000 6.Rui Wang China 6.5-$1,500.
Cebuanos Richard Bitoon and Anthony Makiniano had only 5 points.

Man vs. Machine. The much awaited Man vs. Machine will take place tomorrow in Bonn,Germany featuring current world champion Vladimir Kramnik playing against the computer chess program Deep Fritz.

It is sponsored by Rag Akiengesellschaft, one of Europe`s largest energy companies and Kramnik is guaranteed $500,000 and another $500,000 if he wins the 6 game match.

I predict that Kramnik will lose this match. Sorry, folks.

Lane Jennings wrote in 1988 in the FUTURIST: “How chess players react to the growing impact of computers….may provide a glimpse to the future of mankind`s relationship with machines.”

Jennings cited three areas where machines enjoy a distinct edge. 1. They are fed entire books while we must rely on frail memory. 2. They can rearrange the board in the twinkling of an eye while we can't tinker with the pieces. 3. They are immune to fatigue and distractions from noise, climate, crowding or poor lighting.

Friday, November 17, 2006


By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Manny Pacquiao taking drugs? Our meeting the other day among members of Cepca turned into an uproar when one of our members Jun Olis, informed us that the Nevada Boxing Commission is investigating reports that the camp of Erik Morales has formally lodged a protest that Manny is taking drugs.

Whether it is anabolic steroids or testosterone is not known. The Nevada Commission is further investigating another report that Manny is also taking another food booster, known in Philippine circles as DP.

Manny has submitted a sample of his urine and the laboratory results have confirmed that indeed Manny is taking ibuprofen and paracetamol known in the Philippines as Alaxan. As for the substance DP, it could only be Datu Puti.

Kidding aside, this column is about boxers who are chess players and vice-versa. In various interviews, Manny has said that among his hobbies, his favorite is playing chess and billiards.

One of the greatest nights in heavyweight history between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis in March 11, 1999 turned out to be a disappointment as the match was called a draw even though Lewis obviously won the fight.

Promoter Don King later criticized Lewis “When you have a man on the ropes you are supposed to finish him not play chess with him...” in obvious reference to the fact that both Lewis and Holyfield play chess.

It has been estimated that Lewis’ playing strength in chess is about Elo 2000, which means that if ever he would become a member of Cepca he can snare a monthly tournament.

Before his fight with Vitali Klitschko, Lewis proposed that there should also be a chess match as Vitali is a known chess buff and is in fact considered a better chess player.

The much awaited Lewis vs. Klitschko fight took place in June 21 2003, with Lewis considered off-form weighing a career-high 256lbs. Klitschko was on the way to a major upset when the referee stopped the fight due to a severe cut above Klitschko‘ s left eye and Lewis was declared a winner by TKO. Vitali and his brother Wladimir, who is also a boxer, are avid chess players.
They are so good that a good number of articles have been written about their chess capability.

According to an article in “In October 2002, the Klitschko brothers Vitaly and Wladimir visited the ChessBase office in Hamburg. The reason they gave on their web site at the time was that, a day before the final round of the $1 million Man vs. Machine event in Bahrain, their friend chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik had enlisted their help to wear down the machine. So they organized a pre-bout sparring with Fritz.

Playing on the Fritz Server against the program in Bahrain, Vitali proved that his “Punching Professor” tag is more than just a stage name! He almost took the machine over the full distance. “It may have been a points decision for Deep Fritz, but the computer at least had its pride dented.” By the way Vitali has a Doctorate degree in Sports Science and Philosophy and was just recently crowned heavyweight champion.

Remember Francisco “Kid” Balug? He was a popular boxer in the 60s and the Philippines-Orient champion in the featherweight division. He plays chess regularly at the Collonade chess club and is a masseur on the side. He is very good especially if you have arthritis like me. He comes to the house regularly and we talk about his boxing years and chess.

Chessboxing. How weird is weird? Does chess and boxing mix? If water and oil mix in an emulsion so does chess and boxing. In fact, there is an organization, the World Chess Boxing Organization, WCBO, which supervises its activities. Its motto is “Fighting is done on the ring and wars are made on the board.”

The first world champion was Lepe Rubingh and the first European champion was Tihomir Tischko of Bulgaria.

Here are the rules as laid down by WCBO: “A match between two opponents consists of up to eleven alternating rounds of boxing and chess sessions, starting with a four-minute chess round followed by two minutes of boxing and so on. Between rounds there is a one-minute pause, during which competitors change their gear. The form of chess played is “blitz chess” in which competitors have a total of 12 minutes. Competitors may win by knockout, checkmate, a judge’s decision or if their opponent’s twelve minutes of chess time elapses.”

According to the Chessboxing website: “Recently, about 400 people gathered in Cologne, to see two chessboxing fights.

Zoran ‘The Priest’ Mijatovic played the Queen’s Gambit, but ‘Anti Terror’ Frank Stoldt was very well prepared. In the 7th chess round Mijatovic was three moves away from being checkmated, so he resigned. Stoldt also controlled the boxing rounds.” So there you are. Chessboxing anyone?

Cepca news. Mandy Baria, President of the Cebu Executives and Professional Association, has announced that the November tourney will be this coming Sunday, the 19th, at the Bibo chess club starting at 2 p.m.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Latest about Bobby Fischer

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Bobby was in the headlines again recently when the Union Bank of Switzerland UBS, one of the world`s biggest banks, transferred his deposits amounting to about $3 million without his permission and against his will, to a bank account in Iceland where he now resides.

In an interview a few months ago, Bobby said he has been in dispute with the bank’s intention to terminate his account without any reason other than saying that it (bank) does not want to have a relationship with him. The money has been in deposit with the bank since 1992, which he presumably earned from his match with Boris Spassky in 1992 in Yugoslavia where he was guaranteed $5 million.

Anything that has to do with Bobby is always news to chess players all over the world. Vladimir Kramnik of Russia has just won the world championship from Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and dozens of chess articles have already been written comparing champions from the past to Bobby.

A few weeks ago, listeners to a private radio station in Iceland were surprised to hear in the early morning hours an interview with Fischer who talked about his dispute with the Swiss bank UBS, the United States --- which he believes is run by extremists --- Jews, North Korea and china and about chess, past and present.

I will deal only with the chess portion as this is a chess column and not anything else.

In the interview, Bobby reads from a book “Parting with Illusions,” which was written by Vladimir Pozner in 1990 about the Cold War:

“I remember Mark Taimanov…losing his match with Bobby Fischer by the implausible score of six to zero….. So when Taimanov fell to Fischer six-zip, it was a sensation that rocked the chess world. It was, in fact, such an unbelievable affront that the Soviet Chess Federation stripped Taimanov of his title as Grand Master of the USSR. Later, when several other Grand Masters were blitzed by Fischer, the Soviet Chess Federation realized its mistake, but refused to acknowledge it. To this day, Mark Taimanov retains the rank of International Grand Master but has not had his Soviet ranking restored.”

Bobby also talks about champions from the past.

“Some kid of fourteen today, or even younger, could get an opening advantage against Capablanca, and especially against the players of the previous century, like Morphy and Steinitz. Maybe they would still be able to outplay the young kid of today. Or maybe not, because nowadays when you get the opening advantage not only do you get the opening advantage, you know how to play, they have so many examples of what to do from this position. It is really deadly, and that is why I don’t like chess any more.

“Morphy and Capablanca had enormous talent, Steinitz was very great too.

Alekhine was great, but I am not a big fan of his.

Maybe it’s just my taste. I’ve studied his games a lot, but I much prefer Capablanca and Morphy. Alekhine had a rather heavy style, Capablanca was much more brilliant and talented---he had a real light touch. Everyone I’ve spoken to who saw Capablanca play still speakS of him with awe. If you showed him any position he would instantly tell you the right move…

“Capablanca really was fantastic. But even he had his weaknesses, especially when you play over his games with his notes he would make idiotic statements like “I played the rest of the game perfectly.” But then you play through the moves and it is not true at all….. He wanted to change the rules [of chess] already, back in the twenties, because he said chess was getting played out. He was right. Now chess is completely dead. It is all just memorisation and prearrangement. It’s a terrible game now. Very uncreative.”

So there you are. In the interview, Bobby says that he does not want to play chess anymore.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Chess deaths II

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Harry Nelson Pillsbury was the United States chess champion from 1897 until his death of syphilis in 1906. The stigma surrounding the disease makes it unlikely that he sought medical treatment. At that time the disease was potentially fatal.

Along with Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer ,Pillsbury ranks as one of America`s greatest chess players ever .He was a very strong blindfold player and could play checkers and chess simultaneously while playing a hand of whist and reciting a list of long words.

Another disease potentially fatal at that time was tuberculosis, the scourge of the third world. Chess players who died of the disease were Rudolf Charousek (1873-1900) ,Cecil de Vere (`1845-1875) and David Janowsky (1868-1927).

Charousek was a Jewish Hungarian player who was described by Reuben Fine as the John Keats of chess He was one of a few players who a plus score against world champion Emanuel Lasker who said “I shall play a championship match with this man someday”.

Cecil Valentine De Vere (1845-1875) was the pseudonym of Cecil Valentine Brown, the winner of the first official British Chess Championship, in 1866.

He played chess effortlessly and elegantly without recourse to chess study or theory; in this respect he was not unlike Capablanca. His meteoric rise to fame and equally dramatic decline has been compared to Morphy and he is often cited as 'The English Morphy.”

David Janowsky was a French-Polish player who is considered one of the best players in the 20th century.Like Anand today, he was a very fast player and is known for his play with the two bishops, Capablanca says of him: “When he is in form he is a devastating player.”

Thomas Wilson Barnes born 1825 was one of the strongest English players in the 1850's. He's best remembered for having more wins against Paul Morphy in friendly play than anyone else. Being overweight he decided to reduce his size, but the loss of 130 pounds in 10 months was more than his system could handle and resulted in his death in 1874.

Henry Buckle is known more in history as the author of the monumental work, the History of Civilization, which is considered one of the greatest literary feats ever. It is said that he read 10 hrs a day for 17 years in preparation to writing this book. On his travel to Beirut and then Nazareth he was infected with typhoid fever and died in Damascus in 1862.

Dying due to car accidents were Janos Flesch (1933-1983) and Guillermo Garcia (1953-1990). Flesch was a Hungarian international master who is best known for claiming a world record simultaneous exhibition by playing 52 boards. Guillermo Garcia Gonzales was born 1953 in Cuba. He earned the IM title in 1974 and the GM title in 1976. He also won three Cuban Championships (1974, 1976, 1983).

Borislav Kostic was a professional chess player from Serbia. From 1923–1926, Kostic travelled all over the world, including Australasia, the Far East, Africa, India and Siberia, demonstrating his exceptional skills, generating interest in chess and forging new links with people across the globe. He was undoubtedly a brilliant publicist and ambassador for the game, although this probably prevented him from realising his full potential as a player. He died of blood poisoning from a scratch in 1963.

Nikolai Krylenko is considered the father of Soviet chess. Of the 14 classical champions 9 are Russians and the man mainly responsible for this phenomenon is Krylenko. However, he was executed during one of Stalin`s purges in 1938.

Vera Menchik died as a result of the bombing of London and was of British-Czech origin.She was the first female world champion in 1927 and defended her crown 6 times.

Friday, October 27, 2006

(Holly)woodpushers, 007 and Madonna

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Sean Connery rose to fame as the 1st cinematic James Bond in the movie Dr. No although Ian Fleming was quoted as saying “he is not exactly what I envisioned“ as the fictional British agent OO7.

He went on the play Bond in six more movies eclipsed only by Roger Moore who did seven.

Connery plays chess in between movie takes and participated in tournaments while he was in school. He was voted “sexiest man alive“ by People magazine in 1989 and received the Oscar as best supporting actor playing the cop Malone in the movie Untouchables.

Another OO7 agent who plays chess is Timothy Dalton, who portrayed Bond twice in “License to Kill” and “The Living Daylights”. He is also famous for playing Heathcliff in the movie Wuthering Heights.

Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie are so serious about chess that they are taking lessons from former Scottish champion Alan Norris. She has two chess-related music videos, one which features her playing chess with her lover in “The Power of Goodbye,” and another video showing her playing chess with a man in a beach-house in an extremely scenic video where she disappears into the sea after kissing the man.

Cher is a famous singer, songwriter, director, author and all-around entertainer. She has won an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy and three Golden Globe awards among others. She is one of the most respected and enduring entertainer of all time. She and former husband Sonny Bono are avid chess players.

There is a joke that Chuck Norris once tried to beat Garry Kasparov in chess.

When he lost, he won in life by roundhouse kicking Kasparov in the face. Kidding aside Chuck is a good chess player and one of the most successful action stars of all time.

Dennis Quaid is a versatile actor, performing in both dramatic and comedic roles and is famous for his unique grin. Aside from playing chess, he is a scratch player in golf and was named top golfer among the Hollywood set by Golf Digest. He was formerly married to actress Meg Ryan and his elder brother Randy is also an actor and his sparring partner in chess.

Bill Cosby is one of America‘s most admired entertainers known for his warmth both onstage and off. He later starred in his own series, The Bill Cosby Show. Cosby rarely uses profanity in his act and has criticized rap music in the past. Some of his episodes in his show have scenes that depict chess as lessons in life.

CEPCA NEWS. Former president Jun Olis and current president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association, Mandy Baria, have finalized the Cepca vs. Lapu-Lapu IV match, which will be played at Bibo Chess Club along Jakosalem St. this coming Sunday Oct.29 at 1 pm. It will be recalled that in previous years the score is 3-1 in favor of the descendants of Lapu-Lapu.

Playing for Lapu-Lapu are Joel Fernan, Jun Caballes, Tommy Tampus, Tata Casas, Rene Romero, Norman Olaybar, Armand Apa, Ramil Resuera, Aldrin Daculan, Lando Torres, Cezar Fernandez,Tony Ycong, Ferdinand Solis, Kidz Godinez, Arnel Abellana, Neil Amores, Nilo Bonganciso, Ariel Potot, Jojo Muralla and Jun Olis.

Cepcans who will try to even matters with their worthy opponents are Dante Arguelles, Richard Abangan, Ben Dimaano, Rene Casia, Joe Atillo, Ramon Pangilinan , Jun Quidlat, Art Yclino, Percival Fiel, Jongjong Melendez, Felix Balbona, William Retanal, Mike Banebane, Maggi Dionson, Junard Labadan, Zaldy Tabanao, Fred Sandalo, Fabio Abucejo, Manuel Abucay, Harrison chua, Danny Pestano and Mandy Baria. I will only play if necessary.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Game of the Century

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Normally I don’t feature games. However, I will make an exception this time as today is the 50th anniversary of the game between Bobby Fischer and Donald Byrne that is generally accepted at the greatest game ever played.

Chessbase featured this immortal game in its website yesterday and the annotation is theirs. So, take out your chess sets and enjoy,
This game has been labeled the “Game of the Century” and has been discussed in countless chess books, most encyclopedias and motivated me and countless others to take the game seriously.

Fischer was only 13 years old when this game was played and Byrne was one of the top 10 players in the USA at that time.

Donald Byrne-Robert James Fischer. Rosenwald Memorial, New York, 1956.

1.NF3 NF6 2.C4 G6 3.NC3 Bg7 4.d4 0-0 5.Bf4 d5 6.Qb3 dxc4 7.Qxc4 c6 8. e4 Nbd7 9. Rd1 Nb6 10.Qc5 Bg4 11.Bg5?!

11…Na4!!!. Reuben Fine calls this a brilliant reply. Botvinnik calls this a “stunning and shocking move,” while Fred Reinfeld called it “one of the most magnificent moves ever made on the chessboard.” Rowson says it is “one of the single most powerful moves of all time.” 12.Qa3. This is forced, probably the only playable move in the position. [12.Nxa4 The knight sacrifice cannot be accepted: 12...Nxe4 13.Qc1 (13.Qxe7 Qa5+ 14.b4 Qxa4 15.Qxe4 Rfe8 16.Be7 Bxf3 17.gxf3 Bf8 and Black is winning) 13...Qa5+ 14.Nc3 Bxf3 15.gxf3 Nxg5 and Black is clearly better.]

12...Nxc3. A kibitzing GM here said that Black was simply lost in this position. 13.bxc3 Nxe4!! 14.Bxe7 Qb6!

15.Bc4 Nxc3! 16.Bc5 Rfe8+ 17.Kf1

17...Be6!!! The move that brought the 13-year-old instant worldwide fame.

Fine says, "An astounding reply...which wins in all variations". "To have foreseen this spectacular queen sacrifice several moves in advance – as Fischer must have done – is extraordinary," writes Graham Burgess.

18.Bxb6 Bxc4 19.Kg1 Ne2+ 20.Kf1 Nxd4+ 21.Kg1 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nc3+ 23.Kg1 axb6 24.Qb4 Ra4! 25.Qxb6 Nxd1.

The rest is a mopping operation which Bobby conducts with absolute precision. Byrne is stubborn and plays on against the 13-year-old. 26.h3 Rxa2 27.Kh2 Nxf2 28. Re1 Rxe1 29.Qd8+ Bf8 30.Nxe1 Bd5. Instead of simply pushing and promoting a queenside pawn, the young Fischer plays for mate. 31.Nf3 Ne4 32.Qb8 b5 33.h4 h5. Rawson notes that every black piece is defended, “a sure sign of good technique.” 34.Ne5 Kg7 35.Kg1. To avoid the pin...Bd6. But now it is a forced mate for Black.

35...Bc5+ 36.Kf1. 36.Kh2 Nd2 threatening 37...Nf1+ 38.Kh3 Bxg2# 37.Kh1 Ra1+ 38.Kh2 Nf1+ 39.Kh3 Ra2 and mate to follow.

36...Ng3+ 37. Ke1 Bb4+. There were shorter mates: 37...Re2+ 38.Kd1 Bb3+ 39.Kc1 Ba3+ 40.Kb1 Re1#; or even 37...Bb3 38.Qh8+ Kxh8 39.Nxf7+ Kg7 40.Nd6 Re2#. 38.Kd1 Bb3+ 39.Kc1 Ne2+ 40.Kb1 Nc3+ 41.Kc1 Rc2#
Cepca news. Mandy Baria has announced that the October tournament of the club is on the 22nd Sunday at Stella Maris starting at 1:30 p.m.

Congrats to the winners of the United Architects of the Philippines District C-1 played at the The Gaisano Bowlingplex last Oct. 14. Champion was Ronald Hamac of Lapu-Lapu Chapter, 2nd Jeffrey Solis of Cebu Chapter, and 3rd Glenn Dakay of Sugbu Chapter.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Annoying your opponent

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Veselin Topalov had a point when he complained to the organizers that Kramnik was going to the bathroom more often than necessary, suggesting unfair conduct. But I don`t think that he believed Kramnik was cheating, he was just annoyed. And so would I if my opponent stands up and go to the rest room 25 times (not 50 times as earlier reported).

As a backgrounder Vladimir Kramnik and Topalov are playing a unification match in Elista, Kalmykia, Russia for the world championship and the score now stands at 5.5-5.5 after 11 games. The 12th and last game was still being played last night and by the time you read this we will know who the winner is or if there would be tiebreaks.

According to the rules of the match if the score is level after 12 games, four tiebreak games shall be played. Time control is 25 minutes per player plus 10 seconds increment.

If the score is still level, two blitz games will be played with time control at five minutes per player, plus 10 seconds increment for each move. And if the score is still level, a single decisive sudden death game will be played with black having five minutes and white in a must win situation with six minutes.

If you want to win in chess and you don’t want to take the hard route by studying, annoying your opponent is a must. The best way is to upset his power of concentration.

There are several ways to annoy your opponent. When the chess club was still in the corner of Sanciangco and Pelaez Sts., I recall a player whom club regulars call “Karaoke” as he had the penchant of singing while playing chess. He usually sings whenever he is ahead to unnerved his opponent.

Talking is one way of distracting your opponent. Talk directly and point out his bad moves and telling him that his position is hopeless and when he complains to the arbiter, deny ever talking to him. Another common method is talking to yourself or praying loud to God.

Pretending to have a cold by sneezing or coughing and blowing your nose will distract your opponent and he will think that your illness is contagious and pass on the germs to him.

If your opponent is a slow player complain loudly or yawn or tap your fingers on the table and show him that you don’t like slowpokes.

If smoking is allowed (tournaments nowadays have a no smoking rule) blow the smoke directly at his face. Among the trickiest of players is world champion Emanuel Lasker. Although he only smokes the finest of Havana cigars, he invariably appears during tournament play smoking the vilest and lowliest of cigars. Once the great master Maroczy conceded a game rather than endure Lasker’s smoke.

Staring at your opponent deliberately with the intention to hurt him usually works if your opponent is a woman or still a kid.

Another way to annoy your opponent is to wear loud clothes or oversize neckties. The late Dr. Kanowsky, a very nervous player, claims to have lost a championship in Austria because his opponent wore a lavender and red necktie.

It is said that Frank Marshall goes into a panic if someone congratulates him before a game.

After all is said and done the best way to annoy your opponent is to make a strong move!

Cepca news. Mandy Baria, president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association, has announced that the October tournament of the club will be on the 22nd at the Stella Maris center starting at 1pm.

Also there will be a kiddies tournament this coming Sunday at the Bibo’s chess club along Jakosalem St. starting at 1 p.m. If you want to expose your child to competitive chess now is a good chance.

NM Bombi Aznar`s chess clinics in Pardo Chess Academy (near Pardo market) for kids will start at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and will be handled by Bombi himself and candidate masters Pipo Moreno and Boy Alejandre.

Friday, October 6, 2006


By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IIt is a testament to computer programs nowadays that in the highest level of chess such as the world finals currently being played in Elista ,Kalmykia, Russia, one camp is accusing the other of cheating by using a computer program, which in this case is Fritz 9 plus some sort of wireless technology.

The current situation has been labeled “toiletgate” by some journalists in obvious reference to the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Nixon and the indictment of some of his staff.

The crisis in Elista was sparked off by a protest by the camp of Topalov, a decision by the appeals committee,its rejection by Kramnik, and subsequent forfeit of game 5.

To start with, Kramnik won the 1st two games of the match in an innovative display of defense against the attacking Topalov and drew games 3 and 4 to lead 3-1.Then came the bombshell.

Silvio Danailov, manager of Topalov, filed a complaint that Kamnik was going to his toilet more often than necessary and demanded that a correction be made, casting suspicion of unfair conduct.

The appeals committee composed of its chairman Georgios Makropolous agreed to receive the complaint, which
ccording to observers was a mistake as the complaint should have been addressed to the match director, Valery Bovaev.

Having made the first mistake of accepting the complaint, the appeals committee made the second mistake by issuing a ruling that Kramnik`s bathroom door should be locked.

Kramnik`s camp issued a statement rejecting the decision of the appeals committee and demanding that the members be replaced because of its obvious bias in favor of the opponent. “The protests of the Topalov team and the suspicions of the press release by Topalov are utterly disgraceful and are touching Kramnik`s privacy.”

Topalov filed another protest demanding that the players must be accompanied by an assistant arbiter when they go to the bathroom or else he won’t shake hands with Kramnik.

Game 5 is about to start but Kramnik was not around. The chief arbiter, Geurt Gijssen, pressed the clock and the game begun. When Kramnik`s flag fell, he had officially lost as Topalov signed the scoresheet together with Gijssen. The score is now officially 3-2.

Kramnik now threatens to withdraw from the match if the result of game 5 is not cancelled and the championship is in jeopardy. Fide president hurriedly returned to Elista from a summit with President Putin and took over the entire match.

At midnight he conferred with Kramnik and the next morning with Danailov. After intense negotiation with both parties, he decide to replace the appeals committee but upheld the forfeit of game 5.

Just an hour before the scheduled start of game 6, Kramnik issued a statement saying “he will in fact play game 6 but under protest and conditional to a later clarification of the status of game 5. I had to assess between personal interests and those of the entire chess world.”

Games 6 and 7 have been played with both games ending in draws and the score now is 4-3 in Kramnik`s favor.

Did Kramnik cheat? Danailov issued a statement yesterday that “ after very detailed analysis of all the games of the match we would like to present to your attention coincidence statistics of the moves of GM Kramnik with recommendations of the chess program Fritz 9.”

The report is highly technical and could not be easily understood unless you analyze the games with the chess program, but a brief summary shows that in certain sections of game 1 63% of Kramnik`s moves were in accordance with the first line recommendations of Frizt 9, 87% in game 2 ,86% in game 3 , 75% in game 4 and 78% in game 6 for an average of 78% for all 5 games.

Friday, September 29, 2006

3 World Championships in September

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THIS month is a little bit out of the ordinary as three championships are being held namely Blitz World Championship, Seniors and the unification match between Fide Champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Classical Champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia.

The World Blitz Campionship, a 16- player round robin, was a one day affair held in Rishon Le Zion, Israel last Sept. 7 just as the invasion of Lebanon by Israel came to a standstill. Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler tied for 1st with 10.5 pts each. In the tiebreak, Grischuk had to win as he had the white pieces which he dutifully did.

Judit Polgar, the only woman player, was up there with the leaders, while Anand, the favorite to win, stayed close. The final standings and the top 5 winners: 1. Alexander Grischuk, 10.5—$14,400; 2. Peter Svidler, 10.5—$10,800; 3.Teimour Redjabov, 10— $6,750; 4. Vishy Anand, 10—$6,750; 5. Judit Polgar, 9—$5625.

Victor Korchnoi, 75, who played in three finals against Anatoly Karpov in the 70s, won the 16th World Seniors Championship in a field of 136 participants. It was held in Arvier, Italy last Sept. 11-23 and was an 11 round Swiss. Also held was the Women’s senior tournament won by Ludmila Saunina.

One of the most prestigious tournaments in the chess calendar is the Spanish team tournament. It is held in 3 stages. Group 1 was held in Olie from Sept. 6-10 while group 2 was played in San Sebastian from Sept. 13- 17. The finals will be held in Lugo from Nov. 3-4, 2006.

The qualifiers from group 1 are Intel Tiendas UPI with members Ivanchuk, Radjabov, Vallejo Pons, Bruzon , Volokitin, Eljanov, Illescas Cordoba, and Reverte Albox Unicaja with members Dreev, Krasenkow, Rustemov, Movsesian and Sutovsky.

In group 2, the qualifiers are Linex Magic with players Aronian, Morozevich, Ponomariov, Shirov, Karjakin, Sargissian, Rublevsky and Ajoblanco Cuna De Dragones with its players Svidler, Adams, Mamedyarov, Jakovenko, Harikrishna and Timofeev.

Kramnik leads. I have been sleeping quite late the past several days following the live coverage of the Topalov vs. Kramnik championship match on the internet. You can follow the live coverage of the match on,,, and

Game one lasted for 61/2 hours and was a fighting 75-move win by Kramnik. The game should have been a draw but Topalov pressed for a win, blundered and lost.

Game two was one of the most exciting matches I have seen in a long time and could probably be the turning point of the championship. Topalov missed a mate in two and lost again in 63 moves. Game three was also a fighting draw.

Makinano. GM Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam won over IM Ronald Dableo of the Philippines in the 11th and final round to win the 3rd IGB Dato` Arthur Tan Malaysian Open Chess Championship held in Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur from Sept. 21-27.

Actually, four players were tied for the lead, but Dao won on tiebreak over IM Oliver Dimakiling who placed 2nd. Cebuano Anthony Makinano, a familiar figure in local tournaments, scored 7 points to attain Fide Master status.

Architects. Cepca member and treasurer-elect Jeffrey Solis is organizing a chess tournament among architects under District C-1 of the United Architects of the Philippines, which will be held on Oct. 14, Saturday, at the Gaisano Bowlingplex in Banilad.

Only men and women members of the district can join. Registration fee is P150 and games start at 1pm. Prizes and surprises await the top finishers. Those who are interested to join can call Jeffrey at cell no. 0920-508-4338.

Inter-barangay. NM Bombi Aznar is planning to hold an inter-barangay chess tournament among kiddies 14 yrs old and below. Barangay sports leaders can contact me at cell no. 0915-507-0286.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Neo and the other Hollywoodpushers

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I have featured in previous articles, actors and actresses who play chess like Humphrey Bogart, who used to make a living “hustling” passersby in Times Square and Central Park; Charles Boyer, who had a rating of about 2000; and Julia Roberts, who can give tournament players a run for their money.

Also featured before, among others, were actresses Ava Gardner, Morgan Fairchild, Kate Jackson and singer Barbra Streisand, who was also the classmate of Bobby Fischer in grade school, Will Smith, Nicolas Cage, Frank Sinatra, who is also known as the “Chairman of the checkered board” and Marlon Brando the “godfather of chessplayers”.

Woody Allen, actor, producer and director claims that he did not make the high school chess team because he was “too short.” His previous wife, Mia Farrow, also plays chess. It will be recalled that they had a protracted legal battle where Mia accused Woody of sexually abusing their seven-year-old adopted daughter, Malone. The judge eventually concluded that the charge was inconclusive.

Another avid chess player is Ben Affleck, who had a high-profile romance with actress Gwyneth Paltrow after her break-up with Brad Pitt, and with Jennifer Lopez. Among his successful movies are the Sum of All Fears, Pearl Harbor and Armageddon. He is also a good poker player, having won the California Championship in 2004, earning $356,000 and qualifying to the World Poker Tour final table in 2004.

Keanu Reeves, not related to our Keana Reeves, is a highly successful actor best known as Neo in the action film trilogy Matrix. He gave a dozen Harleys to his stunt men in Matrix Reloaded and gave several million dollars to the special effects technicians in Matrix. He has never reconnected with his estranged biological father. who served time in prison. It is said that once he sees a chessboard, he cannot leave without playing the game.

Tom Selleck is best known for his starring role in the long-running television show Magnum P.I. His good looks, muscular physique, moustache and sense of humor make him popular for almost all kinds of movies.

Sylvester Stallone achieved his greatest success in a number of action films, notably the Rocky and Rambo series. He is also a director, producer and screenwriter. When he starred in Rocky I, his salary was $23,000. Now, he averages $20 million per movie. He partly owns the Planet Hollywood restaurants together with Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was voted by his classmates in high school to “most likely die in the electric chair”.

Al Pacino is regarded by many as one of the greatest actors of his generation. Among his movies are the Godfather series, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, City Hall and Cruising. He rarely grants interviews and has never been married. He was voted as No. 1 greatest movie star of all time by channel 4. He is also well known for playing chess between movie takes.
More (Holly)wood pushers next time

CEPCA NEWS. The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association had its yearly election last Sunday at the Stella Maris Seafarer Center. Emmanuel Matuco, Genera Manager of CIPDI (Aboitiz Industrial Park) was elected president, succeeding Mandy Baria, who will still continue as president until yearend. Other officers elected, who are at the same time members of the board of trustees, are Dante Arguelles (vice president internal), Percival Fiel (vice president external), Jun Olis (secretary/pro), Jeffrey Solis (treasurer), Felix Balbona (auditor, FYP-membership), Norway Lara (ways and means) and Mandy Baria (tournaments).

A lot of my friends are asking where is Free-For-All, the highly popular column of my previous editor in Sun.Star Cebu, Paul Taneo. Well, I have good news. You can still read his Ludlum–style of writing at Enjoy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Finally a ‘true world champion’

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

After a hiatus of almost 13 years, chess will finally have an undisputed world champion when classical world champion Vladimir Kramnick battles Fide Champion Veselin Topalov on Sept. 21 to Oct.13 in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, Russia. The prize fund is $1 million, to be divided between the players equally, regardless of the final result.

The match is intended to “end the confusion after the unfortunate Schism which happened in 1993.” To recall, then world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from Fide after a serious disagreement with its president Florencio Campomanes and formed another organization, which held a separate championship match. Kasparov won against Nigel Short in 1993 and Vishy Anand in 1995 but lost to Kramnik in 2000. Kramnik retained his title after a draw against Peter Leko in 2004.

Meanwhile, Fide had a series of champions under the knockout format culminating in 2005, when Topalov won the championship in San Luis, Argentina after a double-round robin match against seven others.

The Kramnik-Topalov match will consist of 12 games, the winner is the first player to score 6.5 pts or more. If the score is tied after 12 games, there will be four rapid tie-break games. If the match is still tied, two blitz games will be played. If still tied, a decisive blitz game will be played, white will be given six minutes and black five minutes. Black wins in case of a draw.

Time control is two hours for the first 40 moves, one hour for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game plus an additional increment of 30 seconds after move 61. For the tie-break games, the rate of play will be 25 minutes plus 10 seconds increment for each move.

TOPALOV. He is a 31-year-old player from Bulgaria and is the highest rated player now with an Elo of 2813. He won the 2005 chess Oscar after an incredible series of successes with a win in Linares (tied with Kasparov), the M-Tel Masters in Sofia, which included Anand, Kramnik, Ponomariov (2002 Fide champion), Adams and Judit Polgar, making it the strongest tournament for the year with an average rating of 2744.

In San Luis, Argentina he demolished the field with six wins and a draw in the first cycle and drew all his remaining games in the next cycle for a performance rating of 2890, thus becoming Fide world champion.

This year he was joint first with Anand at Corus and again won the M-Tel Masters 2006. He is definitely on a roll and his morale very high.

KRAMNIK. He is also 31 years old and is from Russia and is rated No. 4 in the world with an Elo of 2743. He became cworld champion in 2000 by defeating Garry Kasparov in a 16-game match in London and retained his title with a draw in a 14-game match in Switzerland against Peter Leko of Hungary.

He is also on a roll this year after winning the gold medal in the Turin Olympiad with a performance rating of 2847 and Dortmund 2006 against top players Levon Aronian, Peter leko, Peter Svidler, Adams, Baadur Jobava and Arkadi Naiditsch.

Kramnik and Topalov have played 39 games against each other with Kramnik ahead on 10 wins, 24 draws and 5 losses.

A survey among chess players I met has Kramnik as the favorite to win, the same as mine.

Cepca news. The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association will have a general assembly at the Stella Maris Seafarer Center this Sept. 17 starting at 1p.m. The purpose of the meeting is to elect the officers and members of the board of trustees for the year 2007.

After the elections, the September monthly tournament will be held. The first three rounds will be a handicapping format and the next four rounds will be a 7-minute blitz.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Cheating with a yogurt in chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Compared to other sports, cheating (to win, that is) in chess are relatively few and almost negligible among professional players until the advent of computer programs and wireless technology.

Cheating to lose is, however, another matter. The most popular tournament format nowadays is the Swiss System, where it is possible to have an acceptable winner even if the participants number in the hundreds, as players with the same score are pitted against each other.

Cheating occurs usually in the last two or, most often, last round where games are fixed and money exchanged in return for throwing the match. It usually happens in the top two or three boards and the arbiters are hopeless in preventing it. This practice is common in local and international matches where the players know each other very well.

There is a gray area in the game known as “grandmaster draws” where some form of cheating occurs. During the ’70s, when the Soviet Union was the predominant power in chess, they usually drew their games and ganged up on the rest. It was only Bobby Fischer who, by his enormous will to win and incomparable talent, demolished the Russians and became a legend up to this day.

YOGURT SIGNAL Last July, in the World Open in Philadelphia, a scandal occurred when two players were accused of cheating using wireless technology. It seems that a player, who was one of the lowest- ranked in the main tournament, was confronted by the tournament director for a string of wins against much stronger players.

He retired to the bathroom where he spent 45 minutes and after that he lost all his remaining games.

GM Larry Christiansen later analyzed one of his games by using the computer program Shredder. The last 25 moves matched those of the computer.

The other player, later identified as Steve Rosenberg, was found to be using a wireless receiver known as a “phonito” and was disqualified.

The most comical of cheating allegations occurred during the Match of the Century in 1972, when Boris Spassky’s second, Efim Geller, accused Bobby Fischer’s camp of disturbing Spassky’s concentration. The Icelandic police later swept the tournament hall of electronic devices and found two dead flies in the lighting system.

Another comical accusation of cheating was during the World Championship in Baguio City, when Victor Korchnoi accused Anatoly Karpov of cheating by drinking yogurt in several colors, suggesting that these were signals.

Also both camps employed hypnotists to “bother” each other, with Karpov employing a certain Dr. Zukhar and Korchnoi hiring a member of a local cult who was accused of murder.

BLUES. An allegation by Garry Kasparov that he was cheated by IBM in his loss to the computer program Deep Blue in 1997 in Philadelphia shocked the entire chess world, which could not believe that IBM would do such a thing.

Kasparov claimed there was human interference in the second game, won by Deep Blue, when the machine refused to move to a position that had a decisive short-term advantage – an act that showed a very human sense of danger.

Deep Blue, which was able calculate two billion positions per second, was retired after the match.

During the inter-collegiate chess championship in the US several years ago, one college played a match against the University of Chicago, which had a Pinoy player in their line-up at board one, Angelo Young, who is also a strong player. His opponent was the late GM Alexander Wocjiewicz, who was studying in that college in only one subject and enrolled just for chess tournaments. I don’t know if you can call this cheating.

I featured Alex in this column several weeks back as he died just last July and was a Cebu visitor in 1998. He was a regular guy who was fond of karaoke bars and ice-cold beer—like me, Jun Olis, Art Ynclino, Jojo Muralla, Jun Montes and Dante Arguelles.

Friday, September 1, 2006

The ‘holy men’ of the checkered board

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

If a chess team were to be formed among holy men, the team captain would be a woman, St. Teresa of Avila, a major figure of the Catholic Reformation and the patron saint of chess players.

She is a Doctor of the church and a monastic reformer. She wrote that we should play a “spiritual chess” with the Beloved of our hearts and that we should checkmate Him. She adds that He cannot escape from our moves and would not even wish to.

Another saint who plays chess is St. Charles Borromeo, who was so enamored of the game that his superiors reprimanded him and asked him what he would do if the world would come to the end and he would be playing chess. “Continue playing,” he replied.

Ruy Lopez was a Spanish priest who was the 1st unofficial champion of the world in the 16th century . He wrote the book, Libro de la invencion liberal y arte del juego del axedrez, which is considered the first fundamental book on chess. The most popular opening in chess is the Ruy Lopez, which is named after him

SECOND. Henrique Mecking is a grandmaster who trained for the priesthood and was hailed as the “Next Fischer” being rated third in the world in 1977, behind Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi. In 1979 he was stricken with the near fatal illness myasthenia gravis and it took him 12 years before he could recover. He sometimes play in tournaments, although he has not joined the world’s elite.

William Lombardy is a former Catholic priest who is famous in chess history as the official “second” of Bobby Fischer in the Match of the Century against Boris Spassky. He won the World Junior Championship in 1957 with a perfect score of 11-0, the only time it has been done. Because of this, he was awarded by Fide the grandmaster title without receiving the International Master title.

John Owen was ordained and became a vicar of Hooten from 1862–1900 and was one of England’s best players. He popularized the move 1. e4 b6, Owen’s defense. It is considered a hyper modern defense and he used it to win a game against Paul Morphy in1858.

It is well known that the late Pope Leo XIII’s recreation in his lifetime was chess. It is said that a favorite opponent of His Holiness, Father Guila, would sometimes take the game so seriously as to bring upon himself a mild rebuke from the Pope and a little homily upon the necessity of Christian resignation and self control.

HUNTERS. St. Thomas Beckett was one of the most pious and devout Archbishop in the 12th century and his best friend was Henry, later King Henry II of England. They hunted and played chess together, people said the two had “one mind and one heart”. He was martyred because of his defense of the church. He was canonized in 1173.

Cardinal Richelieu was a French Cardinal who was very influential and became chief minister of King Louis XIII. He is famous for creating the musketeer units, which was immortalized in the book by Alexandre Dumas “The Three Musketeers.” His favorite sparring partners in chess was the King himself and the Queen, who was rumored to be his lover.

Dr. Billy Graham is considered “the most potent evangelist in American history” and was listed as No.7 in Gallup’s list of admired people in the 20th century. He has sometimes mentioned chess when preaching and also compared the game to life.

Pope John Paul II is one of the most beloved and influential pope in history. In his youth he was a polyglot athlete, actor, playwright and an avid chess player. Earlier I wrote that the Popes was a composer of chess problems but I later learned that this was a hoax.

So there you are, if you are a chess player you are indeed in good company.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A busy August for chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

This has been an extraordinary month with a lot of tournaments in the local, national and international scene, highlighted by the return of the great Gary Kasparov to the game. All along, I always had the belief that Gary will, from time to time, play again although this was an exhibition match.

The event was held in Zurich the other day, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Credit Suisse and featured his long time rival Anatoly Karpov, Victor Korchnoi and the No.1 women’s player Judit Polgar.

Kasparov and Karpov tied for first in the match.

In the local scene, the Cebu leg of the Shell National Youth Active Chess Championship was held at the SM Entertainment Plaza early this week. The winners were Eric Abanco in the Juniors Division and 11-year-old Jerich Cajeras in the Kiddies.

On the national scene, the biggest tournament of the year, the 3rd Prospero Pichay Sr. Memorial Open with a total prize money of P300,000, was held last Aug. 12-14 at Cantillan, Surigao del Sur.

The surprise winner was NM Ernesto Fernandez of Pagadian, as our GMs opted not to play in this Fide sanctioned tournament for “fear” their Elo ratings will go down. What a shame!

Here are the final standings: 1st, Ernesto Fernandez (P100T); 2nd, IM Ronald Dableo (P60T); and 3rd–8th (P10T each), IMs Manny Senador, Darwin Laylo, Barlo Nadera and Richard Bitoon, NM John Paul Gomez and Cebuano Anthony Makiniano.
Voltaire Sevillano shared 9th to 12th and won P5,000, while Carlos Moreno and Eden Diano won P3,000 each for finishing in the top 20.

International activities for this month were a handful. The China vs. Russia Summit was held in Ergun, Mongolia last Aug. 10-20, China won 51.5-48.5. Russia won the Men’s title, while China won the Women’s crown.

The annual Chess Classic Mainz also took place in Germany last Aug.15-20. Viswanathan Anand was the rapid match winner, while Levon Aronian won in the Fischer Chess 960. Rustam Kasimdzhanov won the Ordix Open, while Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was second on tiebreak but won the combined Chess 960 and Ordix Open. Natalia Zhukova won the Ladies Division in the Ordix Open, while Lajos Portisch was the best performer in the seniors division.

The 81st French Championship, Abu Dhabi International chess festival, The Montreal Empresa International A and B, Rubenstein Memorial, Staunton Memorial and the British Open were also played this month.

POKER. I will feature news about this current rage in Cebu as I know a lot of friends who are into to this game, either online or against real people. The most popular version is Texas Holdem and you can watch it being played several times a week on cable.

According to Nicnic Climaco, who introduced me to and, two of the more popular websites (there are more than 10 now), which you can download from the Internet. You can bet with either play money or real dollars for as low as $0.02 or you can play in hundreds or even thousands.

Games are played 24 hours a day and there are as many as 50,000 people playing at the same time.

I understand that Texas Holdem is now being played in several spots in Cebu, among them Baseline, Country Club, Kalye 80s along Sepulveda St., Tisoy’s Sportsbar along Fortuna St. in Mandaue, Sandtrap in Banilad, Rajah Park Hotel in Fuente, and Badgers, two blocks north of Country Mall.

Steve Henning sent me an e-mail describing Badgers as ‘the place” to play poker in Cebu. It also has pool tables, several TVs, ample space and excellent food. I will be visiting and observing these places soon, together with Nicnic .

CEPCA.The Club’s monthly tournament will be held at Bibo’s chess club this Sunday at 1 p.m. Format will be five rounds thematic as follows: 1st round: e3, 2nd: e4-e5 King‘s pawn, 3rd: c3 Sarragosa,4th: d4-d5 Queen’s pawn and 5th: d3 Miesses.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chess-playing Nobel Prize winners

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The Nobel Prize is generally recognized as the highest commendation an individual can receive. It is awarded to people or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to society. Compared to others, the Nobel Prize nomination and selection is a long and rigorous process, and the winners are highly respected.

It is said that all great men play chess. It is not a surprise then that there are a good number of Nobel winners who play chess.

I have already written before about Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat who both won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. Almost everybody knows that Albert Einstein, 1921 Physics winner, was an avid chess player. Another peace awardee was Yasser Arafat in 1994.

For his peace efforts in the Vietnam war, Henry Kissinger won the 1973 peace award, while Willi Brandt won the 1971 award for the relaxation of tensions in eastern and Western Europe .

Samuel Beckett (1969, literature) had a lifelong passion with chess. He played a lot of games with Marcel Duchamp. He gives a move-by-move chess game in “Murphy” and one of his plays is titled “Endgame.”

Elias Canetti (1981, literature) wrote a 1935 book titled “Auto da fe,” in which the main character was a guy named Fischer who wants to become champion of the world. Please note that Bobby Fischer was born in 1943. Strange coincidence.
George Bernard Shaw (1975, literature) once said that “Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time.”

Sinclair Lewis (1930, literature) had such a passion for chess that he hired secretaries to play chess with him during the last years of his life. He is the author of “Main Street” and “Elmer Gantry.”

Robert Robinson (1947, chemistry) was an ardent chess player who was president of the British Chess Federation from 1950-53. He did extensive research on organic chemistry.

William Yeats (1923, literature) wrote that that the subjective goal of chess is self preservation, or more specifically self maintenance, and that it is impossible to win without losing some of one`s own pieces along the way, in an allegory to life.

Gerard Debreu (1983, economics) published his famous monograph, Theory of value: An axiomatic analysis of Economic Equilibrium, which shows that there exists a price system for which the aggregate excess demand correspondence vanishes.

Other chess playing Nobel winners are John Cornforth (1975, chemistry) who did extensive research on organic chemistry; William Golding (literature, 1983), author of “the Lord of the Flies;” Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1982, literature), author of a lot of fiction and screenplays in Spanish; Boris Pasternak (literature, 1958), famous for his novel “Dr. Zhivago” and Wolfgang Pauli (physics, 1945), who did extensive research on Quantum Mechanics.

Frederick Soddy (1921, chemistry) did extensive research on radioactivity that proved that transmutation was occurring in radioactive elements. Isaac Singer (literature, 1978) wrote “Satan in Goray,” “Family Moskat” and “The Manor,” and a few dozens more.

John Steinbeck (literature, 1962) is better known for his novels “Of Mice and Men,” ”Grapes of Wrath,” which also won the Pulitzer Prize, and several novels that were made into movies, among them “Cannery Row” and “The Pearl.”

Henryk Sienkiewicz (literature, 1905) is one of the outstanding writers in the second half of the 19th century. Among his novels are “Quo Vadis,” set during the reign of Emperor Nero, which was made into a movie, and “Teutonic Knights.”

Cepca monthly. Mandy Baria, president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association, informed me that the August tournament of the club will be on Sunday Aug. 27 at the Bibo Chess Club at 1 p.m. This will also be a thematic tournament.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A letter on the Chess in School program

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

In an announcement last month, President Arroyo approved, in principle, the implementation of Chess in Schools as proposed by National Chess Federation President Prospero Pichay. I had an e-mail feedback from the US, which I am quoting here:

Dear Mr. Pestano:

I happened across your article about school chess in the Philippines. How wonderful that chess may become a standard subject in the school curriculum! Given your support of chess for young people, I thought you might be interested to learn about the unique program we created some years ago to help schools introduce chess to their students—the Think Like A King School Chess Software System. Think Like A King has been named the Official Scholastic Software of the United States Chess Federation, and our unique system is used by more than 1,300 schools across the United States and in a number of other countries.

When we began working with our own children’s club in the Chicago area in the mid ’90s, we looked for tools already on the market that could help run the club. While we found a number of software products that taught chess by allowing the user to play against the computer, we did not find anything suitable for a school setting – so we created some simple tools ourselves – focusing on using chess to help kids learn how to think. One tool (Chess Club Manager) helped manage the club (by keeping a club roster with student demographics; tracking student game performance and creating a club ladder; printing award certificates, etc.) We also developed a basic interactive tutorial, First Lessons in Chess, to teach kids the fundamentals of the game and reinforce the once-a-week lessons that we provided when the club met.

The tools were so successful in our own club – and we realized how difficult it could be to find a chess expert to come into the schools to teach kids – that we made the decision to market our program to other schools. We also sought help from a chess teacher who had tremendous success in the New York City Public Schools, working with at-risk students in a high poverty area. That individual, David MacEnulty, became the author of our six Chess Workouts interactive tutorials (along with GM Miron Sher in some of the more advanced volumes) – and his work inspired a recent made-for-TV movie called the Knights of the South Bronx.

Below is some additional information about Think Like A King. I hope you will visit our Web site at – and will contact us if you believe our software system would be useful in the expansion of school chess in the Philippines. We look forward to hearing from you.


Leslie B. Lipschhultz

I hope that President Arroyo, Representative Pichay and the top officials of the Dep. Of Education will read this article and take action so the Chess in Schools program can start by next the school year.

Opascor-Philexport. The well-oiled chess machinery of the Oriental Port and Allied Services Corporation (Opascor) rolled over the newly formed chess team of Philexport in their recently concluded dual meet last Aug. 5 at the Gaisano Bowlingplex in Banilad, by an aggregate team score of 21.5 to 14.5 .

Opascor president Tom Riveral announced during the awarding ceremonies that he will sponsor similar tournaments every three months in order to maintain the sharpness of the players and chess aficionados.

Executive director Fred Escalona promised that the Philexport Chess Team will give a better account of themselves in future tournaments. A prize pot of P42,000 was also put up by Opascor for the just-concluded dual meet.

Friday, August 4, 2006

The exquisite torture in playing chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Xylothism is a disease and psychological disorder derived from the Greek words “xylon” for wood and “othism” for pushing. A xylothist is a derogatory description of a chess player gone wrong.

Too much of anything is never good for anybody. Addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling are serious social problems that destroyed the lives of a great number of people, as is the addiction to chess. Addiction varies in different stages with some, suffering more than others.

Bobby Fischer was so enamored by the game at the age of six that he never ‘grew up’. He never developed the social skills necessary to cope with society in general and lived in a world of his own.

SANITARIUM. Former World Champion Wilhem Steinitz ended up in a sanitarium, while Paul Morphy, who is considered as one of the greatest players of all time, stopped playing at an early age as the game was ‘eating’ his mental and emotional faculties. American Champion Harry Nelson Pillsbury was a broken man who tried to throw himself from the fourth story window of a Philadelphia hospital where he was being treated.

I have observed, at first hand, families destroyed by the game and great fortune lost because of it.

Here are some quotations from the book by Andy Soltis, “Chess to enjoy.”

The American Chess Bulletin described the game’s vicious nature aptly: “Chess is erroneously described as a gentle pastime.

It combines the Spanish Inquisition with a puritan witch-baiting, preserving the most exquisite tortures of each. Pulling out an enemy’s toenail with red-hot pincers is childlike in comparison with winning a pawn from him on the 10th move and forcing him, for want of that pawn, to resign on the 87th.”

This malady was accurately diagnosed by H.G. Wells and, though perhaps comical, it is true: “The passion for playing chess is one of the most unaccountable in the world. It slaps the theory of natural selection in the face. It is the most absorbing of occupations, the least satisfying of desires, an aimless excrescence on life. It annihilates a man. You have, let us say, a promising politician, a rising artist, that you wish to destroy. Daggers or bombs are archaic, clumsy and unreliable — but teach him, inoculate him with chess!”

Listen to a 17th century minister recounts the evils of the game “,It is a great time waster. How many precious hours have I profusely spent in this game! O, chess, I will be avenged for the loss of my time! It hath not done with me when I have done with it. It has followed me into my study, into my pulpit. When I have been praying or preaching I have (in my thoughts) been playing chess!”

With the advent of the Internet, chess addiction has increased by leaps and bounds. There are dozens of websites where you can play 24 hours a day against opponents all over the world.

I must confess that I am, to a certain degree, addicted to internet chess having played more than 15,000 games in about four years. Lately, though, my time has been devoted to online poker—Hold ‘em, Omaha and the Seven-Card Stud. By the way, Hold ‘em poker is a rage in the Philippines and is now played in several spots in Cebu.

TANJAY WINNERS. As part of the fiesta celebration of Tanjay, Negros Oriental, an open chess tournament was sponsored by US-based National Master Zaldy Ybañez, a nuclear engineer and former varsity player of Cebu Institute Technology and the only player who defeated GM Tigran Petrosian in a simultaneous exhibition in Cebu, back in the late 70s.

It was also organized by Engr. Bobby Tabaloc of the King and Pawns Chess Club of Tanjay City in coordination with Tanjay Mayor Balthazar Salma.

The winners are (champion) Eden Diano, (second) Pipo Moreno, (third) Hamed Nouri, (fourth) Richard Natividad, (fifth) Voltaire Sevillano and (sixth) Anthony Makiniano.

The Cebuanos, who went to Tanjay, were sponsored by former Cebu Executives and Proffessionals Association president Jun Olis, who is from Tanjay.

The exquisite torture in playing chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Xylothism is a disease and psychological disorder derived from the Greek words “xylon” for wood and “othism” for pushing. A xylothist is a derogatory description of a chess player gone wrong.

Too much of anything is never good for anybody. Addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling are serious social problems that destroyed the lives of a great number of people, as is the addiction to chess. Addiction varies in different stages with some, suffering more than others.

Bobby Fischer was so enamored by the game at the age of six that he never ‘grew up’. He never developed the social skills necessary to cope with society in general and lived in a world of his own.

SANITARIUM. Former World Champion Wilhem Steinitz ended up in a sanitarium, while Paul Morphy, who is considered as one of the greatest players of all time, stopped playing at an early age as the game was ‘eating’ his mental and emotional faculties. American Champion Harry Nelson Pillsbury was a broken man who tried to throw himself from the fourth story window of a Philadelphia hospital where he was being treated.

I have observed, at first hand, families destroyed by the game and great fortune lost because of it.

Here are some quotations from the book by Andy Soltis, “Chess to enjoy.”

The American Chess Bulletin described the game’s vicious nature aptly: “Chess is erroneously described as a gentle pastime.

It combines the Spanish Inquisition with a puritan witch-baiting, preserving the most exquisite tortures of each. Pulling out an enemy’s toenail with red-hot pincers is childlike in comparison with winning a pawn from him on the 10th move and forcing him, for want of that pawn, to resign on the 87th.”

This malady was accurately diagnosed by H.G. Wells and, though perhaps comical, it is true: “The passion for playing chess is one of the most unaccountable in the world. It slaps the theory of natural selection in the face. It is the most absorbing of occupations, the least satisfying of desires, an aimless excrescence on life. It annihilates a man. You have, let us say, a promising politician, a rising artist, that you wish to destroy. Daggers or bombs are archaic, clumsy and unreliable — but teach him, inoculate him with chess!”

Listen to a 17th century minister recounts the evils of the game “,It is a great time waster. How many precious hours have I profusely spent in this game! O, chess, I will be avenged for the loss of my time! It hath not done with me when I have done with it. It has followed me into my study, into my pulpit. When I have been praying or preaching I have (in my thoughts) been playing chess!”

With the advent of the Internet, chess addiction has increased by leaps and bounds. There are dozens of websites where you can play 24 hours a day against opponents all over the world.

I must confess that I am, to a certain degree, addicted to internet chess having played more than 15,000 games in about four years. Lately, though, my time has been devoted to online poker—Hold ‘em, Omaha and the Seven-Card Stud. By the way, Hold ‘em poker is a rage in the Philippines and is now played in several spots in Cebu.

TANJAY WINNERS. As part of the fiesta celebration of Tanjay, Negros Oriental, an open chess tournament was sponsored by US-based National Master Zaldy Ybañez, a nuclear engineer and former varsity player of Cebu Institute Technology and the only player who defeated GM Tigran Petrosian in a simultaneous exhibition in Cebu, back in the late 70s.

It was also organized by Engr. Bobby Tabaloc of the King and Pawns Chess Club of Tanjay City in coordination with Tanjay Mayor Balthazar Salma.

The winners are (champion) Eden Diano, (second) Pipo Moreno, (third) Hamed Nouri, (fourth) Richard Natividad, (fifth) Voltaire Sevillano and (sixth) Anthony Makiniano.

The Cebuanos, who went to Tanjay, were sponsored by former Cebu Executives and Proffessionals Association president Jun Olis, who is from Tanjay.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The new Kasparov

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Every chess player nowadays is wondering who Garry Kasparov’s heir apparent will be.

Veselin Topalov is the choice of many. He is the current No. 1, way ahead of his nemesis Vishy Anand. Another up and coming chess prodigy is Levon Aronian who, at only 230-years-old, is now No. 3 in the latest Fide ratings.

Considered by many as the world’s greatest chess player, with apologies to Bobby Fischer and his fans, Gary Kasparov holds an astounding record. His highest rating was 2851 in the July 1999 Fide list, the highest so far in the history of chess. He was ranked first in the world 21 times, which in itself is a world record, from 1985 to 2006, and was the last undisputed champion from 1985 to 1993. He also won the Chess Oscar 7 times.

Veselin Topalov, 31, has a current Fide rating of 2813, making him second to Kasparov. And he is continuously improving his game. He is the current World Champion. He won in San Luis, Argentina, in 2005 over a tough field that included Anand, Polgar, Svidler, Adams, Kasimdzhanov, Mozorevich and Leko, all belonging to the world top 10 at that time. His performance rating in that tournament was an incredible 2890.

He also won the M-Tel Masters in 2005 and 2006 and is the 2005 Chess Oscar winner. He will be playing a unification match against Vladimir Kramnik in September this year for $1,000,000. He is from Bulgaria but now lives in Spain.

Levon Aronian of Armenia is only 23-years-old, but his Fide rating is already at 2761. In December 2005 he beat Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine in the final round to win the World Cup in Khaty Mansiysk, Russia. In March 2006 he won Linares, half a point ahead of Topalov and Teimour Radjabov.

Anand is currently rated 2nd to Topalov, with a rating of 2779, and is only one of four players in history to break the 2800 barrier. He has been among the top three players since 1994 in classical time control and the No. 1 rapid player over much of that period.

So, who do you think is Kasparov’s successor? Is it the brilliant Bulgarian, Topalov, or the classical Indian genius, Vishy Anand? Or is it the young prodigy Aronian?

My answer is neither of these players. Good as they are they will never attain the heights reached by Kasparov. So, who will replace him? My answer is Sergey Karjakin.

Sergey of Ukraine became a grandmaster at an incredible age of 12, the youngest ever in the history of the game. He is now 16 yrs old and rated 26th in the world with an Elo rating of 2679.

His latest accomplishment was the 10th Petr Izmailov Memorial in Russia where he won the category-18 tournament 1.5 points ahead of the field that included Sergei Rublevsky, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Morozevich, Rustam Kasimdzhanov and Viorel Bologan. His performance rating was 2834.

Sergey’s strongest opponent in the coming years is another “boy wonder”, Magnus Carlsen. His accomplishments are also extraordinary and he is only 15 yrs old. He earned an Elo rating of 2675 in the latest Fide list, making him the World’s Junior No. 4 and 31st in the world. He won the C group of the Corus Chess tourney in 2004 at the age of 13 and the B group a year later.

My guess is that Sergey will become world champion before his 20th birthday.

Cepca July champion This month’s winner is Miguel Banebane. He scored an undefeated 4.5 points in a tournament made unique by a rule requiring the white player to play a fixed set of moves from rounds 1-5. Called a” thematic tournament” it is currently popular in the world and in most chess clubs.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cepca updates; Wojtkiewicz

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The July edition monthly handicapping tournament of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association will be on Sunday at the Bibo Chess Club along Jakosalem St. starting at 1 p.m. Format is five rounds Swiss, time control will depend on the players’ skills.

This tournament is unique in the sense that this will be a thematic tournament. For the first round, players with the white pieces must play c4, second round Nf3, third round Nc3, fourth round g3 and fifth and final round f4.

The monthly winners so far who have qualified for the Grand Finals in December are Dante Arguelles for January, Jun Olis February, Maggie Dionson March, Percival Fiel April, Jongjong Melendez May and Mike banebane June. NM Bombi Aznar, honorary member and club adviser, is automatically seeded for the month of December.

SPECIAL PRIZES. During one of the club’s Board of Trustees meetings earlier this year, it was decided that special prizes will be given to the top 10 performers, to be used as basis his monthly scores. The top 10 are Dante Arguelles 200 points, Mandy Baria 195, Felix Balbona 190, Maggie Dionson 190, Jonard Labadan 175, Mike Banebane 175, Rene Casia 160, Percival Fiel 130, Joe atillo 115 and Norway Lara 110.

It was decided in last Tuesday‘s meeting that the next General Assembly will be on Nov. 19 at the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center at 1 p.m. to elect the new set of officers and Board of Trustees for 2007.

Also scheduled next month is the “Generation Tournament” wherein senior club members will play against selected Kiddie players. NM Bombi Aznar will test the mettle of Shell Kiddies qualifier 12-year-old Yves Fiel, Cy Balbanera, 14, against Mike Banebane, 85-year-old Gerry Tomakin against 12-year-old Ralph Pedroza, Loy Minoza, 80, versus Marq Balbona, 12, and Felix Salve vs. Jessa Balbona, 13.

Club president Mandy Baria has also scheduled a chess clinic for kids to be handled by National Master Ben Macapaz at the Stella Maris Center later this year. Some 30 kids will be chosen for the two- day training period.

WOJTKIEWICZ. We are saddened to know that GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz recently passed away due to liver illness. It will be recalled that he was a guest of Cepca in the late ’90s to play simultaneous games against club members. I clearly remember that he was your regular kind of a guy who joined us in our favorite pastime of karaoke and ice-cold beer. He even offered to pay the bills as he was one of the major winners in the National Open-Far East Bank Tournament in Manila that year.

Born in Latvia, he was of Polish descent, and later took residence in the USA. He was a child prodigy who became a master at 15. His career was interrupted when he was imprisoned for two years for not joining the Soviet Army.

Alex was one the most active players of this generation winning several tournaments while training and teaching on the side.

He won several times the annual $10,000 first prize Grand Prix Chess tournaments in the United States. He won or tied for first place in the last five tournaments he played in.

I distinctly remember about two weeks ago when Jun Olis, a member of the Internet Chess Club, talked to me that Enrico “Econg” Sevillano, a full-blooded Cebuano now based in the States, lost his final game against Wojtkiewicz, which he watched live on the Internet. Had Econg won, he would have won second place in the US Open.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Chess-playing heads of states

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

The last time Bobby Fischer played in public was in the Philippines, when he played a televised exhibition match in 1974 against the late President Ferdinand Marcos. The game lasted for 15 minutes and ended in a draw.

Fischer, who was reportedly paid a $20,000 appearance fee, later said Marcos had a good understanding of the game.

It seems we have a lot of chess playing presidents, as Corazon Aquino also plays the game and was thrilled when she met Garry Kasparov during the Manila Olympiad in 1992. Everybody, of course, knows Fidel Ramos is a good chess player and is also a benefactor of the game.

The late National Master Glicerio “Asing” Badilles once confided to me that he was a favorite, together with IM Rodolfo Cardoso, of the late President Carlos Garcia, who was probably the strongest head of state to ever play the game.

RECORD FIELD. Another dedicated chess player among national leaders is Fidel Castro, whose passion for the game has made Cuba a chess power.

Cuba hosted the largest simultaneous exhibition in history, when 6,840 players including Castro played 380 masters in Havana in Nov. 19, 1966, the birthday of the late world champion Raoul Capablanca.

Muammar Gaddafi, another chess playing head of state, has been the leader of Libya since 1969. He provided the prize money in the World Championship in 2004, which became controversial when qualifiers from Israel were not given visas to Libya. This led to a boycott by several Jews from other countries and that is the biggest factor why Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov almost failed to get re-elected in last month’s Fide elections.

Yasser Arafat was chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1969 until his death in Nov. 11, 2004. He was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 together with Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin for the successful negotiations of the Oslo Accords. There is a story that he respected former Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin, because he was as a chess player like himself.

Begin is also a Nobel Peace prize awardee and became prime minister of Israel in 1977. Another story says that when British troops arrived at his house to arrest him in 1944, when Israel was still fighting for independence, Begin was playing chess with his wife and his last words to his wife was “I resign,” before being dragged away. He played several matches with National Security adviser Zbigniew Brezezinski in Camp David and most probably also against president Jimmy Carter.

Vytautas Landsbergis was the first president of the state of Lithuania after the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990. He is reportedly a strong chess player.

Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia from 1991-1999. An all-around athlete, Yeltsin is not only good in chess but also in boxing, gymnastics, volleyball, track and field and wrestling

There seems to be a connection between being president of the United States and knowing how to play chess. American presidents who play chess are Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt , Richard Nixon, James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses Grant, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Rutherford Hayes, Warren Harding, John Quincy Adams and Jimmy Carter. I will devote several articles in the future about these presidents and anecdotes about their game.

YOUNG ACE. Yves Fiel has certainly improved by leaps and bounds .Only 12 years old, he won the June edition tournament of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association .Last month‘s winner was Atty. Jongjong Melendez.