Friday, March 24, 2006

A busy week and good times ahead

By Frank "Boy” Pestaño

STARTING last Saturday when we went to Balamban to play a goodwill match with Tsuneishi-Cipdi (Cebu Industrial Park Development Inc.) employees, members of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) had their hands full playing the game they love.

The following day, Sunday, we had our monthly tournament at Stella Maris and last Tuesday we started our weekly playing day at Handuraw in Mabolo. There was also a Kiddies side event at Stella Maris.

On the international scene, there is the ongoing Fide Women World Championship and the unique Melody Amber, which is considered a major tournament, as to be included, is like an invitation to the White House.

On the national scene, there was a changing of the guards at the National Chess Federation of the Philippines when Rep. Prospero Pichay was elected president replacing super sportsman Go Teng Kok, who remains one of the members of the board of trustees.

This is certainly good news as Pichay is a known go-getter and close to the powers that be and in fact will be sworn by no less than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“We want to bring back the supremacy of Filipinos in the field of chess as we did before,” said Pichay.

The other members of the board are lawyers Samuel Estimo, Edmundo Legaspi, Romero Seratubias and former Benguet governor Raul Molintas, Tagaytay Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino Jr., RP six-time executive champion Jenny Mayor, Willie Abalos, Casto “Toti” Abundo Jr., Ed Madrid, Red Dumuk and Jess Torre. Mat Defensor was re-elected chairman.

Tsuneishi Cepca member Emmanuele Matuco, the general manager of Cipdi, and Alaric Cejudo of Tsuneishi, were our gracious hosts in Balamban and although they lost the match rather badly, they won a lot of goodwill with their fine hospitality.

After the match, we were given a tour of Tsuneishi Heavy Industries and I was awed with the statistics that Matuco gave us.

Tsuneishi is the biggest shipbuilding company in Southeast Asia and the third biggest container-ship manufacturing facility in the world after Japan and South Korea. It has over 6,000 employees and the Filipinos, mostly Cebuanos, are second to none in their efficiency and working habits.

In fact, the Japanese partners of this Aboitiz-owned company are so impressed with their workers that they will double the capacity of the yard in the next two years.

Dante Arguelles won the March edition tournament of Cepca with a fine win over Fred Sandalo in the last round to score a perfect five points. Shell Kiddies qualifier Yves Christian Fiel, as expected, topped the Kiddies side event sponsored by the club.

In the World Women Championship held in Ekaterinburg, Russia Alisa Galliamova defeated Viktorija Cmilyte of Lithuania in the semifinal round to arrange a final showdown with China’s Xu Yuhua, who won against Svetlana Matveeva in the other semifinal match. The four-game final will be played today and tomorrow.

Melody Amber is an unusual tournament in that both players play two mini matches, one rapid and the other blindfold. It is held on March 18-30 in the fabulous splendor of Monte Carlo, Monaco by Dutch billionaire J.J. Van Oosterom in honor of his daughter, Melody Amber. This is the 15th edition and the prize fund is about $300,000.

The 12-player field includes Veselin Topalov, Vishy Anand, Levon Aronian and Peter Leko. Most of the players have an Elo rating over 2700.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Tsuneishi vs. Cepca; World Women finals

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association will play a goodwill match with Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu) Inc. in Balamban tomorrow as part of its program to promote chess in Cebu.

All members will assemble at Handuraw Cafe in Mabolo at 9:30 a.m. and leave for Balamban at exactly 10 a.m. courtesy of a bus supplied by Cepca honorary member and adviser Bombi Aznar. We will have lunch at Balamban hosted by Cepca member Mat Matuco. The games will start at 1 p.m.

The match will consist of 20 boards and the time control is active – meaning each player will have 30 minutes each to finish the game. Each player will play two games handling black and white pieces.

The players of Cepca who have expressed interest in participating are Ben Dimaano, Jobannie Tabada, Dante Arguelles, Richard Abangan, Norway Lara, Bong San Pascual, Mike Banibane, Jonard Labadan, Rene Casia, Jun Olis, Boy Tumulak, Felix Balbona, Percival Feil, Jerry Rallos, Jeffrey Solis, Henry Cariat, Hermes Ibon, Jade Garzon, Manny Manzanares, Jun Kidlat, Danny Pestaño, Boy Pestaño, Felijan Selencio and Mandy Baria.

Going with the group are arbiters Marvin Ruelan and Bob Tojong.

After the match, we will be given a short tour of the facilities and enlightened as to how big ships are made.

WORLD WOMEN CHAMPIONSHIP. The world championship is being held by Fide in Ekaterinburg, Russia on March 10-27 and consists of 64 players led by defending champion Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria. The games are being played under the knockout two-games format. Two rounds have already been played.

The first round saw some of the top players losing their matches. Almira Skripchenko, winner of the strongest tournament of all time, went down to virtual unknown Jovanka Houska of England; while Elisabeth Pahtz of Germany, the World Youth champion, lost to Peng Zhaoqin of the Netherlands and Kateryna Lahno of Ukraine, the European champion, was defeated by Karen Zapata of Peru.

Advancing to Round 2 are the top favorites: reigning champion Stefanova over Amina Mezioud of Algeria, Koneru Humpy of India over Tuduetso Sabure of Botswana, Russian champion Alexandra Kosteniuk over Natalia Khoudgarian of Canada, former World champion Maia Chiburdanidze over Ingris Rivera of Colombia and China’s Xu Yuhua over Xuan Thanh Khiet Hoang of Vietnam.

Round 2 saw the elimination of the highest-ranked player in the tournament, GM Koneru Humpy, by France’s Marie Sebag. GM Pia Cramling of Sweden also lost to rising star Peng Zhaoqin of the Netherlands.

The most surprising result was the loss by defending champion Stefanova to Iweta Radziewicz of Poland. She lost both the rapid games after both won a game each under the standard control.

Former world-champion Maia Chiburdnidze and glamour girl Alexandra Kosteniuk won their matches as well as China’s Xu Yuhua and 12-year-old Hou Yifan, who scored 3 ½ out of four.

LINARES. The most prestigious tournament and unofficial world championship of the year was won by Armenia’s Levon Aronian with a win over the front-running Peter Leko of Hungary in the last round. It was the second straight loss by the disappointed Leko, having lost to Fide World champion Veselin Topalov in the previous round after leading since Round 1.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Clean elections: The two Koks

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

JUST like the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca), which had clean, credible and orderly elections, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines and the World Chess Federation (Fide) will try to follow suit.

NCFP will hold its elections tomorrow at the Capitol Golf and Country Club. Unlike previous elections, it will try to be “clean and transparent” this time and erase the lutong Macao that characterized past elections especially during the time of the defunct Philippine Chess Federation.

“I have made sure that the elections will be in order and according to the NCFP constitution and by-laws. We will even have an observer from the Philippine Olympic Committee at the elections,” said Go Teng Kok, the outgoing president of NCFP at a press briefing.

He also disclosed a committee will supervise the election. “I don’t like anyone going to court to dispute the elections. That is why I want to make sure everything will be in order,” Go said.

BESSEL KOK. The campaign for the presidency of the Fide has officially started and the protagonists are incumbent president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who has already served 11 years in office, and Dutch tycoon Bessel Kok, who has labeled his race as the “right move.” Anatoly Karpov, who expressed his intention to run for president, has withdrawn from the race.

The presidential ticket of Ilyumzhinov (Russia) is: deputy president, Georgios Makropolous (Greece); vice president, Lewis Ncube (Zambia); general-secretary. Ignatius Leong (Singapore) and treasurer, Nigel Freeman (Bermuda).

Bessel’s ticket is: deputy president, Ali Nihat Yacizi (Turkey); vice president, Julio Ingolotti (Paraguay); general secretary, Panupand Vijjuprabha (Thailand) and treasurer, Geoffrey Borg (Malta).

Fide also announced the candidates for continental presidents for Europe, Asia, Americas and Africa. Candidates for Europe are Boris Kutin (Slovenia) and Javier Ochoa de Echaguen Estballez (Spain); for Asia – Sultan Bin Khalifa Al-Nahayan (United Arab Emirates) and Abd Hamid Mahid (Malaysia); for the Americas – Jorge Vega Fernandez (Costa Rica) and for Africa – Dabilani Buthali (Botswana).

Already 23 federations, including Pakistan, Namibia and Denmark have announced their support to the candidacy of Bessel Kok. As to who the Philippines will support will depend on the new NCFP president and trustees.

The elections will be held in Turin, Italy during the Olympiad this June.

Former Fide president Florencio Campomanes will, of course, support his friend Ilyumzhinov and he is still very influential among member federations. My personal choice is still the incumbent as he has already done so much for the promotion of chess, especially on the top level despite criticisms from various quarters. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as Ilyumzhinov has spent millions of dollars of his personal money to show his love of the game.

LINARES. After the first half at Morelia, Mexico, where Veselin Topalov scored minus two, he is on a rampage in the second half at Linares as he won three straight games in rounds 8 to 10, before settling for a draw against Teimour Radjabov. After 11 rounds with three still to go, Peter Leko is still in the lead followed by Leveon Aronian.

Round 11 standings: 1) Leko of Hungary (2740) 7.0 2) Aronian of Armenia (2752) 6.5 3) Topalov of Bulgaria (2801) 6.0 4) Radjabov of Azerbaijan (2700) 6.5 5) Peter Svidler if Russia (2765) 5.5 6) Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine (2729) 4.5 7) Etienne Bacrot of France (2717) 4.5 8) Francisco Pons Vallejo of Spain (2650) 4.0.

The Ciudad de Linares is considered the unofficial championship of the year and is also known as the Wimbledon of chess.

Friday, March 3, 2006

The unofficial chess world championship

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

The Ciudad de Linares tournament is known as the Wimbledon of chess and is sometimes hailed as the unofficial championship of the year. After the Wijk aan Zee, which was won by both Vishy Anand and world champion Veselin Topalov in a tie, it is the second mega-tournament of the year.

For the first time, this year’s tournament has been divided into two, with the first half being played in Morelia, the capital of the of the state of Michoacan in Mexico from Feb. 18-26. The players will then proceed to Linares, Spain for the second half, which will be played from March 3-11.

SUPRISE. The first half has just been completed and the unlikely leader, though not unexpected, is Peter Leko of Hungary.

He has three wins and four draws after seven rounds — the only player not to lose a game. The surprise of the tournament so far has been the so-so performance of Topalov, who could only tally 2.5 points after only one win, three draws and three losses. This just confirms my observation that among the top 20 players in the World, anything can happen. If Topalov continues with this lackluster performance in the second half, he will go below the 2800 Elo level in the next Fide ratings and Anand, the surprise non-participant in this year’s edition, will be the No.1.

Round 1 — The tournament began in a dramatic fashion with a win by Peter Svidler over Topalov in a Berlin defense. Peter Leko won over Vallejo with black and Aronian won over Teimour Radjabov with white.

Round 2— Both Peters, Svidler and Leko, won again and Ivanchuk defeated Aronian after missing what looked like a winning position in the first round. Topalov’s game against Bacrot was drawn.

Round 3— Topalov, with the black pieces, played a nice game against Aronian and was winning but the tables turned and the game ended in a draw after a marathon 123 moves. The Svidler-Leko and Radjabov-Ivanchuk games were intense fights with sharp, unbalanced openings. Both games were drawn. The Bacrot-Vallejo game was also drawn after an irrational position.

Round 4— Topalov is now at the cellar after losing to previous tail-ender, Radjabov with white, while the two Peters won again with Leko prevailing over Ivanchuk and Svidler over Bacrot. The Vallejo-Aronian game was a draw.

Round 5 — At last Topalov wins with the black pieces against Ivanchuk. Leko is now in solo first place with 4.5 points, after drawing his game against Bacrot, while Svidler, lost to Aronian. The Vallejo-Radjabov game was a fighting draw.

Round 6 — Another unexpected turn of events in this round as Topalov lost to tail-ender Vallejo with the white pieces! Svidler continued his losing streak, this time to Ivanchuk, while Leko drew with Aronian to lead the field by a full point. The young Radjabov got his second win, this time over Bacrot.

Round 7— This final round of the first half of the tournament saw three interesting games reach first time control, but all were drawn — Leko versus Topalov in a Sicilian Najdorf, Svidler versus Radjabov in a Sicilian Rossolimo and Vallejo versus Ivanchuk in a Petroff defense. Aronian beat Bacrot to move to second place behind Leko, the solo leader

The second half continues today in Linares, Spain.

The final standings after the first half of the Ciudad de Linares tournament: 1.) Peter Leko, Hungary (2740) 5.0 2.) Levon Aronian, Armenia (2752) 4.5 3.) Peter Svidler Russia (2765) 4.0 4.) Vassily Ivanchuk, Ukraine (2729) 3.5 5.)Teimour Radjabov, Azerbaijan 3.5 6.) Francisco Pons, Spain (2650) 3.0 7.) Veselin Topalov Bulgaria (2801) 2.5 8.) Etienne Bacrot, France (2717) 2.