Friday, April 28, 2006

Chess-playing musicians

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

They say that chess players are music lovers and vice versa. The chess immortal Paul Morphy was able to memorize any piece of music after hearing it a single time. Mark Taimanov, a strong grandmaster who qualified for the candidates matches in the 1970s, was a concert pianist and included in the list of the top 100 pianists in the 20th century.

He retired from chess after being demolished, 6-0, by a guy named Bobby Fischer in their candidates match-up. Bobby himself is a great lover of classical music.

According to the prolific chess writer Bill Wall, musicians who play chess are Jean Absil (composer), Jon Anderson (of the rock band Yes), Thomas Beecham (English conductor), Ludwig Beethoven, Art Blakey (jazz musician), Sir Arthur Bliss (Master of the Queen’s Music), Alex Borodin (Russian composer), David Bowie, Clifford Brown (jazz musician), John Cage, Enrico Caruso, Pablo Casals (cellist), Ray Charles, Chopin, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Antonin Dvorak, Mischa Ehlman (violinist), Ferenc Erkel, Dizzy Gillespie,

Gerry Goffin (songwriter), Leo Kahn (violinist), Gene Krupa (drummer), John Lennon, John Lill (pianist), Johnny Marks (wrote Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), Felix Mendelssohn, Modest Mussorgsky, Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, and Nash), Willie Nelson, Yoko Ono, Sergei Prokofiev (composer), Helen Reddy, Ruggiero Ricci, Tim Rice,

Sviatoslav Richter, N. Rimsky-Korsakov, Monz Rosenthal (pianist), Arthur Rubinstein (pianist), Robert Schumann, Dmitri Shostakovich (composer), Ringo Starr, Isaac Stern, Richard Strauss, Bjorn Ulvaeus (Abba), Giuseppe Verdi (composer), Heitor Villa-Lobos, Paul Whiteman (jazz musician), Rudolf Wilmers (pianist, and Tadeusz Wronski (composer).

Exceptionally strong players are Adolf Brodsky (1851-1929), a violinist who was the first person to play the Tchaikovsky concerto declared unplayable by Leopold Auer to whom the original dedication was made, Sting (Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner), principal singer of The Police before he went solo, whose original ambition in life was to be a grandmaster and Francois Andre Philidor (1726-1795), a talented composer who was considered the unofficial chess champion during his time.

Other strong chess players are Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999), a conductor who had one of the longest careers as a violinist in the 20th century and even before his 20th birthday was already a legend; David Oistrakh (1908-1974) was a violinist of Russian Jewish background who won several competitions, notably the Queen Elizabeth competition in Brussels and the Wieniawski competition in Warsaw; Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976-Russian cellist) is considered by the great violin pedagogue Ivan Galamian as the greatest strings player of all time.

His wife, Jacqueline, was also a strong chess player and a member of the US Olympiad team in 1963. In that year the Piatigorskys organized a chess tournament in Los Angeles won by Paul Keres and Tigran Petrosian and in 1966 another tournament won by Boris Spassky in Santa Monica.

TIMEX SPONSORSHIP. Mandy Baria, Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) president and organizer of the match-up against the Mez 1 & 2 selection, recently informed me that Timex Philippines Inc. will donate three watches for the competition. This is certainly good news and will add color to the match-up, which will be held on May 6 at Fairchild Semi-Conductor Philippines Inc. in Lapu-Lapu City.

Format will be 20 boards, with each player playing two games of black and white pieces. Time controls have not been agreed upon but a good figure is 45 minutes with 10 seconds increment per player play to finish.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Topalov vs. Kramnik; Cepca vs. Mepza

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has just announced that the reunification match between Fide champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and Classical champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia will take place in the chess city of Elista, Kalmykia on Sept. 21-Oct. 13 this year.

Prize fund is $ 1,000,000 to be equally divided between the two players regardless of the outcome of the match.

The competition will be held over 12 games with classical time controls (120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game with increment of 30 seconds from move 61). In case of a tie after 12 games there will be four tiebreak rapid games and if still tied, two blitz games.

An important concession by Kramnik is that the winner will play in the next Fide World Championship in Mexico City comprising eight players and the loser even if Fide champion Topalov will have to start from scratch and play in the next World Cup, which is a knockout tournament.

If this championship pushes through it will unify the chess world as we have not had an undisputed champion in over 15 years. Furthermore, the sponsorship by Mexico City, which has already been signed, of the next championship, is an assurance there will be no hitches this time.

This development is a big boost to the retention of Ilyumzhinov as Fide president as he faces a formidable opponent in Dutch tycoon Bessel Kok come election time in Turin, Italy during the Chess Olympiad there in June.

I am recommending to NCFP president Prospero Pichay to vote for the reelection of Ilyumzhinov as president of Fide as Kirsan has a special heart for the Philippines.

CEPCA VS. MEZ 1 & 2. Mandy Baria, the energetic president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association, is busy putting on the finishing touches of Cepca’s goodwill match against selected players of Mactan Economic Zone 1 & 2 on May 6 comprising 20 boards at the Fairchild Semi-conductor (Philippines) Inc. in Lapu-Lapu City,
I am sure this will be a hard-fought match as the Zones have several good players especially Timex, whom Cepca played sometime ago.

The Rose Pharmacy & Pyro Works Open Chess Tournament will be held in SM City (in front of Wellcom) on Saturday and Sunday starting at 1 p.m.

Prizes are P3,000, P2,000, P1,000, P600, P400 for first to fifth placers, respectively and P200 each from sixth to 10th.
Registration fee is P100. Format is seven rounds Swiss system. Time control is 25 minutes each player with 10 seconds increment.

Cebu really needs corporate and government sponsors as it is only Rose Pharmacy, Cepca and a few individuals who are keeping the game alive and kicking here. Perhaps, sports czar Michel Lhuiller and Jack Jakosalem can lend a helping hand.

April champion Percival Fiel, father of the gifted child chess player Yves Christian, defeated veteran Mike Banibane in the final round of the Cepca blitz handicapping tournament last Sunday to emerge April champion of the club and thus qualify for the grand finals in December. Banibane was second, while Cepca president Mandy Baria snared third place with a win over Junard Labadan. Fourth placer was new member Benjie Sanchez and at fifth was another veteran, Dante Arguelles.

Previous qualifiers for the Grand finals are Dante Arguelles (January), Jun Olis (February) and Maggi Dionson (March).

I would also like to give thanks to “El Presidente” Mon Fernandez for making available the facilities of Tisoy Sports Restobar along A.S. Fortuna St. in Mandaue City as the venue of this tournament.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Topalov leads Anand by a point

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE World Chess Federation has just released its top players as of April 2006 and the No. 1 spot belongs to World Champion Veselin Topalov with an Elo rating of 2,804, a mere one-point lead over Vishy Anand. The duo is almost 50 points ahead of current third placer Levon Aronian who won the “Ciudad de Linares” mega-tournament last month.

Judit Polgar is still the Women‘s no.1 although she has gone down to no.14 in the overall list after a bad showing in the World Championship in San Luis, Argentina where she finished last in a field of 8.The current Women’s Champion is Xu Yuhua of China.

For the first time in almost 25 years a Filipino is rated in the top 100. Mark Paragua is on the list at no. 99 with a rating of 2618. I can’t recall exactly when Eugene Torre placed among the top 10 in the world but it was in the late 70s or early 80s. Mark is only 22 years old and soon he will be up there with the elite.

TOP 10. 1. Topalov, Veselin (30) Bulgaria 2,804, 2. Anand, Viswanathan (36) India 2,803, 3. Aronian, Levon (23) Armenia 2,756, 4. Svidler, Peter (29) Russia 2,743, 5. Leko, Peter (26) Hungary 2,738, 6. Ponomariov, Ruslan (22) Ukraine 2,738, 7. Morozevich, Alexander (28) Russia 2,730, 8. Kramnik, Vladimir (30) Russia 2,729, 9. Gelfand, Boris (38) Israel 2,727, 10. Ivanchuk, Vassily (36) Ukraine 2,723.

TOP 10 WOMEN. 1. Polgar, Judit (30) Hungary 2,711, 2. Koneru, Humpy (18) India 2,548, 3. Kosteniuk, Alexandra (22) Russia 2,540, 4. Cramling, Pia (43) Sweden 2,520, 5. Xu, Yuhua (29) China 2,517, 6. Chiburdanidze, Maia (45) Georgia 2,504, 7. Stefanova, Antoaneta (26) Bulgaria 2,502, 8. Kosintseva, Tatiana (19) Russia 2,489, 9. Hoang Thanh Trang (25) Hungary 2,487, 10. Zhu, Chen (29) China 2,483.

TOP 10 COUNTRIES. 1. Russia - 1,588 titled players (ELO Ave. - 2,716), 2. Ukraine - 326 titled players, (2,663 ELO Ave.), 3. USA – 455 titled players (2,625), 4. France - 241 titled players (2,623), 5. America – 586 titled players (2,616), 6. Hungary – 338 titled players (2,616), 7. China - 81 titled players (2,611), 8. Israel – 132 titled players (2,609), 9. Germany - 954 titled players (2,607), 10. Netherlands 210 titled players (2,605).

This list gives you an idea on the playing strength of the countries concerned, for example, the top 10 players of Russia have an average Elo of 2716 and the country has 1588 titled players. The Philippines is ranked no.40 with an average Elo of 2489 and 42 titled players.

TOP 10 PHILIPPINES. 1. Paragua, Mark (22) 2,618, 2. Torre, Eugenio (54) 2,543, 3. Antonio, Rogelio, Jr. (43) 2,539, 4. Barcenilla, Rogelio 2,503, 5. Datu, Idelfonso (34) 2,457, 6. Mariano, Nelson (31) 2,454, 7. Dimakiling, Oliver 2,452, 8. Villamayor, Buenaventura 2,448, 9. Sanchez, Joseph (35) 2,446, 10. Gonzales, Jayson 2,434.

LOLOY MEMORIAL. The Marcelo “Loloy” Ruelan Memorial tournament is held every year in honor of the late Cebu Master who never faltered in his devotion to chess during his lifetime. This year`s edition will be held in Tisoy`s Sports Restobar along A.S. Fortuna St. in Mandaue tomorrow and Sunday. Among the sponsors are the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) and Cepca`s James Bond Ely Berciles.

Format is 7-round Swiss Active. It looks like chess has a new home as Cepca‘s monthly tournament will also be held here on April 16.

CHESS CLOCK. Chessplayer Jun Sanchez came to visit me and introduced his son Boni, a new graduate of computer engineering from University of Cebu, who has a unique invention – a digital chess clock. As far as I know this is the first and only product locally available in the market. I was shown a sample and it has all the features of the imported ones, only cheaper.

In case you would like to order one, call Jun at T-261-0317.The clock is made using locally available materials, has a warranty and can easily be repaired by the inventor.

I’m calling on the officers of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines to take a good, hard look at this product.