Friday, June 9, 2006

RP women eclipse men team in Turin

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I NEVER expected our Women’s team to perform creditably in the just-concluded Turin Chess Olympiad, after all, the ladies were seeded 60th in a field of 150 teams.

Despite losing in the 13th and final round to Slovenia, 0.5-2.5, our Women’s team placed a respectable 26th with 22 points, much better than our Men’s that could only manage a poor 44th place.

Sherily Cua was the best performer with 6.5 points, while Beverly Mendoza and Catherine Perena scored 6 points each. Board one player Sheerie Joy Lomibao limped home with only 3.5.

The ladies lost to Germany, 0.5-2.5, in the first round; whitewashed Ireland, 3-0, in the second; defeated the Swiss, 2-1; lost to the Kazakhs, 0.5 -2,5; clobbered Italy B, 2.5-0.5; swept the Finns, 2.5-0.5; tied with the Iranians, 1.5-1.5; again tied with Turkey, whitewashed Albania, drew with Lithuania, defeated Estonia, 2.5-0.5, and lost to Slovenia in the final round. Nice going, ladies!

There is no one to blame for the Men’s poor showing except to say that the competition is getting better and we are at a standstill. I believe that putting Mark Paragua on board one was a mistake as should have been Eugene Torre.

The Olympiad is an entirely different tournament and experience and nerves count a lot which Eugene has a lot of, this being his 19th Olympiad. Mark could have scored better on board two. We could have scored maybe an additional two points, putting us where we belong – in the 20th-30th position.

However, our performance is nothing compared to what happened to Russia and India. Russia, seeded first, finished in a tie at 6-10th place while India, seeded second, could manage only 30-35th in the final standings. Why this happened to India, I don’t know. It’s like the Philippines losing to Singapore in basketball – it’s that bad.

Our best scorer was Joey Antonio on board three with seven points, while Oliver Dimakiling had six on board five. Eugene and Mark had 4.5 points each and Darwin Laylo managed a respectable 3.5 points. Twelve-year-old, Wesley So, the future of Philippine chess, had a plus score of two wins, two draws and one loss – a good performance from one so young.

Armenia was the surprise winner in the Men’s Division with 36 points, with China taking the silver and the Americans the bronze medal. At the start they were seeded third, 12th and seventh, respectively –making this Olympiad the most unpredictable of all.

There was an important side event in the Olympiad – the 14th World Computer Chess Championship. The Israeli program Junior – authors Amir Ban and Shay Bushinsky scored 9/11 to win the championship over Shredder – author Stefan Meyer Kahlen – 8.5/11, and Raylich author Vas Rajlich – who also had the same score.

LUCENA OPEN. One hundred eighteen players including two International Masters, a Fide Master, seven National Masters and 20 Candidate Masters participated in the Pasayahan Chess Festival 2006 recently in Lucena City. Format was Active seven rounds Swiss. It was sponsored by Rep. Raffy Nantes and organized by the Quezon-Lucena Chess Association Inc.

The winners and their prizes are 1. Rodolfo Panopio (P8,000) 2. NM Alex Milagrosa (P6,000) 3.Ali Branzuela (P4,000) 4. IM Richard Bitoon (P2,000) 5. NM Ronald Perez (P1,000).

The Ozamiz City National Chess Open Tournament will be held on July 1-3 at the Ramiro Gymnasium along Pingol St. It is expected to attract the country’s top players, including the Olympiad team that is now playing in San Marino.

The champion will get P30,000; first runner-up, 15,000; second runner-up, P5,000; 4th-5th, P2,000 each and 5th-10th, P1,000. There will also be prizes for top Juniors, Boys, Women and Seniors players.

Registration is P300 and P150 for kiddies.

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