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.