Friday, December 28, 2007

Beautiful and sexy chess players

Beautiful and sexy chess players
By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

WHEN Bobby Fischer was in a Japanese jail in 2004 for using a cancelled passport, Boris Spassky wrote to President Bush to free Bobby or place him also in jail and supply them with a chess set. Bobby, in a rare display of humor, requested instead the young Russian model Alexandra Kosteniuk,23, whom they say is as beautiful as the young Elizabeth Taylor.

Alexandra is an International Grandmaster with a Fide rating of 2515, which means that she can compete with our Pinoy grandmasters as an equal.

Kosteniuk’s motto is “beauty and intelligence can go together”.

Carmen Kass is a supermodel and was elected president of the Estonian National Chess League in 2004. She ran a campaign to obtain the rights to organize the 2008 Chess Olympics in Tallinn. However, that right was given to Dresden, Germany instead in 2008.

Kass was awarded by Vogue as “Model of the Year” at the 2000 Vogue Fashion Awards and is well-known for her distinctive runway walk.

Arianne Caoili is a Fil-Aussie mestiza who was born in the Philippines, but now resides in Australia. At one point during 2002, she achieved a Fide rating of over 2300.

She is known as the Anna Kournikova of chess and made headlines during the Turin Olympiad when Danny Gormally and Levon Aronian had a scuffle over her during the “Bermuda nights” party.

Monica Seps, 17, is a beauty to behold and comes from Switzerland. Although not exactly a world-class chess player, she can beat most Cepca members with her Fide rating of 2095.

Jessica Basland comes from France and according to The French Chess Association, her rating is 1100. Remember, we are talking here of beauty, not just ability, so pardon me if I include her here.

Vera Nebolsina, Russia, 16, won WWC U10 1998 with 9.5/11 and made second place in 1999 (with 9.5/11 tied for first place). She learned how to play chess at the age of 4 and won the Russian championship of girls U8 at the age of 7. Her latest Fide rating is 2349 and she is a WGM. Very pretty.

Kinga Harsanyi is a Hungarian Fide Master rated 2118 and only 18. They say that if you are a man, you can never defeat her in chess as she is so beautiful you don’t want to put her down. Extremely photogenic.

Natalija Pogonina, 22, is a Russian Woman Grandmaster currently ranked 22nd among women in the world with a Fide rating of 2462. She looks like Julia Roberts and they say she is even more beautiful in person.

Maria Manakova, 33, is a Russian Woman Grandmaster whose Fide rating is 2331.She is well known for being the only woman chess grandmaster ever to pose nude. She posed nude for the Russian men’s magazine Speed, after her comeback from Serbia to Russia in 2004.

During the Turin Olympiad in 2006, the winners of the most photogenic women chessplayers were Sanja Didijer from Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosteniuk, Mariam Mansur of UAE, Almira Skripchenko of France, Zehra Topel of Turkey,Regina Pokorna of Slovakia, Valquira Rocha of Angola.

Other winners were Sophie Millet of France, Ingrid Aliaga of Peru, Anna Sharevich of Belarus,Caolli,Eva Repkova of Slovakia, Shirin Navabi of Iran, Maria Belen Sarquis of Argentina, Lilit Mktrchian of Armenia and Katerina Lahno of Ukraine.

Cebuana Therese Gonzales is a head–turner who used to play in Cepca tournaments and is a very good player. Although I have not met them in person Kimberly Cuizon, Phoebe Bitoon and Christine Mayol are budding chess beauties according to arbiter Marvin Ruelan.

According to IM Manny Senador an astounding beauty is Arriane Aguja, a 2004 UP graduate who was U18 champion in Greece.

Friday, December 21, 2007

New Fischer book, a hoax?

By Frank 'Boy “ Pestaño

I’VE come across several items in various chess blogs about an alleged new Fischer book “My 61 memorable games” that was auctioned in Canadian Ebay but was withdrawn later, probably because the whole thing was a hoax. If you recall, one of the best selling books of all time was Fischer`s “My 60 memorable games.”

“hat was being auctioned was the first 50 copies and “improved analysis and commentary” by Fischer. Here is a foreword by Fischer himself quoted in the auction:

“It is no secret that I have withdrawn from competitive chess .This book will not focus on that subject. Certain views that I have expressed publicly in the past, through radio and the Internet and other forms of communication, are likewise not mentioned anywhere in this book. The only quarrels featured on these pages will be the silent battles of the two minds playing the game of chess. I know many of the readers seek answers to probing questions regarding the Bobby Fischer of 1972. That person no longer exists.

The questions I will answer are: Why did I write this book? Why now, after all these years? I’ve wanted to release an official version of my book updated in algebraic notation, with a few minor corrections. (Editor’s note: Unauthorized versions of Mr. Fischer’s book from 1969, My 60 Memorable Games, do exist.) I also have a few things to say to others that have written about my games that I strongly disagree with, to put it mildly. It’s about time that I addressed these issues. And why now?

The United Bank of Switzerland has taken almost all of the money from my 1992 rematch with Borris Spassky. For those who are unaware, this is over $3,000,000. My ongoing battle with them is getting nowhere despite International Law clearly being on my side. So I bring to you my previous 60 memorable games plus one from the event that has indirectly caused me so much trouble, in the hopes that the sales of this book will reverse that situation.

It was tempting to add many important games from the path leading up to and including the 1972 World Championship, but that was simply too big of a project for now.”

Any news from Fischer merits mention as he is now in a hospital in Rekjavik, Iceland due to “kidney problems” and some sites are even mentioning that his condition is serious.

. The 4th Singapore Open is being held from Dec. 16 to 22 and there were several Pinoy players who joined the contest. Mark Paragua, Enrique Paciencia and Jayson Gonzales, who needs only one more norm to become grandmaster, had a good start but faded in the closing rounds. Here are the top six players after round seven:

1.) GM Sandipan Chanda (India, 2593, 6.0) 2.) GM Azmaiparashvili Zurab (Georgia, 2606, 5.5) 3.) GM Zhang Zhong (Singapore, 2634, 5.5) 4.) GM Dao Thien Hai (Vietnam, 5.0) 5.) IM Julio Catalino Sadorra (Philippines, 2414, 5.0) 6.) IM laxman RR (India, 2395).

World Cup. Gata Kamsky has won the World Cup defeating Alexei Shirov in the four-game final with a win and three draws. He won $120,000, while Shirov had to settle with $80,000.

He did not lose a single game in the 128-field knockout format winning over Junior Champion Ahmed Adly in the first round, Boris Avrukh, Sergei Rublevski, Peter Svidler, Ruslan Ponomariov, Magnus Carlsen and finally Shirov.

I recall that back in the ’90s, Richard Bitoon, who won P30,000 in the recently concluded Rose Pharmacy Open Christmas tournament, was known as the “Kamsky of Cebu” as both look the same.

Cepca News. This is a reminder to all members that our grand finals and Christmas party will be tomorrow Dec. 22 at our house in Mabolo starting at 3 p.m.
For more information call 231-7656.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cepca grand finals and Rose Pharmacy Open

By Frank 'Boy” Pestaño

THE grand finals of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Association Inc. will be on Dec. 22 at 3 p.m. at our residence in Mabolo (in front of the old Coaco bldg. and at the back of NG Marble).

There will also be a side event among the non-qualifiers and the grand finals of the kiddies and juniors players. After the tournaments, we will celebrate our Christmas party and induct the new set of trustees and officers for 2008.

Inducting officer will be our honorary member National Master Bombi Aznar, a hall of famer in chess.

Kiddies qualifiers are Kyle Sevillano (January),Marie Cecille Lumapac (February), Felix Shaun Balbona (March), John Francis Balbona (April), Marq Balbona (May), Jan Tilus (June), King James Torres (July), Jeroni Vinculado (August), John Paler (September), Godfrey Villamor (October ), Giral Miral (November).

Junior Players are Christian Lumapac, Yves Fiel , Cy Balbanera , Nicky Sabiquil, Yuri Cauba and Jessa Balbona .

Kiddies, Juniors and other guests will be assessed at P160 per person.

Here are the monthly winners who will slug it out to claim the 2007 Cepca Championship: Percival Fiel (January), Nic Cuizon (February), Miguel Banebane (March), Joe Atillo (April), Maggi Dionson (May), Mandy Baria (June), Zaldy Tabanao (July), Jun Olis (August), Mat Matuco (September), Jojo Muralla (October), Richard Ouano (November), and Bombi Aznar.

The finalists will be split into two groups and each group will play a round robin among themselves. The top player on each group will play for the championship while the other placers will vie for third and fifth places, respectively.

Format will be the same with the Kiddies, while the Juniors will play a single round robin. It will be a 5-round Swiss with handicaps among the Cepca non-qualifiers.

To make our gathering a success , please give your contribution early (deadline Dec. 18). Deliver it to our affiliate Collonade Chess Club C/O Malou Pestaño or Handuraw Lahug c/o the cashier (near UP T-2326401). There will be different assessments for incoming and outgoing trustees, grand finalists and other members.

For more information call 4120447, or contact Mandy Baria at 0915-4411344 or Mat Matuco at 0918-9062341. If you cannot attend, be a good member and still give your contribution. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

Rose Pharmacy. The Christmas tournament of Rose Pharmacy will start tomorrow Dec. 15 at 12 p.m. at SM City Mall near the LTO licensing office.

Format will be a 5-round Swiss Tournament on both Saturday and Sunday. The top eight players on each day will qualify to the knockout format on Monday and Tuesday at the Deep Blue Café also at SM.

Prizes are: P30,000 for the champion, P15,000 for the runnerup. Losing semifinalsts will earn, P4,000, while losing quarterfinalists will get P2,000. Those who make it to the last eight get P1000 each.

There will also be a separate tournament for Kiddies Under 14 and also for the ladies.

Registration is P200, while for the kiddies and ladies divisions, it is P100.

Boojie Lim has been sponsoring tournaments since 1979 and his commitment and love for the game is phenomenal. He belongs to the elite company of the legendary Luis Rentero of Linares fame and Joop Von Oosterom of Melody Amber who make things happen in chess. To this day, Boojie remains humble and soft-spoken. He is also an honorary member of Cepca.

Vic-Governor Gregory Sanchez Jr. will be the guest of honor.

Commendation. Last weekend there was a break-in at our residence by an “unidentified” person. I reported the incident to the Mabolo Police Station 4 and was immediately investigated and attended to. Our family would like to thank SPO4 Raul Magdadaro, SPO2 Elmer Tanjay, PO3 Jeffrey Lanobis and PO2 Arnel Maglinto for their prompt action.


Friday, December 7, 2007

Fischer hospitalized; Kasparov jailed

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE two greatest chess players in history were in the limelight lately but in contrasting fashion. Bobby Fischer was reported as having been hospitalized lately in Reyljavik for “serious physical problems and strong signs of paranoia.”

Although the details are annoyingly vague and rather inconsistent, it has been mentioned that he has been in the Landspitali, the hospital for the University of Reyjavik for “several weeks” for kidney problems and he is not doing well . His life isn’t in danger but they are performing tests to figure what is wrong with him as he is afraid of everything.

His partner, Miyoko Watai of Japan, won’t take calls at all and Fischer cuts off anyone who speaks about him publicly so no one who actually knows him will speak to the press about his condition. The hospital will only confirm that Fischer is there.

Garry Kasparov has retired from the chess scene three years ago to enter the murky world of Russian politics. He has been leading demonstrations against the regime of the extremely popular Vladimir Putin and claim Putin is a “threat to democracy” and “has no respect for human rights.”

He was arrested lately and put in jail but released after five days. While in prison, Kasparov’s Lawyer Moskalenko said, “We have instructed him not to drink water or eat any food they might offer in detention.” The fear is that he might be poisoned. Amnesty International has condemned the arrest, classifying Kasparov as a prisoner of conscience. Meanwhile old rival Anatoly Karpov tried to visit him but was denied access.

Russia had an election a few days ago and the Party of Putin, United Russia, gathered over 60 percent of the vote as it had a clear cut program, good image and Putin has made the ordinary Russians proud of their country. Kasparov is apparently beating on a locked door.

World Cup. The tournament is on-going in Kanty-Mansiysk Russia as part of the World Championship Cycle to determine the challenger to former world champion Veselin Topalov. From an original field of 128 players which included our Darwin Laylo, we are now in the quarterfinals .

Quarterfinalists are Sergey Karjakin, who demolished Ivanchuk conqueror Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu; Ivan Cheparinov, who booted out Wang Yue; Ruslan Ponomariov, who had an easy win over Sasikiran Krishnan; Dmitry Jakovenko, who upset Levon Aronian; Alexei Shirov, who triumphed over Vladimir Akopian; the come-backing Gata Kamsky, who won over favorite Peter Svidler; wonder boy Magnus Carlsen, who scored a surprise against Michael Adams; and Evgeeny Aleekseev, who won over the
veteran and his namesake Evgeeny Bareev.

Pichay Cup. Standings after eight round. (Penultimate) 6.5 Ni Hua 6.0 Mark Paragua, Eugene Torre, Zhang Zhong 5.5 Joey Antonio,Wesley So,Li Chao, Fernie Donguines and Jayson Gonzales.

No pinoy can earn a GM norm.

Cepca News. In a meeting the other day, Cepca president Mat Matuco announced that the Grand Finals, Christmas party, and induction of new officers for 2008, including a side event for non-qualifiers, will be on Dec. 22 at Stella Maris starting at 2 pm.

Grand finalists who will vie for the Cepca 2007 Championships are Percival Fiel (January), Nic Cuizon (February), Miguel Banebane(March), Joe Atillo (April), Maggi Dionson (May), Mandy Baria ( June),Zaldy Tabanao (July), Jun Olis (August), Mat ,Matuco (September), Jojo Muralla (October). Richard Ouano (November) and honorary member Bombi Aznar, who is reserved for December.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The stars of tomorrow

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE World Youth Chess Championship finished yesterday with a record 1,500 plus players from 103 countries in Kemer-Antalya, Turkey. There were separate groups for girls and for boys, 8-Under, 10-Under, 12-Under, 14-Under, 16-Under and 18-Under.

The numbers make this event one of the biggest ever, rivaling even the Chess Olympiads of the past.

Here are the results in the categories we competed in after the final 11 rounds. Eight-Under champion is Maria Ivana Furtado of India with nine points. Our own Revita Samantha Glo managed six pts after winning her last two games.

In the Girls 10-Under category, Mira Mirano snared 6.5 points behind runaway winner Anna Styazhkina of Russia who scored 9.5 points. The 12-Under Girls was won by Marsel Efroimski of Israel with 9.5 points. Brena Mae Membrene scored 6 points.

The 14-Under Girls champion was Paidkidze Nazi with 9.5, while our own Chardine Cheradee Camacho could manage only 6.5 despite a good start.

Carl Victor Ochoa got 5.5 points in the Boys 16-Under behind four players who tied for first with 8.5 points. Cristian Chirila won on tiebreak. The 16-Under Girls winner was Keti Tsatsalashvili of Georgia with 8.5, while Kimberly Jane Cunanan had only 5 points.

Finally, Ivan Popov of Russia won the premiere 18-Under Boys by scoring 9 points, way ahead of Paulo James Florendo who settled for 6.5.

World Blitz. The World Blitz Championship was played by 20 pre-qualified players in a double round robin format at the Gum Department Store in Russia last November 21-22.

It was like a telenovela finish, full of dramatics. In the last round, the two top rated players in the world faced each other as Anand clawed his way to the top in the second half of the competition. Anand was up by two pawns and was a sure winner until a dramatic blunder assured Ivanchuk’s win. He won $25,000, while Anand settled for $15,000. Rate of play was four minutes with 2-second increments.

Here are the top six placers. 1.) Vassily Ivanchuck (Elo 2787, 19 wins) 2.) Viswanathan Anand (2801, 18) 3.)Alexander Grischuk (2715, 14) 4.) Gata Kamsky (2714, 16) 5.) Vladimir Kramnik (2785, 13) 6.) Peter Leko (2755, 13).

World Cup 2007. New GM Darwin Laylo Elo 2508 should hold his head high despite losing to French Champion Etienne Bacrot (2695) as he made the former child prodigy sweat by drawing the first two regular games. Darwin lost in the tiebreak but still won $6,000.

The Khanty-Mansiysk World Cup 2007 winner will challenge former Champion Velin Topalov in an eight-game contest early next year.

PGMA cup. This was a rather dismal performance by the locals as no Pinoy made a GM Norm. I was expecting 14-year-old Wesley So to make history as one of the youngest ever to make GM, but he faded in the last rounds.

The Chinese, as expected, dominated the event by grabbing the top three positions. Ni Hua, Li Chao and Zhou Weiqui had 7/9 points followed by Pinoys Mark Paragua, a surprising Dino Ballecer and Singapore’s Zhang Zhong with 6.5/9.

Cepca. Finally after a year-long monthly tournaments, here are the grand finalists for this year: (January) Nic Cuizon, (February) William Retanal, (March)Mike Banebane, (April) Tony Cabibil, (May) Maggi Dionson, (June) Mandy Baria, (July) Zaldy Tabanao, (August) Jun Olis, (September) Mat Matuco, (October) Jojo Muralla and (December) reserved for Honorary member Bombi Aznar.

Meanwhile, a contest was held during the Lapu-Lapu Fiesta and the winners were Ademar Toledo followed by Rito Bastida, Arthur Castanos, Aldwin Daculan and Felix Poloyapoy. Jun Olis was the tournament director. Trophies and cash were awarded by the 2007 Lapu-Lapu Fiesta Committee chaired by Mrs. Paz Radaza.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Rib ticklers and tournaments galore

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

HERE are some nice ones from the website to make your day.

Alekhine dies and approaches the Heaven’s gates, but is denied admittance because they don’t allow chess masters inside. He was just about to leave but looks through the gates and sees Efim Bogolyubov inside, and tries to object. “Hey, I thought you said you didn’t allow chess masters in there.” St. Peter replies “Oh, he’s not a chess
master, he just thinks he is.”

A man calls the FIDE office and asks, “I want to become FIDE president!

“Are you crazy?”

“No...Any other conditions?”

During the recent Karpov-Korchnoi world chess championship in Baguio the game was adjourned. In the lobby of the hotel several chess enthusiasts could be heard bragging, “I could beat Karpov with no problem”. “Oh yeah, I could beat both of them at the same time.” “That’s nothing, I could beat both of them blindfolded!”

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Finally, the hotel manager had had enough and threw them all out of the

But why?” a bystander asked.

“Because,” the manager replied “I hate chess nuts boasting by an open foyer.”

Capablanca was waiting in a train station in New York one day, with his coffee, newspaper and chess set, when a man approached him. Gesturing at the chess set, he asked if Capablanca cared for a game. Always delighted to play, Capablanca immediately set up the board, then removed his queen from the board, to even up the game.

Annoyed, the man blurted out, “Why did you do that? You don’t know me, I might beat you!” Unruffled, Capablanca replied, “Sir, if you could beat me, I would know you.”
NEW CYCLE. World Cup 2007 will start this Sunday at Khanty-Mansiyk, Russia with Darwin Laylo as the sole Philippine representative. He will join 128 others in the
knockout format who have qualified for the new two-year championship cycle from various elimination tournaments throughout this year.

Darwin is already assured of $6000 even if he loses in the first round. The champion will snare $120,000 and the right to play Veselin Topalov in an eight-game match next year. The winner will face the victor of the Kramnik- Anand match (to be played in 2008) in 2009 for undisputed World Champion.

BOY WONDER. The second PGMA Cup started yesterday at the Duty Free Fiesta Mall in Parañaque with three Cebuanos participating— Kimkim Yap, Voltaire Sevillano and Eden Diano. However, the limelight will focus on wonder boy 14-year-old Wesley So, the world’s strongest player in his age group with ELO 2531. So needs only one
more GM result, just like fellow International Masters Ronald Dableo and Jayson Gonzales, to become the country’s eighth grandmaster.

Eugene Torre and his fellow GMs Joey Antonio, Mark Paragua, Bong Villamayor and Nelson Mariano are also competing for the top prize of $6,000 out of a total purse of $40,000. Zhang Pengxiang, the winner of the Sixth Asia Chess Championship in Mandaue City in September and last year’s winner, has been tagged the favorite.

After the PGMA Cup will be the $30,000 Prospero Pichay Jr. Cup International Championship slated Dec. 1 to 7 at the Bayview Hotel in Manila. GM norms are also at stake here and I would not be surprised if we have three more GMs before the year ends.

Cepca news. The November monthly competition will be this Sunday at Deep Blue Café in SM City starting at 1 p.m.

The following trustees were elected during our elections last month-Jongjong Melendez, Maggi Dionson, Joe Atillo, Nato Casia, Marylou Pagarigan, Fabio Abucejo, Ben Dimaano, Tony Cabibil and myself.

You must all be present this Sunday as we will elect among ourselves the officers for the year 2008-10.

Friday, November 16, 2007

When grandmasters were still children

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I WROTE about child prodigies years ago and since then, there has been a new crop of grandmasters.

Most of these children have lived up to expectations and some are competing with the very best.

The youngest to become GM is still Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine at 12 years and 7 months in 2002. His rating is 2694, making him No. 24 in the world today.

In 2006, Parimarjan Negi of India achieved the title at 13 years and three months and 27 days. He competed in the Asian Individual tournament in Cebu almost two months ago with good results.

Five days older than Negi to become GM is Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who has a rating of 2714 and is now World No. 17. I think that he will be a world champion someday.

Bu Xianzhi of China is another potential world champion who snared the GM title at age 13 years 10 months in 1999 and is rated 2692.

Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan is rated No. 9 in the world with Elo 2746. He became a GM at age 14 years and 14 days in 2001.

Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine, Etienne Bacrot and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France reached GM status at 14 in 1997 and are rated at 2706, 2695 and 2573 respectively. Ruslan was Fide Champion in 2002.

Hungarian Peter Leko became a GM in1994 at age 14 and is way up there at No.5 in the world with Elo 2755. He is said to have an eidetic or photographic memoryBoth Yuri Kuzubov of Ukraine and Nguyen Ngoc Troung Son of Vietnam also achieved GM status in 2004 at 14. Yuri is labeled as the “New Karpov”.

The latest to capture the GM title last July 15 is Italian-American Fabiano Caruana at 14 years and 11 months, beating Hikaru Nakamura by two months and Bobby Fischer by six months.

Koneru Humpy of India holds the record for the youngest woman ever to become a grandmaster at 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgar’s previous record by three months.

Other notable boy GMs are Pentala Harikrishna of India and Alejandro Ramirez of Costa Rica both at age 15.

Polgar is by far the strongest female chess player in history. In 1991, she achieved the title of grandmaster at the age of 15 years and four months, three months younger than Bobby Fischer, when he got his 23 years before.

Quads Kim Steven Yap achieved an IM norm in the Asian Individual competition in Cebu almost two months ago.

As a tuneup to the Asean Grand Prix, which will be held later this month in Manila, Bogie Lim sponsored a double round robin tournament among four players in deep Blue Cafe and the final results are: Richard Natividad 4.5, Voltaire Sevillano 4, Yap 2 and Eden Diano 1.5.

XMOPI reunion. This group is exclusive to former employees of Mobil Oil Philippines, Inc., a multinational company that scaled down most of its operations in September 1983.

I don‘t know the real score but I think that it was a serious miscalculation and mistake on the part of top management to cease operations in the the Philippines which has been here since 1892 (remember “cock” kerosene ?). A lot of effort and opportunities were wasted as the business environment has improved since then as attested by the entry of new players.

The group will have a Grand Reunion in January 2009 in Cebu with attendees from all over the world including expatriates,

We will dicuss the details in a get-together meeting tomorrow at Ching’s Palace in Lahug at 10:30 a.m.-3pm. Participants are from Manila, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, USA and Cebu. If you were a former employee, you are invited to attend.

CEPCA NEWS. Our November handicapping tournament will be on Nov. 25 at the Deep Blue Café at 1pm. This is your last chance to qualify for the grand finals in December.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Little known chess stories

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

CURRENT world champion Viswanathan Anand learned the intricacies of the game here in the Philippines. In 1978, while still a boy, he arrived here with his father who was contracted as a consultant by the Philippine National Railways. His mentor was the late National Master Victor Cabrido.

Jose Rizal was well known as a skilled chess player. However, he had a hard time defeating Manuel Luz, his barkada and town mate, as he was distracted by the presence of Segunda Katigbak, Manuel‘s girlfriend and future wife.

Segunda was his puppy love of whom he wrote “She was not the most beautiful woman I had ever seen but I had never seen one more bewitching and alluring.”

Heber Bartolome is the voice and soul behind legendary protest folk-rock band Banyuhay, who gained immortality with the unforgettable phrase: “Tayo’y mga Pinoy, tayo’y hindi kano, wag kang mahihiya, kung ang ilong mo ay pango.” Did anyone of you know that when he was a struggling musician in Olongapo he was a chess hustler to help make ends meet? If I am not mistaken he married Maita Gomez, the highly principled model who became Miss Philippines in 1967. Maita, after a failed marriage to Carlos Perez-Rubio, who belonged to a prominent family, left a life of comfort and leisure to join the leftist underground movement. While still a model, the son of the King of Saudi Arabia reportedly had a crush on her.

Argentine GM Miguel Quinteros is married to a sister of former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz, whom he met at the 1973 Manila Interzonal. In 1979, he missed Round 1 of the Atlantic Open in Washington D.C. because he thought the tournament was in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

One of the founders of the Cebu Executives and Professional Association, Art Ynclino, defeated Russian champion Evgeni Vasiukov during a simul here in Cebu in 1979.

A few years earlier, Zaldy Ybañez, a nuclear engineer and former varsity player of Cebu Institute of Technology defeated world champion Tigran Petrosian also in a simul exhibition here.

During the 1974 Nice Chess Olympiad, Eugene Torre needed a draw against Robert Byrne to become a grandmaster. After an exchange of minor pieces, Torre offered a draw. The American stood up to consult team captain Pal Benko. He came back to his seat, pondered for a few minutes and then extended his hand to congratulate the first Asian Grandmaster—a phenomenon back then.

During the 1975 Marlboro Chess Classic in Manila IM Rosendo Balinas of the Philippines had a winning position against Yugoslav GM Svetozar Gligoric when suddenly Gligoric accepted a draw which Balinas claimed he never offered. An exchange of harsh words followed which led to the famous incident when GM Polugaevsky berated Balinas for lack of respect for grandmasters.

Corsica Masters. Japanese-American Hikaru Nakamura won the knockout rapid tournament and defeated an elite field. However what is of interest to us was that Cebuano IM Joseph Sanches tied for fourth to 17th with a 7/10 result. He impressed the field further by winning the blitz portion of the event, which attracted 130 players.

Chess poem. Rene Mckeene has collected most of my articles and has sent me a nice original poem which he composed. He is from Pampanga and is an avid chess player and painter.

Let’s Play Chess
Chess is my Leisure, my
Pleasure, and my Treasure;
Let’s play chess, Monsieur
And feel the thrill beyond measure;
Don’t mind all the Pressure,
Just grip your moves exact and sure;
Our future health is assured
No more Alzheimers to cure;
So let’s play chess, Monsieur.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Checkmate for chess-loving serial killer

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I RECEIVED some feedback about the Russian serial killer who kept a macabre tally of his victims by placing a coin on each square of the chessboard with a goal of killing 64 people.

Well, he has been convicted of 48 counts of murder after a trial that shocked and entranced the whole world and was even featured in National Geographic on cable. He has confessed to killing people over six years and said he had missed his goal.

At the beginning of his trial, Pichushkin complained of unfair treatment at being charged with only 48 murders. He claimed to have killed 63—13 more than Andrei Chikatilo, known as the “Rostov Ripper”, who was convicted of 50 murders in a 1992 trial.

Russians have watched the chessboard killer pacing up and down his glass box with a mixture of revulsion and horror, a fascination that began with a confession broadcast on national television last year.

Alexander Pichushkin sat in silence as a jury foreman read out 48 successive and unanimous guilty verdicts. He showed no emotion and no remorse.

In a televised confession shortly after his detention, he told police that “a life without murders was like a life without food.” He further said “It was a necessity you understand? I felt like a father to these people. I opened up a door for them to a new world.”

Pichuskin said he lured most of victims to the heavily wooded park by promising to share a bottle of vodka with them to mourn the death of his beloved dog. He then bludgeoned his victims to death, placing the empty vodka bottle in their shattered skulls.

Pichushkin, who worked at a small grocery store in south-west Moscow, was arrested in June on suspicion of killing a female colleague, whose body was found in Bitsyevskiy park the day before. The woman, Marina Moskaleva, had reportedly left Mr Pichushkin’s number with her son before she was killed.

Since Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, he has been sentenced to life in prison.

Leko-Ivanchuk. Peter Leko ranked fifth in the world with Elo 2755 and Vassily Ivanchuk currently No. 2 with Elo 2787 played an exhibition rapid match in Mukachevo, a small town located in Western Ukraine. Four games were played on each day, Oct. 26,27 and 28.

After eight rounds Ivanchuk was leading by two full points with 2 wins and 6 draws but Leko managed to equalize by snaring Games 9 and 11. The tiebreak Game 13 was drawn but Ivanchuk won Game 14 and the match.

Lékó is an extremely solid player and is considered to be one of the most difficult players in the world to defeat. On the other hand, Ivanchuk’s playing style is unpredictable and highly original, making him a threat to any chess player.

BLINDFOLD. The Bilbao Blindfold Chess World Cup featured recently the top players of the world namely Veselin Topalov, Judit Polgar and the future and rising young stars, Magnus Carlsen (16), Sergey karjakin (18), Bu Xianzhi (22) and Pentala Harikrishna (21). The event was a double round robin on a rapid format.

I am interested in this match as during the voting for the Chess Oscar this year, Bu Xianzhi was one of my top nominees and he has shown in this event that he has the potential to be world champion.

This tournament is unique in several ways—play is by blindfold, the “Sofia” rule is in effect, meaning no draws are allowed without the arbiter’s consent and three points are awarded for a win and 1 for a draw.

Final results after 10 rounds: 1.) Xianzhi (China, 2692, 21) 2.) Karjakin (Ukraine, 2694, 17) 3.) Carlsen (Norway, 2714, 16) 4.) Polgar (Hungary, 2708, 12 5.) Topalov (Bulgaria, 2769, 9) 6.) Harikrishna (India, 2668, 6.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Eugene Torre and Bobby Fischer

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

UNKNOWN to many, Bobby Fischer and Eugene Torre are the best of friends.

Here are some anecdotes lifted from the site and updated.

Bobby made Eugene his official second in his 1992 return match with Boris Spassky that took place in war-torn Yugoslavia. It was then sanctioned by the United Nations.

Not a well-known fact is that Cebuano NM Eric Gloria was a part of Fischer’s team in this match. I recall Eric confiding in me some inside information about the match upon their arrival from Montenegro, Yugoslavia.

Bobby also asked the assistance of Eugene in 1996 when the eccentric American genius launched “Fischer Random Chess” in Argentina.

The story goes that during that period, Eugene and Bobby boarded a taxi in Buenos Aires and the driver easily recognized Eugene as a chess player. As they were about to leave the taxi, the driver, not knowing who the other passenger was, asked Eugene, “Whatever happened to that crazy guy Fischer?”

During the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match in Rekjavik, the Russians linked Spassky’s erratic play with Fischer’s chair. The organizers put a 24-hour police guard around the chair while x-ray tests were performed. Nothing unusual was found except two dead flies.

When Fischer was in prison in Japan because of a cancelled passport, Spassky wrote to President Bush, “Bobby and I committed the same crime. Arrest me also. And put me in the same cell with Bobby and give us a chess set.”

To which Fischer quipped, “Not him, I want a chick.” Bobby suggested GM Alexandra Kosteniuk as cellmate, who is as beautiful as the young Elizabeth Taylor.

When Bobby Fischer was detained in Japan, Filipino fans formed a car caravan plastered with signs calling “Free Bobby Fischer, he is an international treasure.”

In Buenos Aires 1960 the young Fischer, then almost 17, lost his virginity to a lady commissioned for the occasion by GM Larry Evans. Asked the next day what he thought of the experience, Fischer said “Chess is better!”

CEPCA NEWS. The club elected the following as members of the board of trustees last Sunday at the Deep Blue Café SM City: Jongjong Melendez, Maggi Dionson, Joe Atillo, Marilou Pagarigan, Rene Casia, Fabio Abucejo, Ben Dimaano, Tony Cabibil and myself. The elected trustees will meet at a later date to elect among themselves the officers of the club.

After the election, we held our October tournament and the champion was Jojo Muralla. Second to fifth placers were Nic Cuizon, Fabio Abucejo, Jongjong Melendez and Percival Fiel, respectively.

We had four new members and we would like to introduce and welcome them to the club.

Ariel S. Atibula is a mechanical engineer working in the Court of Appeals-Cebu Station as administrative officer and chief maintenance unit. He learned to play chess at a young age and became active and studied more when he was working in Manila . He is a back-to-back champion, 2006-07 in a competition in their office.

Richard F. Ouano is connected with the Department of Interior and Local Government assigned in Madridejos, Cebu. He is 39 years old, married with three children, Honey Fe (10), Lawrence Paul (6) and Richard Jr. (4).

Cyrus Ian Pascua is a University of the Philippines graduate with a degree in BS Metallurgical Engineering and is connected with E-telecare Global Solutions. He was taught chess by his dad during his elementary years. He thinks that chess is not just a game of mind but also requires dedication and passion. He also likes billiards, basketball, table tennis, badminton and PC games.

David Garces is a seaman, who resides in Talisay City.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The signs of a chess addict

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño
Chessmoso is full of information if you want the latest news on chess. Recently, it came out with an “ultimate collection” of chess tidbits, collected by a certain Edmund Lee Beronio from the Internet. Most of these I am familiar with and some had even been featured in this column in the past. Here are the “signs” of a chess addict (edited and updated).

1.) You write a chess column. 2.) During sex, you and your partner use blitz time controls. 3.) You think the book “The Mating Game” is a chess book in spite of the nude couple on the cover.

4.) You multiply 8x8 faster than 7x7 5.) You call your girlfriend “Queen” instead of darling 6.) When you look at a pretty woman you think, “Could she play chess?”

7.) You want the school teacher to give your children an Elo-rating instead of grades 8.) You look at a newspaper’s chess column before any other section. 9.) You mumble “J’adoube” when bumping into things. 10.) You keep a chess book and set in the bathroom.

11.) You ask new acquaintances if they know how to play chess. 12.) You ask all chess players, “What’s your rating?” 13.) You maintain a chess blog. 14.) You own more books about chess than any other subject. 15.) You own more chess clocks than watches.

16.) You call a new friend a “novelty” 17.) You think the Olympics takes place every two years. 18.) You name your first child Bobby or Judith and you decorate your nursery in black and white squares “just in case.” 19.) You panic for an instant when a waiter says “Check?” 20.) You sponsor chess tournaments.

COMEBACK KID. Mark Paragua won the recently held 2007 Calabarzon open, which attracted 150 players from all over the country and is sponsored by educator
Saturnino “Bong” Belen. Belen is the owner and president of Faith (First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities).

The format was a seven-round Swiss followed by a two-game knockout system among the top 16 players. The quarterfinalists were IM Ronald Bancod, who won over GM Joey Antonio; IM Barlo Nadera, who won over GM Eugene Torre; GM Paragua, who over IM John Paul Gomez; and IM Richard Bitoon, who won over new GM Darwin Laylo.

In the semis, Bitoon prevailed over Nadera, while Paragua humbled Bancod. Final results saw Paragua taking home the P100,000 top purse. Bitoon was second and he took home P30,000 and Bancod was at third and pocketed P20,000. Nadera salvaged fourth place and took the P10,000 prize.

SO’S SECOND NORM. Wesley So got his second GM norm even if he went kagar in the second half of the recently concluded World U-20 Juniors and Girls Youth Tournament in Yerevan, Armenia. With only 21/2 points in the final seven rounds, he still achieved what he was aiming for, his second GM norm, due to an amazing start where he was leader after six rounds.

He needs to make a third norm probably in the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Cup next month in Manila or the first leg of the Asean grand prix in December hopefully in Cebu to make the GM title.

The surprise winner was GM Adly Ahmed of Egypt with a solo 10/13 performance. He was the first African winner in a major tournament.

SCRABBLE. There were two events last weekend at SM City organized by tournament director Roger Abella, a chess hall of famer.

Saturday’s winners were Renante de la Cerna, who won P8,000, Odette Rio, Teodoro Martus, Rolly Navarro and Eduardo Enaje, who took home P3,000, P2,000 and P1,000, respectively.

Sunday’s winners were Martus (P5,000), Renz Yamson (P3,000) and Dart Eslao (P2,000).

CEPCA NEWS. We will be holding our elections this Sunday to elect the officers and members of the board of trustees for 2008-2009 at the Deep Blue Café SM City Cebu at 1p.m. After the elections we will hold our monthly tournament for October. Attendance is compulsory.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chess-loving serial killer

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THIS one is for the books, a candidate for “Believe it or not”. In an article in the Internet at Foxnews, a Russian has confessed to murdering 63 people with a goal of filling all the 64 squares on the chessboard.

In his trial which started last month, Alexander Pichushkin said that he should be charged of all 63 murders as not to do so would be unfair to all his victims.

Prosecutors have charged him with 49 murders committed between 2001-2006 in Bittsa Park, a wild area on the edge of Moscow.

In testimony at the City Court, he recalled the details of his killings especially his first, committed in 1992. “This first murder, it’s like first love, it’s unforgettable.”

The article also noted that “He was aware that a woman whom he intended to kill left a note at home saying she was going for a stroll with him — but killed her anyway.” The note led to his arrest in June 2006.”I burnt myself, so there’s no need for the cops to take credit for catching me,” he says. “I’m a professional.”

Most of his victims were men whom he met on the park and invited for a drink to mourn “the loss of his beloved dog.” In 2001 he killed six in one month. Most of his victims were killed by being strangled or getting hit on the head and thrown into a sewage pit.

According to Foxnews “From 2005, he began to kill with ‘particular cruelty,’ hitting his intoxicated victims multiple times in the head with a hammer, then sticking an unfinished bottle of vodka into their broken skull.”

He has been quoted as saying “For me, a life without murder is like a life without food for you”

Psychiatrists who have examined him say that he is sane. Whaaaat?

Here is a cute relevant joke: What do you call a breakfast food murderer? A cereal killer—hehehe.

World Juniors. The World 20-Under Championship for juniors and girls is being held in Yerevan, Armenia from Oct. 2 to 17. The Philippine Junior representative is 14-year-old IM Wesley So, the youngest player of the tournament, rated 13th with an Elo of 2531 among 80 players.

Girl representative is 15-year-old Aices Salvador rated 49th among 58 players with an Elo of 1992 .

The text of the town among chessplayers was the rocket start of Wesley with four wins and two draws in the first six rounds to grab the lead with five points.

However, in the seventh round he lost to GM Adly Ahmed from the Sinai Peninsula and slid to third in a tie with eight others.

Aices is surprisingly at 15th to 26th place with 4 points after 7 rounds.

Both events are slated for 13 rounds and the winners, juniors and girls, will automatically become Grandmaster and Woman Grandmaster respectively .

Twin Scrabble. There will be twin scrabble tournaments at the Trade Hall of SM City tomorrow and Sunday.

Saturday’s event is facilitated by Nascap, while Sunday‘s tournament is sponsored by the Cebu Scrabble Association and the University of Visayas.

Registration for the twin competition is P300 with 50 percent discount for students, the first round starts at 10:45 and the eighth round at about 7:30 p.m.

Prizes for Saturday are : Champion (P8,000), second placer (P4,000), third placer (P3,000),fourth placer (P2,000) and fifth (P1,000); for Sunday, the first, second and third will get P5,000,P3,000 and P2000, respectively.

Players must bring their own clock. The sponsor is Richwell Trading Corporation and the tournament director is Roger Abella, a master in chess and scrabble.

Cepca news. We will have a general membership meeting on Oct. 21 to elect the new officers of the club for the years 2008-09 at Deep Blue Café starting 1 p.m. Our monthly tournament will follow after the elections. Attendance is compulsory.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Anand breaches 2800; Antonio is RP’s no. 1

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

NEWLY crowned World Champion Vishy Anand topped the 2800 mark in the just released third quarter ratings of the World Chess Federation. The other significant result is the rise of Ivanchuk to the number two position after winning the Montreal and Aerosvit 2007.

Judit Polgar is again the highest-rated woman for the 29th consecutive time with 2708 . Teimour Radjabov is the highest-rated junior player for the 14th time with 2742, while Koneru Humpy is world’s no.1 girl for the 22nd time with 2606.

Although Joey Antonio missed the World Cup by a whisker in the just concluded sixth Asian Individual Championships, his performance was good enough to make him the highest-rated Pinoy now with 2540, replacing Eugene Torre. Torre slid down to a tie with boy wonder Wesley So at 2531.

Mark Paragua, on the other hand, continued his descent now with 2514 after losing 11 Elo points. Paragua was at one time rated among the top 100 in the world.

Darwin Laylo, given a reprieve by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCPF), was the only Filipino to qualify for the World Cup in the Asian Championships and on the side, became a grandmaster. He, however, is nowhere to be found in the latest Fide ratings together with the other players, who were suspended for game fixing, namely IMs Ronald Dableo, Chito Garma and Oliver Barbosa. The four have denied the accusation.

One of the guidelines issued by Fide is that a player must have a rating of at least 2500 to become a full-pledged grandmaster. In effect, Laylo cannot be confirmed a GM unless his rating breaches the 2500 mark. As of now, his rating is 2486. Aside from winning $2,167 in the Asian tourney, he was given $1,000 by NCPF president Prospero Pichay, for achieving grandmaster status.

Kim Steven Yap, the hometown boy who made an impressive performance, snatched an IM norm and gained a massive 91 Elo to stand tall at 2337.

Taking the top spot in the distaff side of the Philippines is WNM Catherine Pereña with 2247, followed by WNM Shercila Cua (2203), WFM Sheerie Joy Lomibao (2186) and WIM Beverly Mendoza (2132) and WNM Sherily Cua sharing the fifth spot.

I have been informed that Pichay plans to write to the president of Fide, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, to accommodate Antonio to the World Cup.

Kirsan has the authority to include five nominees to the World Cup and has already appointed four, so Butch Pichay and Antonio better hurry up.

The top 10 men in the world are Anand (India, 2801, 38), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2787, 38), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia, 2785, 32), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria, 2769, 32), Peter Leko (Hungary, 2755, 28), Alexander Morozevich (Russia, 2755, 30), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, 2752, 22),Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan, 2742, 20), Levon Aronian (Armania, 2741, 25) and Alexei Shirov (Spain, 2739, 35).

The top 10 in the women’s class are Judit Polgar (Hungary, 2708, 31), Koneru Humpy (India, 2606, 20), Pia Cramling (Sweden, 2531, 44), Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2531, 31), Zhao Xue (China, 2530, 22), Kosteniuk Alexandra (Russia, 2515, 23), Pia Sebag (France, 2509, 21), Hou Yifan (China, 2502, 13), Chiburdanidze Maia (Georgia, 2500, 46) and Kosintseva Tatiana (Russia, 2492, 21).

The top 10 in the Philippines are Antonio Jr.(2540, 45), Torre (2531, 56), So (2531, 14), Paraqua (2514, 23), Rogelio Barcenilla (2503), Joseph Sanchez (2496, 37), Oliver Dimakiling (2491, 27), John Paul Gomez (2469), Roland Salvador (2456, 25) and Jayson Gonzales (2454).

Country rank (average Elo of top 10 players, number of GMs, IMs, total titled players): Russia (2727, 173, 441, 1736), Ukraine (2676, 63, 172, 354) USA (2631, 61, 109, 475), Armenia (2628, 20, 23, 61), France (2625, 30, 76, 266) followed by Hungary, China, Poland, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The Philippines is at 34th (2499, 5, 27, 44).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Close fight seen for 10 slots

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I WAS expecting the Chinese to claim at least six slots to the World Cup but a surprisingly strong showing by the Indonesians ,Indians and Filipinos might reduce it to four.

The story of the tournament though is the rise of the unheralded Cebuano Kim Steven Yap, a 19-year-old student, to unexpected stardom. Despite an eighth round loss to Darwin Laylo, who has a story to tell himself, Kim is only half point from bagging his first IM norm.

Talking to him, he is even targeting an outright GM norm which is a very tall order indeed considering the quality of the opposition. There are still three rounds to play and he needs to score 1 and 1/2 points more.

The highest performing Pinoy is Darwin Laylo with 5 1/2 points after 8 rounds.

Darwin was not even expected to play as he was serving a six-month suspension but was lifted for this tournament. Darwin needs only ½ point in his last three games to finally gain his third and final norm and become a grandmaster.

My favorite player Eugene Torre is practically out of the top 10 as he suffered back-to-back losses versus Das Neelotpal of India and Ni Hua of China, the top seeded player in the tournament. I expect both gentlemen to enter the winners’ circle.

Here is my fearless forecast on the magic 10 players: Zhang Pengxiang, Wang Hao ,Ni Hua, Zhao Jun, Megaranto Susanto

Darwin Laylo, Rogelio Antonio, Gopal G.N., Utut Adianto and Neelotpal Das.

The contest is very close though as there is still an eternity to play with three rounds to go. An additional 20 players still has a mathematical chance to share the limelight depending on their performance in the remaining games.

SIDE EVENTS. A side event of the tournament is the Cebu Open, which attracted about 70 players, featuring P54,000 in prizes.

Another one is the executives tournament which starts today at 1 p.m. in the same venue. Registration is P500 with P8,000 going to the champion. Time control is 25 minutes per player, seven rounds Swiss. About 15 members from the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association are expected to play led by its president Mat Matuco.

The Philippines now has 12 new Fide arbiters, three from Cebu. Twenty five aspirants registered for the four-day seminar conducted by Fide honorary president Florencio Campomanes, Fide secretary general Ignatius Leong of Singapore, Dr. Andrzed Filipowicz of Poland and the arbiter of this Asian Championship, Casto Abundo.

The new Fide arbiters from Cebu are NM Roger Abella, who provided me the insights of the whole tournament, Marvin Ruelan and University of Cebu coach, Luis Navaja.

The point men for this Asian Individual Championship are Tournament Director Willie Abalos and Cebu Chess Federation president, Bogie Lim.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. Vishwanatan Anand of India has practically snatched the World Championship with a lead of 1 and 1/2 points over his closest pursuer, Boris Gelfand of Israel after the 11th round. Only a miracle can stop the Indian from becoming undisputed World Champion.

There are still three rounds left and a lead like that is like leading by 50 points in the last quarter of a basketball game.

Anand is the only unbeaten player in this 8-man double-round robin format. He drew both his games versus Kramnik and Gelfand and garnered a win each over Grischuk ,Aronian ,Morozevich and Svidler.

Round 11 Standings: 1. Anand, Viswanathan 2792 7.5; 2. Gelfand, Boris 2733 6.0; 3. Kramnik, Vladimir 2769 5.5; 4. Leko, Peter 2751 5.5; 5. Aronian, Levon 2750 5.5; 6. Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2726 5.0; 7. Svidler, Peter RUS 2735 4.5; 8. Morozevich, Alexander RUS 2758 4.5.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hosting the Chess Olympiad

By Frank "Boy” Pestaño

FOR the past several weeks, I was looking forward to the 6th Individual Asian Chess Championship at the classy Cebu International Convention Center as I wanted to meet as many grandmasters as possible in my lifetime. You see, my childhood heroes are not Superman, Batman or whoever but Mikhael Botvinnik, Paul Keres, David Bronstein and other chess legends.

I would have wanted to cover the tournament for Sun.Star but last Tuesday evening I was afflicted with a severe case of allergy that up to now makes me feel utterly uncomfortable and sore. My doctor told me that I was lucky that it had not spread to my larynx but to make sure that my lungs are okey, I will have an x-ray this afternoon.

I was excited to read in the Sun.Star issue last Thursday that National Chess Federation of the Philippines President Prospero Pichay and Gov. Gwen Garcia will bid for the hosting of the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Cebu.

To recall, the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila at the Philippine International Convention Center, orchestrated by the now Fide Honorary President Florencio Campomanes, was probably the best ever. It helped a lot also that President Corazon Aquino and her then executive secretary Frank Drilon are chess players. Since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a chess player, she will understand Pichay’s bid.

It needs a superb leader and organizer and assistance by the national leadership to host a Chess Olympiad. Aside from the logistics involved, the venue of the tournament and capacity of the host city will be taken into consideration. Cebu has both and more. I hope that Pichay will still be NCFP president by that time as he has done a good job during his current term.

When Fide was founded in 1924, the desire of the organizers was to regularly hold an International Team tournament.

The Olympiad is held every even-numbered years although prior to World War II, the event was sometimes held annually. There was also an “unofficial” series of Chess Olympiads which ended in 1976.

The 2008 Olympiad is due to be held in Dresden, Germany which beat the only other bidder, Tallinn. The 2010 Olympiad is due to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Will it be Cebu 2012?

Gens una sumus! This was the motto adopted by Fide and indeed the Chess Olympiads unite the whole world. The 37th in Turin, Italy in 2006 with 150 Men’s team and 108 Women’s made it the biggest Olympiad ever; every continent was represented. Men’s teams (six players) plus the women’s teams ( four players ), make the modern chess Olympiads the biggest gathering of chess talent in the world. National, International Masters and grandmasters, world champions have taken part in the Olympiads.

1st round results. The most significant result in the first round was the win by IM Mahjoobzardast Morteza (2479) of Iran versus the top seed of the tournament, GM Ni Hua (2681) of China. Another upset win was achieved by IM Al Sayed Mohammad (2469) of Qatar over GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2586) of India, who I understand, already qualifies for the World Cup by
winning Zone 3.2.

GMs Eugene Torre, Joey Antonio and Mark Paragua won over their respective opponents but IM Oliver Dimakiling (2500) was not lucky as he lost To FM N.A. Hussein (2341) of Iraq. Cebuano IMs Richard Bitoon and Barlo Nadera drew their matches against strong opponents, both Vietnamese.

Emmanuel Senador, Ronald Bancod, Rustum Tolentino and Julio Sadorra were on the losing end but Kim Steven Yap (2246) had a feast over highly rated Enamul Hossain (2485 ) of Bangladesh.

Thanks to arbiter Linky Yap for forwarding to me these results.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Understanding the messy championships

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE whole mess started in 1993 when then world champion Garry Kasparov broke away from Fide together with Nigel Short in what he accepts now as “the worst mistake of my career and a serious miscalculation” on his part.

Since then, there has been no undisputed champion until last year when Vladimir Kramnik defeated Veselin Topalov in their Unification Match in Elista, Kalmykia , Russia.

Kramnik (2769) will be facing the top seven players in a double round robin format in the World Chess Championship 2007 in Mexico (WCCT 2007) starting today up to the 30th of the month. The winner, will in the meantime, be accepted by everybody including Kramnik and Topalov, as the undisputed world champion.

The players are Viswanathan Anand (2792, India), Alexander Morozevich (2758, Russia), Peter Leko (2751, Hungary), Levon Aronian (2750, Armenia), Peter Svidler (2735, Russia), Boris Gelfand (2733, Israel) and Alexander Grischuk (2726, Russia). Prize fund is $1.3million.

Also on Sept. 18 to 30 this month a Continental Elimination tournament will be held at the Cebu International Convention
Center to determine the 10 Asian qualifiers to the World Cup.

The World Cup is a 128-player knockout contest and will be staged in Khanty, Mansiysk Russia on Nov. 23, this year.

Fide has instituted a scenario where the interests of Kramnik, Topalov and the winner of the World Cup will be respected.

The scenario favors both Kramnik and Topalov and the other top players are very vocal against it, especially Anand, who is
now rated numero uno.

Fide apparently appreciates the victory of Topalov in the 2005 World finals in San Luis , Argentina and his unfortunate exclusion in Mexico.

According to Fide, the following are the guidelines for the 2007 to 2009 World Championship Cycle. “The winner of the
World Cup will advance to the next stage of the World Championship cycle 2007-2009 and play a match against an opponent to
be determined depending on the final results of the World Chess Championship Tournament (WCCT 2007) in Mexico.

“If the winner of the WCCT 2007 in Mexico is any player other than Kramnik, then a World Championship match of 12 games will be held within the period May to September 2008 between the reigning World Champion (winner of WCCT 2007) and the then previous World Champion Kramnik (match A). The minimum net prize fund will be $1,000,000.

“At the same year 2008, and after match A, the winner of the World Cup 2007 will play a challenger’s match of eight games against Topalov with a minimum net prize fund of $150,000 (match B).

“In 2009 (within the first six months) a World Championship match will be held between the reigning World Champion (winner of match A) and the winner of match B.

“If the winner of the WCCT 2007 in Mexico is Kramnik, then a World Championship match of 12 games, Kramnik vs. Topalov, will be held within the period of May to September 2008. The minimum net prize fund will be $1,000,000.

“In 2009 (within the first six months) the winner of the World Cup 2007 will play a World Championship match of 12 games against the winner of the World Championship match 2008 between Kramnik and Topalov.

“In case a player wins the WCCT 2007 in Mexico, the World Cup 2007 in Khanty-Mansiysk and the 2008 World Championship Match, then the challenger’s match will be organized as the World Championship Match 2009.”

Whew! Basically in the future, the winners of the World Cup and the Grand Prix will play a match to determine who will challenge the world champion.

CEPCA NEWS. Our September tournament will be this Sunday at the Deep Blue Café SMCity starting at 1 p.m.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The bumpy road to the top of the world

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step. The sixth Asian Individual Chess Championships that will commence on Sept. 19-30 at the Cebu International Convention Center is a continental elimination that will determine the 10 players, who will play in the World Cup 2007 at Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia on Nov. 23.

What is at stake in the biggest competition ever held in Cebu is not the $40,000 total cash prize, which is substantial, but the prestige and the jab at becoming a world champion.

This tournament involves 44 federations in Asia. Each federation is entitled to send a representative who will enjoy free accommodations at the Crown Regency in Mactan.

The World Cup 2007 is a 128-player knockout competition and the winner will play either Kramnik or Topalov for the World Championship in 2009, depending on who will win the World Championship in Mexico City which starts next week on Sept. 12.

The National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) has released the initial registrants and I was surprised that a good number of highly rated players are missing. Upon checking the regulations at Fide, Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, Sasikiran Krishnan and Pentala Harikrishna of India are absent from this tournament as they are already qualified for the World Cup due to their high ratings.

Players who have less than 2300 Elo cannot play in this competition.

Reviewing the ratings of our players, only 45 have ratings above 2300 and even then some are inactive or are residing abroad. My estimate is that only 10-15 Pinoys will play as the entry fees are on the high side—$100 for NCFP members and $150 for the Asian Chess Federation (ACF) members or about P12,000. This amount is way beyond the capacity of most players unless they can find a sponsor.

Taking a look at the early registrants so far, the Chinese look formidable.

They have entered 10 players, six of them are super GMs namely, Wang Yue (2696), Bu Xiangzhi (2685), Ni Hua (2681), Zhang Pengxiang (2649), Ye Jiangchuan 2632 and Wang Hao (2626). The same players are fresh from their conquest in Russia 52.5-47.5 last week at Nizhniy Novgorod with the men winning a close 25.5-24.5 and the women a devastating 27-23.

Indonesia has its usual reliables Utut Adianto (2583) and Megaranto Susanto (2554). Iran is expected to send Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (2610), the surprise in the Asian Games in Qatar and Elshan Moradiabadi (2540).

India is sending about 10 players led by Shekhar Ganguly (2586), while Vietnam will have Le Quang Liem (2542) and Nguyen Ahn Dung (2537). Singapore has its super GM Zhang Zhong (2634).

Our GMs Eugene Torre (2536), Joey Antonio (2532), Mark Paragua (2525), Nelson Mariano II (2447) and several other IMs are also expected to play.

A side event is the Fide arbiters seminar on Sept. 20-24 at the CICC concurrent with the Asian Individual Championship.

Fide Honorary President Florencio Campomanes will be the lead lecturer. Other lecturers are Fide Secretary General Ignatius Leong of Singapore, Fide Technical Commission Chairman Dr. Andrzej Filipowicz of Poland and ACF Deputy President Casto Abundo. Successful examinees shall be awarded the Fide Arbiter title.

CEPCA NEWS. The winners in the Kiddies and Juniors tournament for the month of August are Jessa Balbona, King James Torres and Shawn Patrick Osorno in the Juniors class and Jeroni Vinculado, Neil Adrian Gelig and the Balbona brothers, Felix Shaun, John Francis and Marq for the Kiddies event.

The September competition for regular members will be on Sept. 16, Sunday at the Deep Blue Café SM City, starting at 1 p.m.

Friday, August 31, 2007

World Championship 2007 and Cebu Asian GM

By Frank “Boy” Pestaña

READY for the two biggest events of the year? The World Championship will take place on Sept. 12 to 30 or 12 days from now in Mexico City and will feature eight of the top players in a double round robin format. Prize fund is US $1.3 million.

Here is a brief background of the participants and their latest tournament results. By the way this is a category 21
tournament, a rarity.

Viswanathan Anand is 38 years old from India and is presently rated numero uno with Elo 2792. He became World Junior champion in 1987 and was Fide 2000 champion in Tehran. He has dominated Wijk Aan Zee 5 times. This year, he captured Morelia-Linares and placed second in Melody Amber.

Vladimir Kramnik was born in Tuapse, Russia 32 years ago, and is the second highest rated player today with Elo 2769. In 2000, he overcame Garry Kasparov to become Classical World champion. He has collected Linares 3 times and this year garnered Melody Amber and Dortmund.

Alexander Morozevich, 30, was born in Moscow, Russia and is the 4th highest rated with Elo 2762. He has won both Biel and Melody Amber 3 times and was Russia champion in 2003. This year, he was 2nd in Morelia-Linares.

Peter Leko is from Hungary and will be 30 next week. His current rating is 2751. He tied with Kramnik for first in 2003 Linares and snared Wijk Aan Zee 2005. This year, he was world rapid champion at Odessa.

Levon Aronian is from Armenia and only 25. He is the envy among chess loverboys as the alleged boyfriend of Arianne Caoili, 20, a stunning Filipino-Australia-Dutch extraction, dubbed the Anna Kournikova of the chess world.

According to close observers “she is worth fighting for” referring to the scuffle between Aronian and GM Daniel Gomally over her at the Turin Olympiad in 2006! Levon`s Elo is 2750 and his credentials are impressive at his age. He was 2002 World Junior victor, 2005 Word Cup winner and first at 2006 Linares. He was supreme at Wijk Aan Zee this year.

Peter Svidler is the 3rd Russian finalist, 31 years old, and rated 2736. He is a four-time Russia champion. He collected Dortmund twice and tied for second at the 2005 World Championship in San Luis, Argentina with Anand. This year, he placed 4th in Melody Amber.

Boris Gelfand is, at 39, the oldest of the group and was originally from Belarus but transferred to Israel. His Elo stands at 2733. He was second at Linares in 1990 and won the Biel Interzonals in 1993. This year, he was second to Leko at the Odessa Rapid and 6th in Melody Amber.

Alexander Grischuk is the 4th Russian finalist and the youngest of the group at 23. He was a semi-finalist in the World Chess Championship at New Delhi 2000 and was second to Kasparov in the 2004 Russian Championship. This year, he placed 6th at the Tal Memorial. His Elo is 2726.

Anand, Morozevich and Svidler qualified due to their performance in the Fide World Championship 2005 in San Luis, Argentina and Kramnik by defeating Topalov in their Unification Match in Elista 2006. The other four players qualified in the Elista 2007Candidates Matches.

BIGGEST IN CEBU. 6th Asian Individual Chess Championship (Invitational) Cebu will host this city`s biggest tournament ever at the spanking Cebu International Convention Center from Sept. 18-30. This contest is a sparkling diamond that all Cebuano chess players should celebrate and patronize.

The competition is open to all Asian federations and the top 10 will qualify to the 2007 Fide World Cup. At stake is $40,000 in cash prizes.

More than 150 top players are expected although participation is limited to those with Elo 2300 and above.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Missing Grandmasters at the Pichay Open

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

MAinz Chess Classic is a monster event of superlative proportions.

It is annually held in Mainz ,Germany and is a weeklong event from Aug. 13 to 20.

It consists of several tournaments; the Ordix Open, a traditional rapid chess won by David Navara outclassing 761 players including 188 GMs; FiNET Open, a chess960 rapid won by Victor Bologan against 250 participants. There was a four-way contest between Aronian, Anand, Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot in the Mainz with Aronian winning the FiNet chess960 Rapid and Anand snatching the renkeleasing Rapid.

Other tournaments are the Mini-Ordix Open for children, which was captured by Constantin Gobel; Mini-FiNet Open–chess960 for children that was snared by Anna Endress. There was also a 40-board simul by Vassily Ivanchuk and the Rapid chess960 computer championship won by Deep Shredder.

Chess960 or Fischer Random is a variant wherein the major pieces are not in their original positions.

Ordix, FiNet and Grenkeleasing were the major sponsors of the whole event.

Other winners in the Ordix Open were GM Vlastimir Hort in the Senior category, WGM Marie Sebag for Women, GM Igor Lysyj for Juniors and GM Parimarjan Negi for the 14-Under.

The fourth Prospero Pichay Sr. Memorial Open Competition in Cantilan, Surigao concluded the other week and was dominated by Cebuanos.

IM Barlo Nadera of Mandaue took solo first with 8.5/9 to win a cool P100,000.

Tied for second to fourth were IM Richard Bitoon Of Cebu, NM Mirabeau Maga of Davao and IM Manny Senador of Iloilo. The other winners from fifth to 10th were Oliver Dimakiling, Ernesto Fernandez, Rolando Nolte, Jimmy Dano, Nouri Hamed and Ronald Bancod.

The contest was notable because of the absence of the heavyweights (GMs Torre, Antonio, Paragua, Mariano) despite the attractive cash prizes. We can only assume that our GMs went kakak as the contest was Fide-rated and will affect their Elo rating if they don’t perform well.

The World Youth Under-16 Olympiad was held in Singapore last Aug. 4 to 12 and the Philippines had an excellent performance by placing third among 34 countries. We handed India its only loss although it captured first with a better tiebreak.

Wesley So had the most incredible result in the event with a 9.5/10 score for a performance rating of 2736! Other members were Victor Ochoa, Pascua Haridas and Robert Grafil.

USC CHES. The University of San Carlos Chemical Engineering Society celebrated its Golden Anniversary last Aug. 3 to 5.

A luncheon, film showing and fellowship night was held on the first day with a cowboy motif. There were games and entertainment, while fireworks lit the sky at the Talamban campus.

There was bowling on the second day at the SM Bowling Center followed by a dinner at the Casino Español. The Society’s board of trustees were elected and recognitions were given to the members who played big parts in the group’s existence. The three-day affair ended at the private resort of Bobby Gandionco.

My classmate in college, Steve Parrado, came all the way from Georgia, US, to attend the celebration. We had dinner after the event at Marco Polo together with another classmate, Angel Yap, and our teacher in Physical Chemistry, Elsa Roska, who went on to become a dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture. Elsa is still a beauty to behold despite the years.

CEPCA NEWS. Mike Banebane won the August competition last Sunday at SM City. Mandy Baria, Jun Olis and Joe Atillo tied for second to fourth, while Nic Cuizon was fifth.

As Mike and Mandy already qualified to the grand finals in December, Jun Olis will be the representative for August.

The Kiddies monthly tournament will be this Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Deep Blue Café in SM City starting at 10 a.m.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Madonna vs. Julia Roberts and other matches

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

CHESS is the most popular pastime in the planet today with an estimated 600 million people—including a lot of lebrities—who play the game. Featured today are dream celebrity matches and my evaluation on who is the better player.

In Hollywood, the ideal match would be between the greatest entertainer of all time, Humprey Bogart and the most influential director of the 20th century, Stanley Kubrick. Both are rated about 2200.

Before he became famous, Bogart survived by hustling strangers at 50 cents per game in chess parlors at the New York Times Square. On the other hand, Kubrick’s lifelong obsession was chess and he supplemented his income by also hustling strangers in Washington Square Park and in various Manhattan Chess clubs. My assessment is that Bogart will be the victor by the tiniest of margins although George C. Scott will not agree as he has a minus score against Kubrick.

Among the ladies in Hollywood, nobody even comes close to the chess prowess of Julia Roberts and Madonna. A contest between the two would generate a lot of interest as both are good players.

In the Internet Chess Club, Madonna has played an incredible 19,000 plus games and the highest rating she achieved was 2003 in Feb. 16, 1999. She is being tutored by Scottish champion IM Alan Norris.

On the other hand, Roberts is a chess fanatic who has played over 10,000 games in the Internet. She attained a 2057 rating in July 22, 2002, her highest so far.

I think that someday they will really meet on the chessboard and the winner will probably be Madonna 5.5-4.5 in 10 games.

Among the singers, Bono (U2) and Sting would be a good match. Sting , whose real name is Gordon Sumner, is the lead singer and bass player of the band The Police. He wanted to be a grandmaster while still in his teens and once played Garry Kasparov on June 29, 2000 in New York in a simul together with the other band members.

Here’s a quote from 1987 where Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, talked about his interest in chess: “ One day I’d wake up and want to be a chess player—the best. I’d read a book on it, and at 12, I studied the grandmasters, and I was fascinated.” He was a regular tournament player at age 12.

In a contest, Sting would be a close winner in 10 games, 6-4.

Vladimir Klischko and Lennox Lewis have several things in common. They were both heavyweight boxing champions, are huge, and both hold doctorate degrees. They are also chess fanatics without any equal in the sports world.

Klischko has played friendly games with his best friend, World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and has also played blitz matches alongside Garry Kasparov.

Lewis was featured in the internet last May 23, 2006 and his sponsors offered $1,000 to anybody in the world who could trounce him in chess online.

Lewis has several times expressed his interest to play Vladimir and it would be very interesting indeed on who would prevail. Anyone of them can win a tournament in Cebu. Klischko should win 6-4 in a 10-game match.

I was thinking of originally pairing Roger Federer against Boris Becker, however, it would be a mismatch as Becker is clearly superior in chess .

But not against Ivan Lendl .

Lendl originally wanted to be a professional chess player as he was taught by his father, Jiri, who was Czech Junior chess champion.

Among the celebrities chosen to play Garry Kasparov was Becker which was aired “live” in CNN for one hour on March 15, 2000. Kasparov was in Manhattan while Becker was in Munich. Becker should prevail over Lendl, 6-4, in 10 games.

CEPCA NEWS. Our monthly competition will be this coming Sunday Aug. 19 at the Deep Blue Café in SM City starting 1 p.m.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Alien abduction of a Fide president

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

KIRSAN Ilyumzhinov has been the president of the World Chess Federation (Fide) from 1995 up to the present. He claims in 1997, that he was abducted by aliens and bought to a distant star aboard a space ship.

“They took me from my apartment and we went aboard their ship. We flew to some kind of star. They put a spacesuit on me, told me many things and showed me around. They wanted to demonstrate that UFO’s do exist.”

Chess can be deadly too. Here is a press release from the Boulder Daily last Aug. 16, 1994.

“A 37-year-old man had been arrested for murder charges when he allegedly shot a friend on his birthday after the two argued over a chess game.

Cox died of two gunshot wounds on the chest. Together with five of his friends, the victim was celebrating his birthday at his trailer at the Johnson Trailer Park, when he sat down for a game of chess with Wirth. Witnesses told police Wirth lost the game, knocked over the chessboard and began arguing with the victim.

The two men went outside, and Wirth went across the street to his home and returned with a gun. Witnesses said the argument resumed and the victim was shot.”

OTHER TALES. During the Buenos Aires Olympiad in 1978, a member of a Middle East chess team offered one of the girls working for the organizers $1 million to sleep with him. The offer was refused.

Bobby Fischer once withdrew from a tournament because a woman was playing in the event. She was Lisa Lane, who was then the US women’s champion.

Sand glasses were used as the first chess clocks.

Humphrey Bogart used to hustle strangers for 50 cents a game in chess parlors at the New York Times Square in the 1930’s, before he became the greatest entertainer of all time. He treated his friends according to their ability to play chess. His Elo rating has been estimated at 2200.

Blackburne was once arrested after authorities believed him to be a spy. He sent chess moves in the mail, which led authorities to believe that the moves were secret codes.

The leading British chess masters during World War II were hired as codebreakers by the British Intelligence.

In 1939, former US open champion Weaver Adams wrote a book entitled “White to Play and Win.” At his next tournament, he lost all of his games as White and won all his games as Black.

Paul Morphy was so famous a celebrity that he once wrote a chess column in a newspaper for a fantastic salary (in 1859) of $3,000 a year. This is equivalent to about $600,000 today.

When Napoleon died, he willed that his heart be cut out and placed inside a chess table.

The Philippines and Italy were the only two countries in 1976, to have competed at both Fide Chess Olympiad at Haifa, Israel and the “Against Chess Olympiad” that was held at Tripoli, Libya in the same year. Apparently, President Marcos wanted to maintain good relations with the US, which was backing Israel and the Arab countries.

Milton Ioannidis of Cyprus holds the unlucky record of the worst all-time playing results in the history of the Olympiads. In the 1962 and 1964 Olympiads, Ioannidis finished his disgraceful feat of no wins, no draws and 24 losses.

CEPCA NEWS. Last week, I wrote a special column about Gerry Tomakin, who recently passed away, and I also mentioned the other Cepca members who have died. My attention was called by some members as the list was incomplete. The other members who have left us are Butch Loyola, Ben Genon and Payling Alegado in addition to Gerry, Sonny Sollano, Migs Enriquez and Bobot Villaluna. My apologies.

The top three winners in the kiddies contest for the month of July are King James Torres, Marq Balbona and Felix Shaun Balbona.

The August monthly competition for regular members will be on Aug. 19 at the Deep Blue Café at SM City Cebu.

Friday, August 3, 2007

It’s the turn of the ladies

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

TWO major ladies’ tournaments have just concluded this week. The first was the Women’s MonRoi International Grand Prix finale held in Montreal from July 21 to 28 and the 5th North Urals Cup, which took place in Russia from July 22 to 31.

The MonRoi Grand Prix was a closed round robin tournament for women and featured the winners of seven competitions held this year, namely the Gib Telecom in Gibraltar from Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, the Cannes Open in France in Feb. 18-25 and Zagreb Open in Croatia on March 17-25. The other legs were the ECU Individual in Dresden, Germany on April 2-15, the Liechtenstein Open last May11-19, the EU Individual in Italy on June14-25 and the World Open in USA last June 28-July4.

GM Pia Cramling of Sweden took clear first with 5/7. Final round seven standings: 1.) Cramling (2533, 5.0) 2.) Jovanka Houska (England, 2401, 4.5) 3.) Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia, 2460, 4.5) 4.) Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (Georgia, 2418, 4.0) 5.) Iweta Rajlich (Poland, 2406, 4.0) 6.) Irina Krush (US, 2479, 3.0) 7.) Cristina Adela Foisor (Rome, 2372, 3.0) 8.) Myriam Roy (Canada, 1925, 0).

In addition to the cash prize, the winner of the Grand-Prix was awarded with a truly unique watch embellished with 16 sparkling diamonds.

According to its website, MonRoi’s mission is to create new products and services tailored for the chess community worldwide. The company designs and markets patented, innovative leading edge technology for real-time chess game broadcast.

This portable and wireless system was implemented on three continents in over 10,000 chess matches at the world championships, open and closed, as well as youth events. MonRoi also provides professional online services to tournament organizers.

The North Ural Cup was restricted to the top women players who have an Elo average of 2478. Zhu Chen, a Chinese, who now plays for Qatar after marrying Qatari GM Mohammed Al-Modiahki, won with 6/9 with a better tiebreak than another Chinese Zhao Xue. Chen was formerly the 11th World champion, who plays with a ponytail only when at the board.

In the 9th and final round, the big battle was between Xue and Katyrena Lahno. The Chinese won after a marathon 70 moves.

Chen also prevailed against ormer World champion Stefanova, who was definitely off-form, causing her to finish last.

Final Round 9 Standings: 1.) Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2522, 6.0) 2.) Zhao Xue (China, 2500, 6.0) 3.) Natalija Pogonina (Russia, 2429, 5.5), 4.) Kateryna Lahno (Ukraine, 2450, 5.0) 5.) Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia, 2456, 4.0) 6.) Anna Ushenina (Ukraine, 2502, 4.0) 7.) Hou Yifan (China, 2523, 4.0) 8.) Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany, 2457, 3.5) 9.) Alisa Galliamova (Russia, 2468, 3.5) 10.) Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria, 2481 3.5).

Meanwhile, here are two young ladies making waves in the chess world. One thing in common between them is that they are both very young and talented and anyone of them can become world champion.

Hou Yifan, who is only 13, was seeded first in the North Ural tournament. She had a disappointing performance as she scored only four points. However, that should not distract us from the fact that she is a chess phenomenon.

Between the April 2006 and July 2006 FIide rating lists, Hou gained an impressive 190 rating points from a rating of 2298 to a rating of 2488. She is currently China’s youngest ever women’s national champion and has an Elo of 2523 as of July 2007.

Koneru Humpy, 20 years old, now has an Elo rating of 2575 and experts are saying that she will reach the 2600 rating in due time. Only Judit Polgar is rated higher.

A true child prodigy, Humpy is the youngest woman player to achieve grandmaster (not just WGM) beating Judit’s record by three months. She was the 10-Under, 12-Under and 14-Under champion in the past and was the world junior champion in 2002.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Meet your Pinoy grandmasters

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

A CHESS grandmaster is as rare as a five-carat diamond. Out of the estimated 600 million players worldwide, only 946, at the latest count, are grandmasters. Five of them are Filipinos. Six if you consider the late Rosendo Balinas.

Eugene Torre has the distinction of being the first grandmaster from Asia, the world’s most populous region.

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He became GM in 1974 when he won the silver medal in board one, behind future champion Anatoly Karpov, in the Nice Olympiad, France. Bombi Aznar was the team manager or captain then.

Eugene has played in the Olympiad for 19 consecutive times and is on his way to beating the record of 20 appearances by Lajos Portisch of Hungary.

In 1982 he qualified for the prestigious candidates matches. Incidentally, he was our guest in 1990 and I played several games with him at the then Cebu Plaza.

Tall and good-looking, he was voted one of the 10 sexiest celebrities in the 70’s and even starred in a movie Basta Isipin mo Mahal Kita, opposite Vilma Santos, who was once romantically linked with him.

It is well known that Eugene is Bobby Fischer’s best friend and he was his second in the 1992 rematch against Spassky in Yugoslavia.

Although Rosendo Balinas Jr. died in 1998, no list can be complete without mentioning his achievements. He was a lawyer by profession and a journalist. In 1967 when Bobby Fischer visited Manila to play the country’s best 10 players in a series, only Balinas held the future World Champion to a draw.

He achieved his greatest victory at the Odessa International tournament in 1976, where he won with a score of 10/14 and was undefeated against all Russian opponents.

It was only the second time that a foreigner won on Russian soil. The last was 35 years before by Capablanca.

Back in the mid-80’s it was my habit to go to Luneta on Sundays and waste my money playing with the masters who congregate there. One of those I played with was a young lad whom I later knew as Rogelio “Joey” Antonio. I lost very badly even though he gave me odds of two pawns! Back then, most masters, even IMs, were wary of him although he was relatively unknown and untitled.

He has played many times in the Olympiad mostly on board 2 behind Torre. In Istanbul 2000, he scored 7/10 for a performance rating of 2682.He has a reputation of being one of the best-dressed player in the local and international circuit.

Another fixture in Luneta in the 80’s was a little boy of about 7 who, during weekends, came with his father or uncle and an elder sister.

He was already playing with the crocodiles there and his sister was holding her own. Nelson Mariano II is now a grandmaster and his sister, Christine Rose has become a five-time Ladies National Champion.

Nelson earned his third and final norm in the Asean Masters in Bangkok in 2004. He is also a many time Olympian, and his
three wins and 3 draws record in Bled, Slovenia in 2002 is considered his best performance.

Our fifth grandmaster, Bong Villamayor, is mostly inactive. According to him, he has semi-retired three times. He currently works as director of training, programs and development for Power Chess Asia based in Singapore. He became a GM in 2000.
He is also offering his services as coach/trainer for a fee through the internet.

Finally, Mark Paragua has the distinction of being the youngest National Master when he was nine years old and the youngest Filipino GM at 20.

At the 1998 Disney World Championship, he emerged champion in the 14 under division, beating current sensation Bu Xiangzi of China via tiebreak.

He qualified for the World Championship in Tripoli, Libya losing to Victor Bologan in 2004 in the first round. He also qualified for the World Cup 2005, where he upset GM Sergei Movsesian, whose rating was a high 2632 in the first round. He narrowly lost in the next round via tiebreak to an even stronger opponent Alexey Dreev, who is rated 2697.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Deuterium, Pichay and the RP eliminations

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

ONE of the most unique tournaments in Cebu was held last weekend at the Collonade Mall and the winner was the star of the show—the Deuterium computer.

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In the 7-round format, the computer won 6 games with one draw. This, I did not expect as there were a good number of strong players, who participated.

The program won over Ferdinand Carlos in the first round, struggled against Alleri Somosot in the second, saved a losing position versus NM Rogelio Enriquez in the third and upset the highly rated Kimkim Yap in the fourth.

It continued its winning run in the fifth by prevailing over Glenn Pardillo. The veteran Mario Mangubat was almost winning in the sixth round but the computer managed to save a draw. In the last round, Odillon Badilles, the son of the legendary Asing Badilles, failed to hold on to his position.

According to the computer designer and inventor, Ferdinand Mosca, the program is rated at 2200 Elo, which is the rating of most National Masters. I expected the highest rated player in the tournament, Fide master Anthony Makinano, to play the computer but the draw prevented it, as Makinano lost in the first round. I suggest that a one-on-one be held soon between Anthony and the computer. How about it Ferdinand?

Ferdinand, the sponsor of the tourney, is a mechanical engineer who works in Norway. He used to be a chess varsity player during his college days at Cebu Institute of Technology. He says that he owes to chess the discipline and perseverance that is needed to succeed working in a foreign land.

Here are the results of the seventh and final round in the top five boards: 1.) Deuterium-Badilles, 1-0, Ruy Lopez 2.) Makinano- Enriquez ,1-0, Nimzo Indian 3.) Yap-Voltaire Sevillano 0-1, Sicilian, 4.) Carlos Moreno III –Mangubat, 0-1, King‘s Indian, 5.) Irwin Ababat- Bonn Tibod ,0-1, Scilian.

Final Standings 1.) Deuterium (6.5) 2.) Makinano (6.0) 3.) Sevillano (6.0) 4.) Mangubat (5.5) 5.) Badilles (5.5) 6.) Leo Cortes (5.5) 7.) Tibod (5.5) 8.) Enriquez (5.0) 9.) Christopher Tobalado (5.0) 10.) Joel Pacuribot (5.0).

Pichay Memorial. The National Chess Federation of the Philippines will be sponsoring again the 4th Prospero Pichay Sr. Memorial Tournament at Cantilan, Surigao del Sur this coming Aug. 12-15. The format will be a nine-round Swiss with the registration fee pegged at P200. The tournament will be Fide rated.

I am expecting the exodus of top players to Surigao to fight for the P100,000 cash prize. Runners up will get P40,000 and P20,000 respectively.

Rep.Pichay may have lost his bid in the last senatorial elections, but he has won the hearts of countless chess players all over the country for his dynamic leadership.

RP Elims. Scheduled later this year is the Asian Indoor Games in Macau. The national federation is calling all interested players to join the eliminations on July 23-27.

It will be held at the Marketplace Shopping Center located along Kalentong Avenue in Mandaluyong City. The top nine male players and top 10 female players will qualify for the finals, together with the country’s five grandmasters.

The top four players in the men’s and women’s teams will then be sent to Macau for the games on Oct. 25 to Nov. 2.

Cepca News. Our monthly tournament will be this coming Sunday, July 22, at the Deep Blue Café in SM City starting at 1 p.m. Format will be a five-round Swiss with handicapping.

Another upcoming tournament is the Asian GM Competition in September. It will be hosted by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines in coordination with the province of Cebu. All Cepcans must be united to make this tournament a success as we all have roles to play.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Clinton, Gloria and the American presidents

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

BILL Clinton was a member of the Georgetown University chess team while studying there in 1966-68. He totally supported the Chess-in-School program during his administration and his favorite player is Garry Kasparov, who is his friend.

Clinton even has a recipe called the Lemon Chess Pie. Chelsea, his daughter, also plays chess in the internet.

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One of his classmates at Georgetown was a bright lady named Gloria Macapagal, whom I understand, also plays chess. This fact is based when she made the ceremonial moves during the 1st Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Cup with GM Alexander Onischuk in November of last year. Also, she grew up in Iligan, where chess is the number one sport. She also plans to introduce the Chess-in-School program in our country.

I featured a column not too long ago about chess-playing heads of states, which received favorable feedbacks and was extensively quoted in various chess blogs. I mentioned in that column that I was going to write about chess-playing American presidents.

Does Ronald Reagan play chess? The only clue I have to answer this is the very impressive and one of a kind chess set that was obviously made to order. It is displayed at the Ronald Reagan Library.

Another one of a kind chess set was given to John F. Kennedy on his birthday in 1962 by a long-time friend. It was magnificent. Nobody gives this kind of gift unless the recipient plays the game. It is entirely made of rare wood, alligator, ivory and ebony. The set is hand carved with an African motif. The details on both the board and the pieces are exquisite. There is a gold presidential three-inch seal and an engraved signature of the late president.

It is probably one of the rarest memorabilia of Kennedy. It was returned to the donor when he died. Kennedy’s son, the late John Jr., also played chess.

It seems that chess sets were the favorite gifts given to American presidents. These sets are now on display at the Smithsonian Institute. Dwight Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson received magnificent sets that truly befit Presidents.

The only clue that Gerald Ford may have played the game was when he declared Oct. 9 as national chess day.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, wanted to become a chess master when he left the White House. He bought chess books and a computer program to improve his game. He stopped playing serious chess in 1997 and admitted that he does not have the talent to further improve his game. Amy, his daughter, also plays chess.

Presidents who had the talent for the game and considered first rate players were Rutherford Hayes, who learned to play chess from his mother; James Garfield, whom an 1880 newspaper described as a superb player; and Thomas Jefferson, who played Benjamin Franklin, an equally strong player.

When Franklin was in Paris, he joined the Salon des echecs Chess Club and paid 96 francs in 1786.

Abraham Lincoln’s chess sets are on display at the Smithsonian. He also taught and gave a chess set to his son, Tad. Another collector of chess sets was John Quincy Adams, who once bought an ivory set that his political opponents accused him of using public funds for. This was not true, but it probably cost him the seat in the 1882 elections.

Theodore Roosevelt played chess during his hunting trips and could possibly have played with Ajeeb the automaton. He kept an astrological chart mounted on a chessboard while in office and often invited chess masters to the White House.

An indication that Ulysses Grant may have played chess is the collectible metallic Civil War chess set that portrays him opposite General Robert Lee, a renowned chess player.

Warren Harding, who died during his presidency in 1923, was an avid chess player and according to some, may have been poisoned by a chess championship contender.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Anand, Kramnik and the Deuterium

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

VISWANATHAN Anand of India retained his status as the best player for the second straight time, while world champion Vladimir Kramnik of Russia seemed to have a strong hold in Dortmund as he won for a record eight times.

Here are the top 10 players, including their Elo rating and age, in the planet as of the end June: 1.) Viswanathan Anand (2792, 38) 2.) Veselin Topalov (2769, 32) 3.) Vladimir Kramnik (2769, 32) 4.) Vassily Ivanchuk (2762, 38) 5.) Alexander Morozevich (2758, 30) 6.) Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2757, 22) 7.) Peter Leko (2751, 28) 8.) Levon Aronian (2750, 25) 9.) Teimour Radjabov (2746, 20) 10.) Dmitry Jakovenko (2735, 24).

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The big winner for the period is Ivanchuk, who gained 33 Elo points and is now just seven points behind Topalov and Kramnik.
Leko also gained 13 to place at seventh, while Aronian slid down to eight after losing nine. Also a big winner is Jakovenko, who gained 27 to place in the top 10.

As usual, the list is not complete without the women’s ranking: 1.) Judit Polgar (Hungary, 2707, 31) 2.) Kuneru Humpy (India, 2572, 20) 3.) Pia Cramling (Norway, 44) 4.) Hou Yifan (China, 2523, 13) 5.) Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2522, 23) 6.) Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia, 2515, 23) 7.) Tatiana Kosintseva (Russia, 2502, 21) 8.) Anna Ushenina (Ukraine, 2502, 28) 9.) Zhao Xue (China, 2500, 29) 10.) Maia Chiburdanidze (Georgiam, 2496, 46.)

The Sparkassen Chess meeting in Dortmund took place from June 23 to July 1 at the Civic Theatre and had eight participants with an average Elo of 2727, making the event a category 20 tournament. Dortmund is a major tournament in the chess calendar and only the top players are invited.

Final standings after seven rounds: 1.) Kramnik (5.0) 2.) Evegeny Alekseev, (Russia, 2679, 4.0) 3.) Leko (4.0) 4.) Anand (4.0) 5.) Mamedyarov (3.5) 6.) Magnus Carlsen (Norway, 2693, 3.0) 7.) Boris Gelfand (Israel, 2733, 2.5) 8.) Arkadij Naiditsch (Germany, 2654, 2.0).

The games were a disappointment as there were only seven losses in the whole tournament as most of the games were drawn. Kramnik accounted for the three wins, while Alekseev, Leko, Anand and Mamedyarov had a win each.

In the meantime, upcoming on July 14 and 15 at the Collonade Mall along Colon St. is a unique tournament sponsored by OFW engineer Ferdinand Mosca of Norway. He has designed a chess program which he calls Deuterium, becoming the first Filipino programmer to do so. Deuterium or “heavy water” is allegedly found only in the Surigao deep trench.

The 1st Deuterium Chess challenge is unique as the computer program designed by Mosca will be playing in the event. As a bonus, those who will play the computer will get P200 for a win, P100 for a draw and P50 for a loss. By the way, the program is not in the category of the Fritz and Junior series as its rating is only Elo 2200, beatable by strong players.

The first 20 students will get a 50 percent discount on the registration fee of P100, while national masters who join will receive an appearance fee of P500 and international masters P1,000.Total prize money is P15,000, a good figure by local standards.

Here is the inventor of Deuterium, “My full name is Ferdinand Mosca, 38, and my parents are from Surigao del Norte. I graduated with a BS Mechanical Engineering degree at the Cebu Institute of Technology on October of 1992. I was a chess varsity member.

I tried to get a national title before but it was simply too much for me. After graduation, I concentrated on my career. But I will never forget chess because it is one that helped me finished my studies, being a varsity member. But I know now the effect of my dedication in studying chess. I did not know that I was in the right path to self discipline. Imagine, studying chess openings and variations in the middle of the night.”

Ferdinand will fly in from Norway to oversee the whole event.