Friday, February 23, 2007

World Champions and their love lives

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

VALENTINES day has its origin in ancient Rome when the Emperor Claudius forbade marriages for young men believing that married men do not make good soldiers. A priest named Valentine, however, performed secret marriages for young catholic men.

The story continues that the emperor found out about this and Valentine was arrested and thrown into prison. However, Valentine wanted to convert Claudius to Catholicism and this enrage the emperor who sentenced him to death.

Morelia/Linares 2007 has a notable absentee—World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. At first I was rather surprised that he was not invited to play but the reason, I think, is that he is on a honeymoon. He just got married to a journalist for Le Figaro, a beautiful girl named Marie Laure. By the way, Kramnik is probably the handsomest world champion and the tallest!

Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900) in contrast was extremely ugly and contributed to chess what Newton did to physics: he made it a true science. However, he was not a lucky man. Later in life his wife committed him to a mental asylum and soon afterwards died a penniless and destitute man.

Emmanuel Lasker (1868-1941) who defeated Steinitz was not only one of the greatest players of all time but also had a doctorate degree in math and was respected as a scientist and philosopher. He married Martha Kohn and they stayed together until her death in 1939. He was a good friend of Albert Einstein who reproached him for wasting his time on chess.

Jose Raoul Capablanca (1888-1942), whom bobby Fischer considers the best ever, was divorced from his first wife whose influential family had him demoted to commercial attaché from ambassador at large. There is a story told that his second wife was such a stunning beauty that when she enters the tournament hall all the players would watch her. Capablanca, unknown to many, studied chemical engineering at Columbia University.

Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) is a legend whose combinational play is second to none. He was married four times to women much older than him. He wrote a thesis on the Chinese prison system while in law school becoming Dr. Alekhine.

Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995) also had a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering and was world champion three times.He was married to an artist-a Bolshoi Ballet lead dancer.

Mikhail Tal (1936-92) became ,at 20 ,the youngest world champion and known for his ferocious attacking play. Sally Landau said of her husband that he was a romantic man. “He was a gentleman and would avoid any quarrel with me.”

Tigran Petrosian (1929-84) was also known as “iron” because of his impenetrable defense and safety above all else style of play .Rona Yakovlevna was not only a wife and life companion but also a person who played a great role in Petrosian`s life.
Tigran realized and valued it. When he lost to Bobby fischer ,his wife blamed his trainer.

Boris Spassky is known as the opponent of Bobby Fischer in the “Match of the Century” and a gentleman on and off the board. His 3rd wife, Marina, has been taking care of him since he had a stroke last year.

Anatoly Karpov has the most tournament wins of all time, winning 161 1st place finishes.His second wife, Natasha, was a former librarian and very supportive of her husband during his match in Baguio against Korchnoi and his marathon games versus Kasparov.

Garry Kasparov is the longest reigning champion in history and considered, with apologies to Bobby Fischer`s fans, as the greatest player of all time. He has been divorced from 1st wife Masha and allegedly divorcing second wife Julia.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Morelia-Linares: a test of strength

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IT is generally accepted that the winner of the Morelia-Linares tournament is the unofficial champion of the year. It is usually played in February with the first half in Morelia, Mexico and the second half in Linares, Spain.

This year’s edition will start Feb. 17-25 in Morelia and the concluding half in Linares on March 2-10. It is sometimes described as the Wimbledon of chess and is one of the strongest tournaments of the year, together with Wijk Aan Zee, which was held last month, the M-Tel Masters in Sofia, and the Dortmund Invitational in Germany.

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In 1998, Linares was changed from a single round-robin tournament to a seven player double round robin event (meaning that each participant plays every other participant twice, once with each color).

Luis Rentero, the sponsor of the tournament, is notorious for being a strong opponent of short draws in chess, to the point that in 1991 he offered cash bonuses for playing longer games.

Previous winners of the tournament are 2000 Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov, 2001 Garry Kasparov, 2002 Garry Kasparov, 2003 Péter Lékó (joint winner with Vladimir Kramnik; but had a better tiebreak score), 2004 Vladimir Kramnik, 2005 Garry Kasparov (with the same score as Veselin Topalov; won on tiebreak because of more wins with black) and 2006 Levon Aronian .

The participants for this year’s edition are Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Leko, Peter Svidler, Levon Aronian, Teimour Radjabov, Magnus Carlsen and Alexander Morozevich. No explanation is given why World Champion Vladimir Kramnik was not invited.

Veselin Topalov, 31, is a Bulgarian grandmaster and former World Champion and currently World no. 1. He won the 2005 Chess Oscar and had the second highest Elo rating of all time at 2813. He played Classical Champion Kramnik in a unification match just recently and the score was tied after 12 rounds. He lost in the tiebreak games. His current rating is 2783.

Viswanathan Anand, 37, is from India and also a former Fide champion. In the latest Fide Ratings, his Elo is 2779, just 4 points behind the no. 1 Topalov. Anand is one of only four players in history to break the 2800 mark on the Fide rating list and he has been among the top three ranked players in classical time control chess in the world continuously since 1997.

Peter Leko, 27, is a Yugoslav, although born in Hungary. His latest rating is 2749, making him no. 6 in the world. He is an extremely solid player and very difficult to defeat.

Peter Svidler is a Russian grandmaster with an Elo Rating of 2728, making him no. 12 in the world. He is a four-time Russian Champion—1994, 1995, 1997 and 2003.

Levon Aronian is from Armenia and is no. 7 in the world with a rating of 2744. An early sign of his playing ability is shown by winning the world under 12 championship in 1994 and the world Juniors in 2002. He won the Morelia/Linares chess tournament last year.

Magnus Carlsen is only 15 years old and considered by almost everybody to be a potential world champion. His major wins were at Wijk Aan Zee in 2004, C group, at the age of 13, and group B a year later at 14.

Alexander Morozevich is currently no.8 in the world with an Elo rating of 2741. In December 2006 he won the Ciudad de Pamplona with an amazing performance rating of 2951.

Cepca news. The February tournament of the club will be this Sunday at Bibo`s starting at 1p.m. There will be two sections class A and class B/C. Format is 5 rounds Swiss with handicaps.

Sponsor of the tournament is Prime Parts fabricators and Sales Inc. in Talisay City.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Campo: The Grand Old Man of Chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IT has been reported all over the chess world and major newspapers that Florencio Basa Campomanes, also known as, “Campo,” the honorary president of Fide, has met a major car accident in Istanbul ,Turkey last Feb. 2 and that he underwent a 7 1/2 hour operation as he suffered multiple fractures to the bones in his legs, hands and neck.

Apparently, he was in Antalya, Turkey to attend the presidential board meeting and was on the way to the airport when his car overturned and plunged over the side of the road. It seemed that the driver, who escaped without a major injury, lost control when an animal suddenly crossed the road.

As I write this article, Campo is now out of danger and even challenged the hospital staff to play chess.

The last time I met Campo was during the holidays when he visited me at Handuraw Café in Mabolo to inform me that he was transferring to Baguio from Cebu where he resided for sometime at the Cebu Business Park. He gave me some pointers on how to take care of my health (at 80, he seemed fit and his handshake was still firm) and wished our chess club and “Chessmoso” the best of luck.

Early in the 70s while I was still working with an oil company, a few chess players and I visited him on his TV show in Manila and one of his come-ons was to present a chess problem and ask his guests to solve it. He would give as prize a kamagong chess set, which incidentally I won.

Prior to the Chess Olympiad in Manila in 1992, the Cebu Chess Federation organized a Grandmasters tournament at the then Magellan Hotel with the assistance of Campo that turned out to be the most prestigious chess event so far in Cebu. During the tournament, we would play poker at the hotel in the evenings.

Campo just recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association for his involvement and contributions to the development of chess for more than half a century.

He was born on Feb. 22 in Manila and had excellent academic credentials. He graduated cum laude, from the University of the Philippines in 1948 with a BA degree, was a Fullbright scholar, and finished MA at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island in 1951. He pursued Doctoral studies in Georgetown University, Washington DC from 1949-1952.

He was a lecturer in political science in UP from 1954-56, chess columnist of the Manila Times from 1954-61, and TV producer-host of Channel 4 from 1973-1952.

Aside from being an excellent organizer, he was a passable chess player, being National Champion in 1956 and 1960, and played in several Olympiads, namely Moscow 1956, Munich 1958, Leipzeg 1960, Varna 1962, and Havana 1966.

He started to get involved in Fide when he became permanent delegate in 1956, Asian Zone president in 1960-64, Deputy President for Asia from 1974- 82 and finally Fide President in 1982 and reelected for two more four-year terms. He is now Fide honorary president since 1996.

Under his term, Olympiads were held in Greece, Dubai, Novi Sad, and Moscow and finally in Manila in 1992, aside from six Men’s World Championships.

The World Championship between Karpov and Korchnoi was held in Baguio in 1978. The Interzonals in 1976 and 1989 and World Juniors Champioships in 1974 and 1987 were also held in Manila.

Finally, he raised Fide membership by about 50 plus federations.

Cepca news. The February edition of our club`s Kiddies and Junior tournaments was held at Bibo`s last Sunday and the Kiddies winners were champion-Godrey Villamor, 2nd-Marie Cecille Lumapac,3rd-Kyle Sevillano, 4th-Jan Tilos and 5th-Patrick Osorno.

In the Juniors Division the champion was Yves Fiel, 2nd-Yuri Cauba and 3rd-Christian Lumapac.

It was a thematic tournament with the following moves per round . 1st-Reti, Nf3-Nf6; 2nd-Queen`s pawn ,d4-d5 3rd- Caro kahn, e4-c6 4th-English,c4-e5 5th-Alekhine, e4-Nf6 6th- modern. E4-g6 and 7th-Rat`s, d3-d5.

Friday, February 2, 2007

National Chess Federation of the Philippines

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) is the governing body of chess in the country and is in turn affiliated with the World Chess Federation(fide).

It was born amid much sound and fury in 2000 with a lot of pride lost and prestige broken when it replaced the Philippine Chess Federation in representing the country in the 34th Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.

The highlights of the federation and a brief history of chess in the country are listed as well as its present officers in its website

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* 1947 - 1st National Championship won by Horacio Tagle.
* 1956 - Philippine Chess Federation recognized by Fide
* 1957 - Rodolfo Tan Cardoso awarded International Master - the first in Asia. Cardoso became World Junior Champion
* 1966-1970 - Florencio Campomanes elected Zone President
* 1974 - 1982 - Campomanes appointed Fide Deputy President for Asia
* 1974 - Eugene Torre at 22years old became Asia's first Grandmaster (GM)
* 1976 - IM Rosendo Balinas, Jr. won in USSR, the 1st foreigner to do so and becomes GM
* 1978 - World Championship Match bet Karpov and Korchnoi in Baguio City
* 1981 - Asean Games held in Manila
* 1982 - Florencio Campomanes elected Fide President
* 1992 - Chess Olympiad held in Manila (Organized by Florencio Campomanes)
* Aug 27, 2000 - National Chess Federation of the Philippines was recognized by Fide
* 2004 - IM Mark Paragua became the 6th and youngest Filipino GM (at age 20)
* 2005 - 24th Asean Games in Manila
* 2005 - 3rd Asean Paragames in Manila
* 2006 - 1st President Arroyo International Open

Its officers are headed by Hon. Matias Defensor as chairman and Hon. Prospero Pichay as president. Management of the Federation is handled by Willie A. Abalos. Its motto is “Make the right move, play chess.”

From all indications, we might have the best president the federation ever had. Rep. Pichay is a dynamic president and if ever he will run for senator he can surely count on chess players all over the archipelago to support him.

Wijk Aan Zee. Aronian, Topalov and Radjabov are co-winners in the biggest tournament of the year, while World champion Vladimir Kramnik was only half a point behind with a win over Loek Van Wely in the last round. Anand could only manage 7.5 pts as he lost to both Kramnik and Topalov.

Aronian and Kramnik never lost a game, while Topalov went down against Peter Svidler in the 11th despite being initially ahead in position.

Here are the final standings in group A after 13 rounds: 1. Aronian, Levon g ARM 2744 8.5; 2. Topalov, Veselin g BUL 2783 8.5; 3. Radjabov, Teimour g AZE 2729 8.5; 4. Kramnik, Vladimir g RUS 2766 8.0; 5. Anand, Viswanathan g IND 2779 7.5; 6. Svidler, Peter g RUS 2728 7.0; 7. Navara, David g CZE 2719 6.5; 8. Karjakin, Sergey g UKR 2678 6.5; 9. Ponomariov, Ruslan g UKR 2723 6.0; 10. Motylev, Alexander g RUS 2647 5.0; 11. Tiviakov, Sergei g NED 2667 5.0; 12. Van Wely, Loek g NED 2683 5.0; 13. Carlsen, Magnus g NOR 2690 4.5; 14. Shirov, Alexei g ESP 2715 4.5.

Group B winner was Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine and group C was snared by Michal Krasenkow of Poland. Both sections were also 14-players group and round robin formats.

Cepca news. Tony Cabibil dominated the Class A January tournament at Bibo`s last Tuesday and 2nd placer was Allan Salientes. In group B and C Percival Fiel won via tiebreak over Nick Cuizon as 3rd, while 5th went to Mat Matuco, Mandy Baria and Maggi Dionson, respectively.