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.

No comments: