Friday, March 23, 2007

Blindfold play and Melody Amber

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE Café de la Regence in Paris was the favorite playing ground of chess players from all over Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. On one table was a brass plaque saying “Napoleon Bonaparte used to play at this table.”

Melody Amber is a one-of-a-kind tournament in the chess calendar. It is usually played during March at the fabulous Fairmont Hotel in Monaco.

Pinoy Votes: Sun.Star Election 2007

Only the world’s top players are invited by its sponsor Dutch billionaire and champion of postal chess Joop von Oosterom. It is named after his daughter Melody Amber that started in 1992. Total prize fund for this year is $288,000 and the players are treated like Royalty.

Format is blind chess and rapid play. In each round, players play both rapid and blindfold chess against the same opponent.

For the uninitiated, one would think that blind chess is difficult. For grandmasters it is a piece of cake and my personal observation is that anybody interested enough can play blind chess if practiced constantly with the proper technique.

Significant and mind boggling simul blind chess exhibitions in the past have been done by Morphy, Pillsbury, Alekhine, Flesch, Reti and Koltanowski. The most impressive is the 47 boards feat by the legendary Miguel Najdorf with the result of 39 wins, 5 draws and 3 losses.

Blindfold chess is useful in increasing one’s playing strength but is deemed a health hazard if carried to extremes. The mental problems of Morphy and Pillsbury were due to, they say, too many bindfold simul chess exhibitions.

In Monte Carlo, the players play with computer laptops far from the blindfold play of yesteryears where play was full of drama as the players had their backs opposite the board or with a scarf covering their eyes.

After 4 rounds, Kramnik leads the pack with a combined score of 6.5 points followed by Aronian half a point behind. Tournament favorite Anand could only manage 4 points.


1. Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 2766 4.0 2. Svidler, Peter RUS 2728 3.0 3. Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR 2750 3.0 4. Gelfand, Boris ISR 2733 2.5 5. Aronian, Levon ARM 2744 2.5 6. Leko, Peter HUN 2749 2.0 7. Morozevich, Alexander RUS 2741 1.5 8. Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2729 1.5 9. Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2690 1.0 10. Anand, Viswanathan IND 2779 1.0 11. Van Wely, Loek NED 2683 1.0 12. Vallejo Pons, Francisco ESP 2679 1.0.


1. Aronian, Levon ARM 2744 3.5 2. Anand, Viswanathan IND 2779 3.0 3. Morozevich, Alexander RUS 2741 2.5 4. Kramnik, Vladimir RUS 2766 2.5 5. Ivanchuk, Vassily UKR 2750 2.5 6. Carlsen, Magnus NOR 2690 2.0 7. Leko, Peter HUN 2749 2.0 8. Svidler, Peter RUS 2728 2.0 9. Gelfand, Boris ISR 2733 1.5 10. Vallejo Pons, Francisco ESP 2679 1.0 11. Van Wely, Loek NED 2683 1.0 12. Radjabov, Teimour AZE 2729 0.5.

Cepca news. The club’s monthly tournament for March has just concluded and the winners are: 1st, William Retanal; 2nd, Maggi Dionson; and tied for 3rd to 5th are Jade Garzon, Mandy Baria and Nick Cuizon.
We have a new member, Alain Montenegro, an electrical and communication engineer.

Itaas memorial. Come and play at The 3rd Coleto Itaas memorial tournament to be contested this weekend March 24 and 25 at the Bibo Chess Club starting at 1pm. Format is a 7 round Swiss and the top 8 players will play a two-game knockout match to determine the champion.

Total prize money of this tourney is P8,000. Registration fee is P100 with a defaulting fee of P50.

Einstein Puzzle. Dr. Arthur Padilla, a US-based anesthesiologist in Iowa, follows my column regularly in the Internet and together with his sister, Imelda, are fond of logic puzzles. He got the correct answer to Einstein`s puzzle although this acknowledgement is delayed due to lack of space in my previous column.

Imelda, a Summa graduate of the University of San Carlos, is based in Alabama where she is chief financial officer of a window company.

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