Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chess-savvy football players


THERE is no doubt that soccer is the most popular game in the world and the World Cup in Germany this June and July is the most awaited event of the year. With chess being popular, it is no surprising that there are well-known soccer players who also excel in chess.

Simen Agdestein. Called the Striker Grandmaster, he was, at one time, the world No.16 in chess, the first Norwegian GM and champion at 15, he shared the first place in the 1986 Juniors, ahead of Bareev, Piket and Anand. He was a member of Norway’s national soccer team, when Norway was still very good but stopped playing because of a torn knee.

He is in the limelight again as the trainer of chess wonder boy Magnus Carlsen, who recently qualified for the candidates’ matches.

He currently works at an academy in Norway, teaching chess and football.

GRAND OLD MAN. Vlastimil Jansa. He is a GM from Chechoslovakia, who was a national champion in 1964, 1974 and 1984. He was also a member of the national soccer team in the 1960s and the author of the popular book “Dynamics of Chess Strategy,” a book that explores the stages of play between the planning and early middle game.

He is the grand old man of Czech chess nowadays as Hort, Kavalek, Pachman, Filip and Smekjal are mostly inactive.

Bela Soos. Although his highest rating in the 1960s was only in the 2400s, he was considered a strong master and was also a national soccer player of Romania.

Charles Wreford Brown. He is credited for inventing the word soccer as an abbreviation for “association football.” He was a captain of the English football team in the 1890s and he also played cricket. He was a keen chess player, who took part in the 1933 British Open.

Osie Ardiles. He was a midfielder and a member of the Argentinian team that won the World Cup in 1978. A competitive and skilled player, he was a cult hero in England when he played for the Tottenham Hotspurs.

He was sent home to Argentina as a result of the Falkland War, thus missing most of the 1982-83 season.

He is more famous for his career in football management, being the manager of Blackburn Rovers, Swindon Town, Newcastle United, West Bromwich, Guadalajara (Mexico) and Racing Club in Argentina.
He is also responsible for the creating the “diamond formation,” the 4-4-2 style with left-sided and right-sided attacking and defensive midfielders. He is also a skilled chess player using his chess analytical skill in football.

RUELAN MEMORIAL. Eden Diano defeated Aller Somosot in the seventh and final round to snare first place with 6.5 points in this tournament held in memory of the late Marcelo “Loloy” Ruelan, a Cebu Sports Hall of Famer. The tournament was held last weekend at Tisoy’s Sports Restobar along A.S. Fortuna St. in Mandaue.

Second was C. Moreno with six points. Tied for third to eighth places were E. Alesna, C. Cabuenos, A. Salientes, N. Cuizon, F. Abugho and D. Arcilla, all with five points.

Sponsors of this yearly affair are Bombi Aznar, Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca), Mayor Rosemarie Suezo of Tuburan, Manuel Fernandez, Gal Gallarde and Ely Berciles.

CEPCA APRIL TOURNAMENT. This month’s tournament will also be held at Tisoy Sports Restaurant on Easter Sunday at 2 p.m. For the first time, this will be a blitz handicapping contest with time controls at five, eight and 15 minutes for class A,B and C, respectively. Format is seven-round Swiss System.

I am inviting all members to participate as the prizes have been increased and we will have a short meeting before the tournament. Also kindly update your yearly dues.

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