Friday, May 25, 2007

Topalov wins third straight M-Tel masters

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

AFTER being beaten black and blue with two losses and a draw in his first three games, Veselin Topalov dug deep into his bag of tricks to score three wins and four draws in his remaining games, including a last round win over erstwhile leader Krishnan Sasikiran to win the M-Tel masters for the third consecutive time.

Aside from the World Championship and the Olympiad, there are five “major” tournaments in the chess calendar. These are Wijk Aan Zee or Corus in Holland, Morelia/Linares in Mexico/Spain, Dortmund, Germany, Melody Amber in Monaco and the M-tel Masters in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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This tournament was played last May 5 to 20 and is unique in that no agreed draws were allowed. Draw offers can only be allowed through the chief arbiter in three cases: a triple repetition of the position, a perpetual check and a book draw.

The format used was double-round robin, meaning each player played the others twice—once with white and then black.

ROUND 10 RESULTS: Veselin Topalov—Krishnan Sasikiran (1-0, 59 Nimzo Indian); Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu—Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (1/2, 42 Sicilian Classical); Michael Adams—Gata Kamsky (1/2, 78 Ruy Lopez Closed)

FINAL STANDINGS: 1.) Topalov (Bulgaria, 2772, 5.5) 2.) Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, 2757, 5.0) 3. Nisipeanu (Romania, 2693, 5.0) 4.) Kamsky (US, 2705 5.0) 5.) Sasikiran (India, 2690, 5.0) 6. Adams (England, 2734 4.5).

Topalov was born on March 15, 1975 in Rousse, Bulgaria and is a former world champion. In the latest ratings, he is listed at No. 2 behind Viswanathan Anand of India with an Elo rating 2772.

His father taught him how to play chess at age eight. He won the World Under-14 Championship in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico in 1989, and won the silver in the World Under-16 in Singapore and became a grandmaster in 1992

His notable tournament victories are:Madrid 1994, 1996, 1997, Dos Hermanas 1996, Amsterdam 1996, Vienna 1996, Novgorod 1996, Antwerp 1997, Monaco 2001, Dortmund 2001, M-tel Masters 2005 (a point ahead of Anand), Fide World Chess Championship 2005 (a point and a half ahead of Anand and Svidler),Corus 2006 (joint first with Anand), M-tel Masters 2006 (half a point ahead of Gata Kamsky), Corus 2007 (joint first with Aronian and Radjabov). He was also a semifinalist at the Fide World Chess Championship 2004 in Tripoli, Libya and shared first place with Kasparov (Kasparov technically won on tiebreaks though Topalov won their individual game) at Linares 2005

The unification match against classical champion Vladimir Kramnik, which he lost, in Kalmykia, Russia last year was very controversial and is now known as “toilet-gate.” Topalov’s camp accused Kramnik of cheating by going to the bathroom as many as 50 times during a single game and that Kramnik made the most significant decisions in the game while in the bathroom.

After the Appeals Committee decided that they must share a single bathroom, Kramnik refused to play the next game and lost on forfeit.

After the arguments settled down, the Appeals Committee was replaced and Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov took over and upheld the forfeit loss,

However the crisis escalated as Topalov‘s manager, Silvio Danailov, implied that Kramnik was receiving computer assistance .

The match was tied after the required 12 games but Kramnik prevailed in the tiebreak games to win the unification match.

In December last year, Topalov accused Kramnik of using computer assistance in their World Championship match and this was followed by Danailov in February this year, showing purported pictures of cables in Kramnik‘s bathroom.

My personal opinion is that there was no cheating on Kramnik’s part.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Anand: The greatest sportsman from India

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

SIMPLY put, Viswanathan Anand is the greatest sportsman India has ever produced.

He won the Fide world championship in 2000 and is now the highest rated player with an Elo of 2786 though his peak rating was 2803 in April 2006. He is only the fourth player to breach the 2800 mark, the others being Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov.

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He won the Oscar, the most prestigious award in chess, four times in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004. Since its inception in 1970, he is the sixth and the only non-white to head the rating list. The others are Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik and Topalov.

He first came to my attention in 1987 when the World Juniors Championship was held in Manila. It was a significant event at that time as one of the favorites was Cebuano Enrico “Econg” Sevillano, a protégée of NM Bombi Aznar. Also participating, if I recall correctly, was Vassily Ivanchuk, who belongs to the list of elite players now.

However, the talk among chess players then was Anand, who already had a big following in Manila as he was a resident there for quite sometime. Even before, he was already known as a fast player and has proven it time and again, that is why he is known as the “lightning kid”. Anand won this tournament though Econg was also seen as a rising star and seemed on his way to becoming a world-class player.

Anand was a former Fide World Champion when he defeated Alexei Shirov in Teheran in 2000, 3.5-0.5. He was also the World Rapid Champion in 2003. He won the title ahead of 12 other players in the world, beating Kramnik in the final.

Anand’s trademark is that he is a very fast player. It is common for him to finish his match in 10-20 minutes when the first time control is two hours. In Rapid control, where the format is 25 minutes plus 10-second increment, he has dominated most tournaments he has entered: Corsica (six years in a row, 1999-2005), Mainz (seven years in a row, 2000-2006), Leon (2005), Eurotel (2002). He also won Melody Amber five times and the rapid portion seven times.

In Melody Amber 2007, he did not lose a match in the rapid section, scoring 8.5/11 for a performance rating of 2939.

Among the awards he has received are: Arjuna award for Outstanding Indian Sportsman in Chess in 1985. Padma Shri, National Citizens Award and Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1987. The inaugural Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sporting honour in 1991 and 1992. British Chess Federation ‘s “Book of the Year” Award in 1998 for his book My Best Games of Chess. Padma Bhushan in 2000. Jameo de Oro, the highest honor given by the Government of Lanzarote in Spain, on April 25, 2001. This award is given only to illustrious personalities with extra ordinary achievements.

Chess Oscar (1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004).

I would say that his greatest victory was the 2007 Morelia/Linares Super Grandmaster tournament when he took an early lead and hung on to it, to not only win, but also to take the No.1 Fide ranking for the first time.

CEPCA NEWS. The Winners in our monthly tournament last Sunday at Stella Maris were: Maggie Dionson followed by Miguel Banabane and Cepca president Mat Matuco for the seniors. Juniors champion was Cy Balbanera and Kiddies champion was Marq Balbona.

The internment of Tito “Bobot” S. Villaluna will be tomorrow in Bacolod City.

Bobot was the 10th president of Cepca (2002-03) and was known for being soft-spoken and was a good organizer. He is the third member to have passed away, the first being lawyer-radio broadcaster Migs Enriquez and my co-founder of the club, the man-of-all-seasons, Sonny Sollano. (

Friday, May 11, 2007

Aronian swamps Kramnik, 4-2

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

FOR the first time in his career, world champion Vladimir Kramnik has lost a one-on-one match, against the young grandmaster from Armenia, Levon Aronian. To recall, Kramnik has defeated Kasparov, Leko and lately Veselin Topalov and has held his ground against computer programs.

“Levon is in good form. He played confidently. He was fresher and acted more precisely in decisive games. Levon is known for his ability to play very fast,” Kramnik was quoted after the match.

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Kramnik further said his just concluded win over Peter Leko in Miskolc, Hungary was tough and he was tired for this match.

“Even though I have won three active chess matches, I have not shown my best qualities this time,” Kramnik said. This was the eighth time they played against each other and the first time that Aronian won.

Here are the scores:

The MTel Masters is one of the “major” tournaments in the chess calendar and has just started in Sofia, Bulgaria and will conclude on May 20. The field for the 10-round, double-round robin event is composed of Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria, 2772), Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu (Romania, 2693), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, 2757) , Gata Kamsky (US, 2705), Michael Adams (England, 2734) and Krishnan Sasikiran (India, 2690).

According to, one rule in place at this tournament says: “The players should not talk during the games; additionally they should not offer draws directly to their opponents. Draw offers will be allowed only through the Chief Arbiter in three cases: a triple-repetition of the position, a perpetual check and in theoretically drawn positions. The Chief-Arbiter is the only authority who can acknowledge the final result of the game in these cases.

He will be advised in his decisions throughout the tournament by GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Fide vice president.” In short: You are not allowed to offer or accept draws and must play on until the game is technically over. The arbiter will see to it that you do so.

SCRABBLE. Teodoro Martus Jr., of the University of the Visayas (UV) followed up his Last Leg Candidates Match win with another impressive performance in local grounds last Sunday to rule the first Cebu Rated Scrabble tournament with a 7-2 win-loss card and a +731 net spread.

Hosted by the UV Green Wizards, the one-day nine-round tourney used the straight King-of-the-Hill format.

In second place was Reynante dela Cerna with six wins and a +439 net spread, while Joel Toroy, also with 6 wins but with an inferior net spread of +132, salvaged the third spot.

The rest of the top seven are Ursie Aparre (5W, +226), Gerson Anticamura (5W -14) and Michael Laput.

CEPCA NEWS. The May tournament of the club will be on the 13th at Stella Maris together with the Kiddies and the Juniors event at 1 p.m.

I was just informed of the sad news yesterday that the 10th president of the club (2002-03), Tito S. Villaluna, passed away after a long and lingering illness. He will be missed by all of us and we would like to express our condolence to his wife, Mayen, and children.

He is now resting at Rolling Hills in Bacolod City.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Kramnik beats Leko; Aronian next

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

THE eight-game rapid match (25 minutes per player plus 10 seconds increment) between the current world champion, Vladimir Kramnik and Hungary’s top player, Peter Leko, has just concluded in Miskolc, Hungary and the champion won by a score of 4.5—3.5.

Time and again, Kramnik, who was born on June 25, 1975 and is the current world champion, has proven that he is one of the best players to ever play the game, excelling in traditional match play, blitz and blindfold games.

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He is renowned as an extremely solid player in all levels of the game and a tough opponent under any circumstances.

He has won at Corus, Linares, Dortmund and Monaco in addition to winning the gold medal for Russia in several Olympiads including top board play.

By winning over Veselin Topalov in 2006 he consolidated the title thus uniting the chess world under one undisputed champion.

Peter Leko was born in Subotica, Serbia but plays for Hungary. His latest ranking is number 8 in the world with an Elo rating of 2,738.

He has won Linares, Dortmund and Wijk Aan Zee and his style of play is very solid and very difficult to beat, much like the young Karpov, whom he outplayed in this same city last year.

To recall, this is the third time that the players have gone heads-on and everybody were expecting a close game.

The first duel was played in January 2001, which Kramnik won by a tight 7-5 score.

In 2004, the two dueled again for the world championship and Kramnik snatched a victory from certain defeat with a win in the last game of their 14-game match to tie the score at 7-7.

According to the rules, Kramnik retains his title if the match is drawn. Here is the round by round result:

Game 2: Leko—Kramnik, draw (51 moves Ruy Lopez Closed)

Game 3: Kramnik—Leko, 1-0 (44 moves Queens Indian)

Game 4: Leko—Kramnik, draw (52 moves Ruy Lopez Closed)

Game 5: Kramnik—Leko, 1-0 (57 moves English Symmetrical)

Game 6: Leko—Kramnik, 1-0 (49 moves Ruy Lopez Centre Attack)

Game 7: Kramnik—Leko, draw (30 moves Anti-Meran Gambit)

Game 8: Leko—Kramnik, draw (30 moves Ruy Lopez Anderssen)

Miskolc is the third biggest city in Hungary and has a tradition of featuring their top player and favorite son, Leko, against highly rated players, in 2005 versus Michael Adams and Anatoly Karpov in 2006.

KRAMNIK V. ARONIAN. Next to play the world champion in another eight-game rapid match is World Cup champion Levon Aronian in Yerevan, Armenia starting today.

Aronian was born on October 6, 1982 and is currently ranked fifth in the world with an Elo rating of 2759. He has proven to be a worthy opponent of Kramnik by winning the category 20 Linares/Morelia 2006 super-GM tournament.

One of his memorable achievement was winning the Gold medal for Armenia at the 2006 Turin Olympiad over tournament favorite Russia, holding his own against the world’s best on board one.

His games are unconventional and exciting and he is not afraid of complications.

He was the champion in the Under-12 division in 1994 and in the Under-20 in 2002 so he is used to playing top level chess.

Other major accomplishments most memorable achievements must be his role in helping lead his Armenian compatriots to a deserved gold medal at the Turin Olympiad in 2006 where he anchored the Armenian team on board one.

Despite the fact that he is relatively new to the elite stage, the young grandmaster is a two-time World Junior Champion (Under-12 in 1994 and Under-20 in 2002) and maintains a light and positive attitude under all circumstances.