Friday, June 29, 2007

The lady, the Canadian and the Viking

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

A LADY member? So what’s the fuzz all about? A lady chess player is not something extraordinary. There are probably hundreds of professional women out there who play chess.

However, in all my years of involvement in the game, I have observed that women are very shy and are afraid to compete against men. The Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) was established in June 1990 and there has never been a lady member. That is 17 long years! And to think that we had a peak of more than 130 members in the early 90s.

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View here the list of local winners

True, we have women who sometimes play in our tournaments, but they only play as invited guests. Noteworthy among the lot was Therese Gonzales, who was able to win a monthly title, not with her charms, which she has plenty of, but with her true chess talent.

This brave young lady is 29-year-old Marylou Pagarigan, who is presently connected with Cebu International School as a teacher in computer science and information technology. She learned to play the game when she was six years old and has been quite active in competing in big tournaments.

She was the best female player in the Cagayan leg of the Shell Active Chess Championship in 1996 and competed in the Palarong Pambansa games in Cebu (1994), Pangasinan (1995, board 2 champion), Socsargen (1996), Naga (1997) and in Bacolod (1998).

She also joined the Philippine National Women’s Championship in Iligan City in 1995, the National LGUlympics in Iloilo in 1998 and the Far East Bank’s regional tournaments from 1995-97 in Iligan City.

She joined our monthly tournament last Sunday, when she won over another new member, Harry Doyle and drew with Surigao’s Manie Yuson, another potential new member, who played as a guest for the meantime. Yuson had expressed her intention to upgrade to full member soon.

Doyle is a Canadian, who obviously enjoyed the exercise and who has a lively sense of humor. He wrote in the information sheet, “My name is Harry Doyle and I lived in the East Coast of Canada on the Atlantic Ocean. The big cities of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver produce our best players. In 2000, I suffered a stroke and was advised by my doctor from the Philippines to play an hour of chess everyday. Seven years later, all the symptoms of the stroke are gone. My chess, however, has not improved much, but I do have fun. I am happily married to a Filipina who gave me a beautiful son, Joseph, who is now seven.”

Another new member is a Viking from Demark, Per Stentejerg-Hansen. Hansen is the strongest foreigner to ever become a member of Cepca. He has an Elo rating of 2240 and that should make him a National Master. Not surprisingly, he won the tournament, the first foreigner to do so.

Hansen defeated the great Bent Larsen in 1996 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Larsen was obviously on the decline as he was one of the best players in the 1960’s and ’70s and was once called the strongest player never to become a world champion. To beat the great Larsen, who visited Cebu I think in 1973, is certainly a great achievement.

Hansen is married to Crispina Limpot from Baclayon, Bohol since 1994 and they have two daughters aged nine and 11 years old. He is an accountant by profession.

He wrote, “Chess helps me find new friends. It is a game about fight and strict analysis and it is nice to relax with.”

Another new member is Randy Cabuncal, 27, who is connected with Fast Logistics Corporation. Cabuncal was a board one varsity player of the University of San Carlos Boys High School.

Here are the results of last Sunday’s June tournament at five rounds; first placer, Hansen (4.5), second and third placers, Mandy Baria (4.0) and Joe Atillo (4.0), fourth and fifth placers, Ramon Pangilinan and Maggie Dionson (3.5).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Health care for chess players

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

VICTOR Korchnoi ,76, is the oldest active grandmaster in the circuit today and is the 2006 World Senior Champion. He owes his longevity to physical exercise and the proper diet.

Recently I received an e-mail from lawyer-chessplayer Ed Mayol which I would like to share with my readers who would like to improve their level of play.

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“If the mind is tired, exercise the body. If the body is tired, exercise the mind. This is the balance we all need. If we always sit in the office, we would feel sleepy, and even suffer back pains etc. There is a need to stand up and walk once in a while.

I remember when Spassky played Fischer in 1972, it was said that he played tennis in between games. That’s a good diversion, as he would sweat it out in the tennis court, relieving his stress, especially against a difficult opponent as Bobby.

Also in Gary Kasparov’s preparation against Deep Junior, I saw him working out with his canoe on the beach. Again, another invigorating exercise.

Although many might disagree, but drinking beer or any alcoholic drink can destroy many cells in our brains.”

In addition Ed sent me another e-mail about the importance of diet in one’s play.

“You see, my elder brother, about two years ago, told me about a study featured in the National Geographic regarding two grandmasters in chess. Before their scheduled match (probably a week before), one was given a strict fish and vegetable diet.

The other one ate a lot of meat, especially pork, with its (tasty yet, deadly) fat.

The result? The one who ate meat, and especially the fat in pork, tended to get sleepy all the time during the actual tournament. The other one with the strict fish and vegetable diet was very alert and could very well concentrate with his game. And you know the result, even if these grandmasters have of more or less the same rating.”

There was also a study in a women’s magazine that mature/old people tend to be mentally sharp during the day, compared to the young ones. This is maybe because mature people sleep and wake up early. Whereas the younger ones sleep late, watch TV, enjoy the nightlife etc. So they are too lazy to wake up early.

Also, when it comes to coffee, the advertisements only want to emphasize on the benefits like the antioxidants in it, but they hide the fact that strong caffeine can cause abnormal palpitation of the heart, which leads to heart problems. Yes, coffee keeps (the chess player and everybody) alert, but it has its risks. Maybe green and white tea has less caffeine, and can also burn the fat in our body, making it a better alternative.”

I remember that prior to the World Chess Olympiad in 1992, the Philippine teams were secluded in Baguio City and had a full time physical fitness trainer and a consulting nutritionist. Also, the Vietnamese chess players practice Chinese shadow boxing as part of their preparation prior to a major tournament like the Southeast Asian Games.

All the top players like Fischer, Anand, Kramnik and Topalov, to mention a few, have a physical exercise regimen and constantly controlled their weight. There is a saying in Latin “Mens sana in corpore sano”—a sound mind is a sound body.

It has been estimated that a single game of top level chess, which sometimes last six hours, takes as much energy as a 10-round boxing match. No wonder that during the match between Karpov vs. Kasparov in 1984-85, Karpov lost 22 pounds and the match was aborted.

Cepca news. Our tournament for June is this coming Sunday at Deep Blue Woodpushers Café at SM City, 2nd floor at 130 pm.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cebuano wins silver in US National Open

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

ENRICO “Econg” Sevillano showed he still has what it takes by finishing tied for second in the 2007 US National Open held in Las Vegas last June 7 to 11.

Over 700 players played in the Open section that was won by Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura with 5.5/6 on five wins and a solitary draw against Econg.

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Nakamura, who has a USCF rating of 2738, won $6,000 and the Edmonton Cup. Tied for second to seventh places with five points each were Econg (2571), GM Victor Korchnoi (2664), GM Gregory Serper (2562), IM Joshua Friedel (2542), IM Renier Gonzalez (2526) and GM Andranik Matikozyan (2524). Each won $1,035.

Econg won against Tom Browncombe in the first round; over David Filifovich in the second; demolished IM David Vigorito in the third; drew with Nakamura in the fourth; upset GM Sergey Erenburg in the fifth and cruised to a draw against GM Varuzhan Akobian (2651) in the last round.

Enrico is the son of my friend Luis Sevillano and has a younger brother, Voltaire, who is also a strong chess player. A promising kiddie player is Kyle Sevillano, Econg’s nephew.

Kyle is only eight years old and is a constant winner in our club’s (Cepca) monthly Kiddies tournament.

OSCAR. The Fide Commission for Chess Information, Publication and Statistics (CHIPS) thru the “64” Russian Magazine has invited all chess columnists in the world to vote for the 2006 Chess Oscar winner.

The top 10 players I have chosen are 1.) Vladimir Kramnik 2.) Viswanathan Anand 3.) Levon Aronian 4.) Magnus Carlsen 5.) Gata Kamsky 6.) Wang Hao 7.) Veselin Topalov 8.) Peter Leko 9.) Judit Polgar 10.) Vassily Ivanchuk.

I choose Kramnik for his being the undisputed champion; Anand for winning the 2006 Corus tournament; Aronian for snaring the 2006 Linares; and Carlsen, who is only 16 and I believe will be a future world champion. Wang, 17, will also be a serious contender in the years to come.

First choice will get 13 points, second, 11 points, third, nine points, fourth, seventh points, fifth, six points up to the 10th placer, who will get one point.

CANDIDATES SECOND ROUND. One of the side events taking place at the on-going candidates matches in Elista, Kalmykia, Russia is the computer challenge pairing Deep Junior, the current computer champion versus Deep Fritz. The Israeli program Deep Junior is running on 16 processors and looks at 25 million positions per second, while Deep Fritz has eight processors at 2.66 MHz and 12 million positions.

Deep Junior was clearly superior with a 4-2 score on two wins and four draws in six games. Its share of the match was $60,000.

In the second round of the candidates elimination matches, Levon Aronian (2759, Armenia) won the first game against Alexei Shirov (2699, Spain) and drew the next five games, 3.5-2.5..

In the second match, Boris Gelfand (2733, Israel) needed only five games to ward off Gata Kamsky (2705, USA),3.5-1.5.

Likewise, Peter Leko (2738, Hungary) did the same to Evgeny Bareev (2635 Russia), 3.5-1.5.

Alexander Grischuk (2717, Russia ) and Sergei Rublevsky (2680, Russia) are deadlocked at 3.0-3.0 and will play tiebreak games.

The four winners will proceed to Mexico City this coming September to join Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich in vying for the World Championship.

CEPCA NEWS. Mandy Baria has chosen June 17 for the monthly tournament of the club. Stella Maris is the venue and the games will start at 1 p.m. The Kiddies and the Juniors will also be played together with the regular members.

We would like to extend the club’s condolence to Nicnic Climaco as his younger brother, Allan, recently passed away. To mention, my co- founders of Cepca are Art Ynclino, Gerry Tomakin, Loy Minoza, Alex Tolentino, Danny Pestaño, Nicnic and the late Sonny Sollano.

Friday, June 8, 2007

How Paragua fares against Eugene Torre

By Frank "Boy" Pestaño

MARK was born on March 29, 1984, making him just 23 years old now. His father, Ricardo, an engineer by profession, taught him how to play chess at the tender age of four (shades of Paul Morphy and Raoul Capablanca). Also supporting him whole-heartedly is his mother, Flordeliza Callano, an industrial engineer.

It might be interesting to note that his trainer was Joseph Sanchez, a Cebuano IM who is now campaigning in Europe. Mark is also a product of the Milo Checkmate program of WNM Mila Emperado.

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In the January 2006 rating list, Mark was rated 2618, placing him in the list of the Top 100 players in the world and conferred Super Grandmaster status. However, I have always questioned this as the level of 2700 best describes a Super GM now.

There are more than a dozen players rated 2700 and more than 100 with ratings over 2600.

His major achievements are: youngest National Master at age 12 (1996), youngest Filipino International Master at age 15 (1999),youngest Filipino GM at 20, the only Filipino to qualify for the highly prestigious World Cup in 2005, a qualifier for the 2004 World Championship, and a triple gold medalist in the 2003 South East Asian Games among others.

So now, how does he compare with Eugene Torre? While Mark may have rated higher than Eugene at his peak, the situation back in the late 70’s was different, and Eugene was once considered among the Top 10 players in the World. There were very few players over the 2600 mark and players had to rely on their own initiative, unlike today where the computer plays a major role in improving one’s playing ability.

Back then, the accomplishment of Eugene can be likened to Manny Pacquiao.

In a continent of over two billion people, he was the first to attain GM status.

I remember that he was a constant guest of Seeing Stars with Joe Quirino and he even starred in a movie with Vilma Santos titled Basta Isipin Mong Mahal Kita.

Still Mark is young and I am sure that in due time, as he matures, he will continually improve and bring more honors to our country.

CANDIDATES. The elimination for the 2007 World Championship is now ongoing at Elista, Kalmykia Russia. Only four will proceed to Mexico City this September to join Kramnik, Anand, Svidler and Mozorevich.

The Levon Aronian (2759, Armenia) and Magnus Carlsen ( 2693, Norway) fight was a draw after the regulation six games. In the tiebreak, Aronian prevailed, 4-2, to proceed to the second round. This was the tightest match so far.

Peter Leko (2738, Hungary) routed Mikhael Gurevich (2639, Turkey), 3.5-0.5, which was not expected as Gurevich might have been out of form.

Sergei Rublevsky (2680, Russia) upset former fide World Champion Ruslan Pononariov (2717, Ukraine) with a win in the third game while drawing the rest, 3.5-2.5.

Boris Gelfand (2733, Israel) versus another former fide World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov (2677, Uzbekistan) was deadlocked after the regular six games. Boris surprisingly was better in the tiebreak, 2.5-0.5.

Gata Kamsky (2705, USA) demolished former boy wonder Etienne Bacrot (2709, France), 3.5-0.5. Bacrot was a slight favorite as Gata is coming back after a long lay-off.

Alexander Grischuk (2717, Russia) scored two wins and two draws against Vladimir Malakhov (2679, Russia) to finish the match in five games.

Judit Polgar (2727, Hungary) played like an ordinary GM as she lost to Evgeeny Bareev (2643, Russia), 2.5-3.5, for the biggest upset of the whole tournament.

Alexei Shirov (2699, Spain) against Michael Adams (2734, England) was a close 5.5-3.5 after tiebreaks.

The next round will feature Aronian-Shirov, Leko-Bareev, Rublevsky –Grischuk and Gelfand-Kamsky. It will still be the same six games format with tiebreaks.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The 2007 World Chess Championships

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE candidates matches for the 2007 World Championship are currently on-going at the chess city of Elista, Kalmykia Russia. Only four will proceed to Mexico City in September this year to join Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand, Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich in vying for the World Championship.

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The 16 players, based on the results of the World Cup, are 1.) Levon Aronian 2759 (Armenia), 2.) Peter Leko 2749 (Hungary), 3.) Ruslan Ponomariov 2717 (Ukraine), 4.) Boris Gelfand 2733 (Israel), 5.) Etienne Bacrot 2709 (France), 6.) Alexander Grischuk 2717 (Russia), 7.) Judith Polgar 2727 (Hungary), 8.) Alexei Shirov 2699 (Spain), 9.) Michael Adams 2734 (England), 10.) Evgeny Bareev 2743 (Russia), 11.) Vladimir Malakhov 2679 (Russia), 12.) Gata Kamsky 2705 (USA), 13.) Rustam Kasimjanov 2677 (Uzbekistan), 14.) Sergei Rublevsky 2680 (Russia), 15.) Mikhail Gurevich 2635 (Turkmenistan), 16.) Magnus Carlsen 2676 (Norway).

The winner of 1 vs. 16 (Aronian-Carlsen) faces the winner of 8 vs. 9 (Adams-Shirov). Winner of 2 vs. 15 (Leko-Gurevich) meets winner of 7 vs. 10 (Polgar-Bareev). Winner of 3 vs. 14 (Ponomariov-Rublevsky) plays the winner of 6 vs. 11 (Grischuk-Malakhov). Winner of 4 vs. 13 (Gelfand-Kasimjanov) plays the winner of 5 vs. 12 (Bacrot-Kamsky).

After three rounds of six , Carlsen-Aronian is tied at 1.5-1.5; Leko has a big lead over Gurevich, 2.5-0.5; Rublevsky is surprising former Fide champion Ponomariov, 2.0-1.0; Gelfand and Kasimjanov are tied at 1.5-1.5; Kamsky is showing the way over Bacrot, 2.5-0.5; Grischuk is winning over Malakhov, 2.0-1.0; Judit is bowled over by Bareev, 2.0-1.0; and Adams and Shirov are tied 1.5-1.5.

It’s nice to know that IM Enrico “Econg” Sevillano is still active in the US circuit as he tied for 17th place in the Frank K Berry US Championship 2007 in Stillwater, Oklahoma last May 15-23.

For those who do not know him, he is a Cebuano and the son of my friend Luis Sevillano and at one time had a great potential to be a world class player .His contemporaries are the No.1 player in the world today, Anand, and Vassily Ivanchuk.

WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP. It seems that China is now the undisputed world power in women’s chess as it had a clear advantage over a select field of nine other countries—Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Poland, Vietnam ,Germany, Czech Republic and a surprise, Botswana. Here are the standings after six rounds:

1.) China 11 2.) Russia 9 3.) to 4.) Georgia, Ukraine 5.)Vietnam 7 6.) to 7.) Germany, Poland 8.) Armenia 4 9.) Czech Rep 3. 10.) Botswana 0.

Two points are given for a win, one for draw and zero for a loss. The games are played over four boards. An aberration was a 4-0 whitewash by China over Russia which is just simply amazing .

The limelight, however, belongs to the girls from Africa who are having the most fun despite a big fat egg.

WALTER. The 42nd Capablanca memorial which just concluded last May 29 in Havana, Cuba was won by Ivanchuk by an astounding two points over Dominguez and Gashimov. This is like winning a basketball game by 50 points. There were 87 players in this tournament.

Final standings after nine rounds: 1.) Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2729) 7.5 2.) Lenier Dominguez Perez (Cuba) 2678 5.5 3.) Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan) 2644 5.5 4.) Yuniesky Quezada Perez (Cuba) 2541 4.5 5.) Kamil Miton (Poland) 2653 4.5 6.) Walter Arencibia Rodriguez (Cuba) 2555 4.5.

I am featuring this tournament not only because of its long history but also because Arencibia was our visitor back in the 90s and I have good memories of him when we were together with Art Ynclino and Alex Tolentino CEPCA NEWS. Tournament director Mandy Baria has informed us that the Kiddies and Juniors monthly tournament for June will be on June 3 at Stella Maris starting at 1 p.m.