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.

Pinoy Votes: Sun.Star Election 2007 Coverage

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.

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