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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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).

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