Friday, August 31, 2007

World Championship 2007 and Cebu Asian GM

By Frank “Boy” Pestaña

READY for the two biggest events of the year? The World Championship will take place on Sept. 12 to 30 or 12 days from now in Mexico City and will feature eight of the top players in a double round robin format. Prize fund is US $1.3 million.

Here is a brief background of the participants and their latest tournament results. By the way this is a category 21
tournament, a rarity.

Viswanathan Anand is 38 years old from India and is presently rated numero uno with Elo 2792. He became World Junior champion in 1987 and was Fide 2000 champion in Tehran. He has dominated Wijk Aan Zee 5 times. This year, he captured Morelia-Linares and placed second in Melody Amber.

Vladimir Kramnik was born in Tuapse, Russia 32 years ago, and is the second highest rated player today with Elo 2769. In 2000, he overcame Garry Kasparov to become Classical World champion. He has collected Linares 3 times and this year garnered Melody Amber and Dortmund.

Alexander Morozevich, 30, was born in Moscow, Russia and is the 4th highest rated with Elo 2762. He has won both Biel and Melody Amber 3 times and was Russia champion in 2003. This year, he was 2nd in Morelia-Linares.

Peter Leko is from Hungary and will be 30 next week. His current rating is 2751. He tied with Kramnik for first in 2003 Linares and snared Wijk Aan Zee 2005. This year, he was world rapid champion at Odessa.

Levon Aronian is from Armenia and only 25. He is the envy among chess loverboys as the alleged boyfriend of Arianne Caoili, 20, a stunning Filipino-Australia-Dutch extraction, dubbed the Anna Kournikova of the chess world.

According to close observers “she is worth fighting for” referring to the scuffle between Aronian and GM Daniel Gomally over her at the Turin Olympiad in 2006! Levon`s Elo is 2750 and his credentials are impressive at his age. He was 2002 World Junior victor, 2005 Word Cup winner and first at 2006 Linares. He was supreme at Wijk Aan Zee this year.

Peter Svidler is the 3rd Russian finalist, 31 years old, and rated 2736. He is a four-time Russia champion. He collected Dortmund twice and tied for second at the 2005 World Championship in San Luis, Argentina with Anand. This year, he placed 4th in Melody Amber.

Boris Gelfand is, at 39, the oldest of the group and was originally from Belarus but transferred to Israel. His Elo stands at 2733. He was second at Linares in 1990 and won the Biel Interzonals in 1993. This year, he was second to Leko at the Odessa Rapid and 6th in Melody Amber.

Alexander Grischuk is the 4th Russian finalist and the youngest of the group at 23. He was a semi-finalist in the World Chess Championship at New Delhi 2000 and was second to Kasparov in the 2004 Russian Championship. This year, he placed 6th at the Tal Memorial. His Elo is 2726.

Anand, Morozevich and Svidler qualified due to their performance in the Fide World Championship 2005 in San Luis, Argentina and Kramnik by defeating Topalov in their Unification Match in Elista 2006. The other four players qualified in the Elista 2007Candidates Matches.

BIGGEST IN CEBU. 6th Asian Individual Chess Championship (Invitational) Cebu will host this city`s biggest tournament ever at the spanking Cebu International Convention Center from Sept. 18-30. This contest is a sparkling diamond that all Cebuano chess players should celebrate and patronize.

The competition is open to all Asian federations and the top 10 will qualify to the 2007 Fide World Cup. At stake is $40,000 in cash prizes.

More than 150 top players are expected although participation is limited to those with Elo 2300 and above.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Missing Grandmasters at the Pichay Open

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

MAinz Chess Classic is a monster event of superlative proportions.

It is annually held in Mainz ,Germany and is a weeklong event from Aug. 13 to 20.

It consists of several tournaments; the Ordix Open, a traditional rapid chess won by David Navara outclassing 761 players including 188 GMs; FiNET Open, a chess960 rapid won by Victor Bologan against 250 participants. There was a four-way contest between Aronian, Anand, Kasimdzhanov and Bacrot in the Mainz with Aronian winning the FiNet chess960 Rapid and Anand snatching the renkeleasing Rapid.

Other tournaments are the Mini-Ordix Open for children, which was captured by Constantin Gobel; Mini-FiNet Open–chess960 for children that was snared by Anna Endress. There was also a 40-board simul by Vassily Ivanchuk and the Rapid chess960 computer championship won by Deep Shredder.

Chess960 or Fischer Random is a variant wherein the major pieces are not in their original positions.

Ordix, FiNet and Grenkeleasing were the major sponsors of the whole event.

Other winners in the Ordix Open were GM Vlastimir Hort in the Senior category, WGM Marie Sebag for Women, GM Igor Lysyj for Juniors and GM Parimarjan Negi for the 14-Under.

The fourth Prospero Pichay Sr. Memorial Open Competition in Cantilan, Surigao concluded the other week and was dominated by Cebuanos.

IM Barlo Nadera of Mandaue took solo first with 8.5/9 to win a cool P100,000.

Tied for second to fourth were IM Richard Bitoon Of Cebu, NM Mirabeau Maga of Davao and IM Manny Senador of Iloilo. The other winners from fifth to 10th were Oliver Dimakiling, Ernesto Fernandez, Rolando Nolte, Jimmy Dano, Nouri Hamed and Ronald Bancod.

The contest was notable because of the absence of the heavyweights (GMs Torre, Antonio, Paragua, Mariano) despite the attractive cash prizes. We can only assume that our GMs went kakak as the contest was Fide-rated and will affect their Elo rating if they don’t perform well.

The World Youth Under-16 Olympiad was held in Singapore last Aug. 4 to 12 and the Philippines had an excellent performance by placing third among 34 countries. We handed India its only loss although it captured first with a better tiebreak.

Wesley So had the most incredible result in the event with a 9.5/10 score for a performance rating of 2736! Other members were Victor Ochoa, Pascua Haridas and Robert Grafil.

USC CHES. The University of San Carlos Chemical Engineering Society celebrated its Golden Anniversary last Aug. 3 to 5.

A luncheon, film showing and fellowship night was held on the first day with a cowboy motif. There were games and entertainment, while fireworks lit the sky at the Talamban campus.

There was bowling on the second day at the SM Bowling Center followed by a dinner at the Casino Español. The Society’s board of trustees were elected and recognitions were given to the members who played big parts in the group’s existence. The three-day affair ended at the private resort of Bobby Gandionco.

My classmate in college, Steve Parrado, came all the way from Georgia, US, to attend the celebration. We had dinner after the event at Marco Polo together with another classmate, Angel Yap, and our teacher in Physical Chemistry, Elsa Roska, who went on to become a dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture. Elsa is still a beauty to behold despite the years.

CEPCA NEWS. Mike Banebane won the August competition last Sunday at SM City. Mandy Baria, Jun Olis and Joe Atillo tied for second to fourth, while Nic Cuizon was fifth.

As Mike and Mandy already qualified to the grand finals in December, Jun Olis will be the representative for August.

The Kiddies monthly tournament will be this Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Deep Blue Café in SM City starting at 10 a.m.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Madonna vs. Julia Roberts and other matches

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

CHESS is the most popular pastime in the planet today with an estimated 600 million people—including a lot of lebrities—who play the game. Featured today are dream celebrity matches and my evaluation on who is the better player.

In Hollywood, the ideal match would be between the greatest entertainer of all time, Humprey Bogart and the most influential director of the 20th century, Stanley Kubrick. Both are rated about 2200.

Before he became famous, Bogart survived by hustling strangers at 50 cents per game in chess parlors at the New York Times Square. On the other hand, Kubrick’s lifelong obsession was chess and he supplemented his income by also hustling strangers in Washington Square Park and in various Manhattan Chess clubs. My assessment is that Bogart will be the victor by the tiniest of margins although George C. Scott will not agree as he has a minus score against Kubrick.

Among the ladies in Hollywood, nobody even comes close to the chess prowess of Julia Roberts and Madonna. A contest between the two would generate a lot of interest as both are good players.

In the Internet Chess Club, Madonna has played an incredible 19,000 plus games and the highest rating she achieved was 2003 in Feb. 16, 1999. She is being tutored by Scottish champion IM Alan Norris.

On the other hand, Roberts is a chess fanatic who has played over 10,000 games in the Internet. She attained a 2057 rating in July 22, 2002, her highest so far.

I think that someday they will really meet on the chessboard and the winner will probably be Madonna 5.5-4.5 in 10 games.

Among the singers, Bono (U2) and Sting would be a good match. Sting , whose real name is Gordon Sumner, is the lead singer and bass player of the band The Police. He wanted to be a grandmaster while still in his teens and once played Garry Kasparov on June 29, 2000 in New York in a simul together with the other band members.

Here’s a quote from 1987 where Bono, whose real name is Paul Hewson, talked about his interest in chess: “ One day I’d wake up and want to be a chess player—the best. I’d read a book on it, and at 12, I studied the grandmasters, and I was fascinated.” He was a regular tournament player at age 12.

In a contest, Sting would be a close winner in 10 games, 6-4.

Vladimir Klischko and Lennox Lewis have several things in common. They were both heavyweight boxing champions, are huge, and both hold doctorate degrees. They are also chess fanatics without any equal in the sports world.

Klischko has played friendly games with his best friend, World Champion Vladimir Kramnik and has also played blitz matches alongside Garry Kasparov.

Lewis was featured in the internet last May 23, 2006 and his sponsors offered $1,000 to anybody in the world who could trounce him in chess online.

Lewis has several times expressed his interest to play Vladimir and it would be very interesting indeed on who would prevail. Anyone of them can win a tournament in Cebu. Klischko should win 6-4 in a 10-game match.

I was thinking of originally pairing Roger Federer against Boris Becker, however, it would be a mismatch as Becker is clearly superior in chess .

But not against Ivan Lendl .

Lendl originally wanted to be a professional chess player as he was taught by his father, Jiri, who was Czech Junior chess champion.

Among the celebrities chosen to play Garry Kasparov was Becker which was aired “live” in CNN for one hour on March 15, 2000. Kasparov was in Manhattan while Becker was in Munich. Becker should prevail over Lendl, 6-4, in 10 games.

CEPCA NEWS. Our monthly competition will be this coming Sunday Aug. 19 at the Deep Blue Café in SM City starting 1 p.m.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Alien abduction of a Fide president

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

KIRSAN Ilyumzhinov has been the president of the World Chess Federation (Fide) from 1995 up to the present. He claims in 1997, that he was abducted by aliens and bought to a distant star aboard a space ship.

“They took me from my apartment and we went aboard their ship. We flew to some kind of star. They put a spacesuit on me, told me many things and showed me around. They wanted to demonstrate that UFO’s do exist.”

Chess can be deadly too. Here is a press release from the Boulder Daily last Aug. 16, 1994.

“A 37-year-old man had been arrested for murder charges when he allegedly shot a friend on his birthday after the two argued over a chess game.

Cox died of two gunshot wounds on the chest. Together with five of his friends, the victim was celebrating his birthday at his trailer at the Johnson Trailer Park, when he sat down for a game of chess with Wirth. Witnesses told police Wirth lost the game, knocked over the chessboard and began arguing with the victim.

The two men went outside, and Wirth went across the street to his home and returned with a gun. Witnesses said the argument resumed and the victim was shot.”

OTHER TALES. During the Buenos Aires Olympiad in 1978, a member of a Middle East chess team offered one of the girls working for the organizers $1 million to sleep with him. The offer was refused.

Bobby Fischer once withdrew from a tournament because a woman was playing in the event. She was Lisa Lane, who was then the US women’s champion.

Sand glasses were used as the first chess clocks.

Humphrey Bogart used to hustle strangers for 50 cents a game in chess parlors at the New York Times Square in the 1930’s, before he became the greatest entertainer of all time. He treated his friends according to their ability to play chess. His Elo rating has been estimated at 2200.

Blackburne was once arrested after authorities believed him to be a spy. He sent chess moves in the mail, which led authorities to believe that the moves were secret codes.

The leading British chess masters during World War II were hired as codebreakers by the British Intelligence.

In 1939, former US open champion Weaver Adams wrote a book entitled “White to Play and Win.” At his next tournament, he lost all of his games as White and won all his games as Black.

Paul Morphy was so famous a celebrity that he once wrote a chess column in a newspaper for a fantastic salary (in 1859) of $3,000 a year. This is equivalent to about $600,000 today.

When Napoleon died, he willed that his heart be cut out and placed inside a chess table.

The Philippines and Italy were the only two countries in 1976, to have competed at both Fide Chess Olympiad at Haifa, Israel and the “Against Chess Olympiad” that was held at Tripoli, Libya in the same year. Apparently, President Marcos wanted to maintain good relations with the US, which was backing Israel and the Arab countries.

Milton Ioannidis of Cyprus holds the unlucky record of the worst all-time playing results in the history of the Olympiads. In the 1962 and 1964 Olympiads, Ioannidis finished his disgraceful feat of no wins, no draws and 24 losses.

CEPCA NEWS. Last week, I wrote a special column about Gerry Tomakin, who recently passed away, and I also mentioned the other Cepca members who have died. My attention was called by some members as the list was incomplete. The other members who have left us are Butch Loyola, Ben Genon and Payling Alegado in addition to Gerry, Sonny Sollano, Migs Enriquez and Bobot Villaluna. My apologies.

The top three winners in the kiddies contest for the month of July are King James Torres, Marq Balbona and Felix Shaun Balbona.

The August monthly competition for regular members will be on Aug. 19 at the Deep Blue Café at SM City Cebu.

Friday, August 3, 2007

It’s the turn of the ladies

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

TWO major ladies’ tournaments have just concluded this week. The first was the Women’s MonRoi International Grand Prix finale held in Montreal from July 21 to 28 and the 5th North Urals Cup, which took place in Russia from July 22 to 31.

The MonRoi Grand Prix was a closed round robin tournament for women and featured the winners of seven competitions held this year, namely the Gib Telecom in Gibraltar from Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, the Cannes Open in France in Feb. 18-25 and Zagreb Open in Croatia on March 17-25. The other legs were the ECU Individual in Dresden, Germany on April 2-15, the Liechtenstein Open last May11-19, the EU Individual in Italy on June14-25 and the World Open in USA last June 28-July4.

GM Pia Cramling of Sweden took clear first with 5/7. Final round seven standings: 1.) Cramling (2533, 5.0) 2.) Jovanka Houska (England, 2401, 4.5) 3.) Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia, 2460, 4.5) 4.) Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (Georgia, 2418, 4.0) 5.) Iweta Rajlich (Poland, 2406, 4.0) 6.) Irina Krush (US, 2479, 3.0) 7.) Cristina Adela Foisor (Rome, 2372, 3.0) 8.) Myriam Roy (Canada, 1925, 0).

In addition to the cash prize, the winner of the Grand-Prix was awarded with a truly unique watch embellished with 16 sparkling diamonds.

According to its website, MonRoi’s mission is to create new products and services tailored for the chess community worldwide. The company designs and markets patented, innovative leading edge technology for real-time chess game broadcast.

This portable and wireless system was implemented on three continents in over 10,000 chess matches at the world championships, open and closed, as well as youth events. MonRoi also provides professional online services to tournament organizers.

The North Ural Cup was restricted to the top women players who have an Elo average of 2478. Zhu Chen, a Chinese, who now plays for Qatar after marrying Qatari GM Mohammed Al-Modiahki, won with 6/9 with a better tiebreak than another Chinese Zhao Xue. Chen was formerly the 11th World champion, who plays with a ponytail only when at the board.

In the 9th and final round, the big battle was between Xue and Katyrena Lahno. The Chinese won after a marathon 70 moves.

Chen also prevailed against ormer World champion Stefanova, who was definitely off-form, causing her to finish last.

Final Round 9 Standings: 1.) Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2522, 6.0) 2.) Zhao Xue (China, 2500, 6.0) 3.) Natalija Pogonina (Russia, 2429, 5.5), 4.) Kateryna Lahno (Ukraine, 2450, 5.0) 5.) Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia, 2456, 4.0) 6.) Anna Ushenina (Ukraine, 2502, 4.0) 7.) Hou Yifan (China, 2523, 4.0) 8.) Elisabeth Paehtz (Germany, 2457, 3.5) 9.) Alisa Galliamova (Russia, 2468, 3.5) 10.) Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria, 2481 3.5).

Meanwhile, here are two young ladies making waves in the chess world. One thing in common between them is that they are both very young and talented and anyone of them can become world champion.

Hou Yifan, who is only 13, was seeded first in the North Ural tournament. She had a disappointing performance as she scored only four points. However, that should not distract us from the fact that she is a chess phenomenon.

Between the April 2006 and July 2006 FIide rating lists, Hou gained an impressive 190 rating points from a rating of 2298 to a rating of 2488. She is currently China’s youngest ever women’s national champion and has an Elo of 2523 as of July 2007.

Koneru Humpy, 20 years old, now has an Elo rating of 2575 and experts are saying that she will reach the 2600 rating in due time. Only Judit Polgar is rated higher.

A true child prodigy, Humpy is the youngest woman player to achieve grandmaster (not just WGM) beating Judit’s record by three months. She was the 10-Under, 12-Under and 14-Under champion in the past and was the world junior champion in 2002.