Friday, September 7, 2007

The bumpy road to the top of the world

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step. The sixth Asian Individual Chess Championships that will commence on Sept. 19-30 at the Cebu International Convention Center is a continental elimination that will determine the 10 players, who will play in the World Cup 2007 at Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia on Nov. 23.

What is at stake in the biggest competition ever held in Cebu is not the $40,000 total cash prize, which is substantial, but the prestige and the jab at becoming a world champion.

This tournament involves 44 federations in Asia. Each federation is entitled to send a representative who will enjoy free accommodations at the Crown Regency in Mactan.

The World Cup 2007 is a 128-player knockout competition and the winner will play either Kramnik or Topalov for the World Championship in 2009, depending on who will win the World Championship in Mexico City which starts next week on Sept. 12.

The National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) has released the initial registrants and I was surprised that a good number of highly rated players are missing. Upon checking the regulations at Fide, Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan, Sasikiran Krishnan and Pentala Harikrishna of India are absent from this tournament as they are already qualified for the World Cup due to their high ratings.

Players who have less than 2300 Elo cannot play in this competition.

Reviewing the ratings of our players, only 45 have ratings above 2300 and even then some are inactive or are residing abroad. My estimate is that only 10-15 Pinoys will play as the entry fees are on the high side—$100 for NCFP members and $150 for the Asian Chess Federation (ACF) members or about P12,000. This amount is way beyond the capacity of most players unless they can find a sponsor.

Taking a look at the early registrants so far, the Chinese look formidable.

They have entered 10 players, six of them are super GMs namely, Wang Yue (2696), Bu Xiangzhi (2685), Ni Hua (2681), Zhang Pengxiang (2649), Ye Jiangchuan 2632 and Wang Hao (2626). The same players are fresh from their conquest in Russia 52.5-47.5 last week at Nizhniy Novgorod with the men winning a close 25.5-24.5 and the women a devastating 27-23.

Indonesia has its usual reliables Utut Adianto (2583) and Megaranto Susanto (2554). Iran is expected to send Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (2610), the surprise in the Asian Games in Qatar and Elshan Moradiabadi (2540).

India is sending about 10 players led by Shekhar Ganguly (2586), while Vietnam will have Le Quang Liem (2542) and Nguyen Ahn Dung (2537). Singapore has its super GM Zhang Zhong (2634).

Our GMs Eugene Torre (2536), Joey Antonio (2532), Mark Paragua (2525), Nelson Mariano II (2447) and several other IMs are also expected to play.

A side event is the Fide arbiters seminar on Sept. 20-24 at the CICC concurrent with the Asian Individual Championship.

Fide Honorary President Florencio Campomanes will be the lead lecturer. Other lecturers are Fide Secretary General Ignatius Leong of Singapore, Fide Technical Commission Chairman Dr. Andrzej Filipowicz of Poland and ACF Deputy President Casto Abundo. Successful examinees shall be awarded the Fide Arbiter title.

CEPCA NEWS. The winners in the Kiddies and Juniors tournament for the month of August are Jessa Balbona, King James Torres and Shawn Patrick Osorno in the Juniors class and Jeroni Vinculado, Neil Adrian Gelig and the Balbona brothers, Felix Shaun, John Francis and Marq for the Kiddies event.

The September competition for regular members will be on Sept. 16, Sunday at the Deep Blue Café SM City, starting at 1 p.m.

No comments: