Friday, September 28, 2007

Close fight seen for 10 slots

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I WAS expecting the Chinese to claim at least six slots to the World Cup but a surprisingly strong showing by the Indonesians ,Indians and Filipinos might reduce it to four.

The story of the tournament though is the rise of the unheralded Cebuano Kim Steven Yap, a 19-year-old student, to unexpected stardom. Despite an eighth round loss to Darwin Laylo, who has a story to tell himself, Kim is only half point from bagging his first IM norm.

Talking to him, he is even targeting an outright GM norm which is a very tall order indeed considering the quality of the opposition. There are still three rounds to play and he needs to score 1 and 1/2 points more.

The highest performing Pinoy is Darwin Laylo with 5 1/2 points after 8 rounds.

Darwin was not even expected to play as he was serving a six-month suspension but was lifted for this tournament. Darwin needs only ½ point in his last three games to finally gain his third and final norm and become a grandmaster.

My favorite player Eugene Torre is practically out of the top 10 as he suffered back-to-back losses versus Das Neelotpal of India and Ni Hua of China, the top seeded player in the tournament. I expect both gentlemen to enter the winners’ circle.

Here is my fearless forecast on the magic 10 players: Zhang Pengxiang, Wang Hao ,Ni Hua, Zhao Jun, Megaranto Susanto

Darwin Laylo, Rogelio Antonio, Gopal G.N., Utut Adianto and Neelotpal Das.

The contest is very close though as there is still an eternity to play with three rounds to go. An additional 20 players still has a mathematical chance to share the limelight depending on their performance in the remaining games.

SIDE EVENTS. A side event of the tournament is the Cebu Open, which attracted about 70 players, featuring P54,000 in prizes.

Another one is the executives tournament which starts today at 1 p.m. in the same venue. Registration is P500 with P8,000 going to the champion. Time control is 25 minutes per player, seven rounds Swiss. About 15 members from the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association are expected to play led by its president Mat Matuco.

The Philippines now has 12 new Fide arbiters, three from Cebu. Twenty five aspirants registered for the four-day seminar conducted by Fide honorary president Florencio Campomanes, Fide secretary general Ignatius Leong of Singapore, Dr. Andrzed Filipowicz of Poland and the arbiter of this Asian Championship, Casto Abundo.

The new Fide arbiters from Cebu are NM Roger Abella, who provided me the insights of the whole tournament, Marvin Ruelan and University of Cebu coach, Luis Navaja.

The point men for this Asian Individual Championship are Tournament Director Willie Abalos and Cebu Chess Federation president, Bogie Lim.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. Vishwanatan Anand of India has practically snatched the World Championship with a lead of 1 and 1/2 points over his closest pursuer, Boris Gelfand of Israel after the 11th round. Only a miracle can stop the Indian from becoming undisputed World Champion.

There are still three rounds left and a lead like that is like leading by 50 points in the last quarter of a basketball game.

Anand is the only unbeaten player in this 8-man double-round robin format. He drew both his games versus Kramnik and Gelfand and garnered a win each over Grischuk ,Aronian ,Morozevich and Svidler.

Round 11 Standings: 1. Anand, Viswanathan 2792 7.5; 2. Gelfand, Boris 2733 6.0; 3. Kramnik, Vladimir 2769 5.5; 4. Leko, Peter 2751 5.5; 5. Aronian, Levon 2750 5.5; 6. Grischuk, Alexander RUS 2726 5.0; 7. Svidler, Peter RUS 2735 4.5; 8. Morozevich, Alexander RUS 2758 4.5.

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