Friday, September 21, 2007

Hosting the Chess Olympiad

By Frank "Boy” Pestaño

FOR the past several weeks, I was looking forward to the 6th Individual Asian Chess Championship at the classy Cebu International Convention Center as I wanted to meet as many grandmasters as possible in my lifetime. You see, my childhood heroes are not Superman, Batman or whoever but Mikhael Botvinnik, Paul Keres, David Bronstein and other chess legends.

I would have wanted to cover the tournament for Sun.Star but last Tuesday evening I was afflicted with a severe case of allergy that up to now makes me feel utterly uncomfortable and sore. My doctor told me that I was lucky that it had not spread to my larynx but to make sure that my lungs are okey, I will have an x-ray this afternoon.

I was excited to read in the Sun.Star issue last Thursday that National Chess Federation of the Philippines President Prospero Pichay and Gov. Gwen Garcia will bid for the hosting of the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Cebu.

To recall, the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila at the Philippine International Convention Center, orchestrated by the now Fide Honorary President Florencio Campomanes, was probably the best ever. It helped a lot also that President Corazon Aquino and her then executive secretary Frank Drilon are chess players. Since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a chess player, she will understand Pichay’s bid.

It needs a superb leader and organizer and assistance by the national leadership to host a Chess Olympiad. Aside from the logistics involved, the venue of the tournament and capacity of the host city will be taken into consideration. Cebu has both and more. I hope that Pichay will still be NCFP president by that time as he has done a good job during his current term.

When Fide was founded in 1924, the desire of the organizers was to regularly hold an International Team tournament.

The Olympiad is held every even-numbered years although prior to World War II, the event was sometimes held annually. There was also an “unofficial” series of Chess Olympiads which ended in 1976.

The 2008 Olympiad is due to be held in Dresden, Germany which beat the only other bidder, Tallinn. The 2010 Olympiad is due to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Will it be Cebu 2012?

Gens una sumus! This was the motto adopted by Fide and indeed the Chess Olympiads unite the whole world. The 37th in Turin, Italy in 2006 with 150 Men’s team and 108 Women’s made it the biggest Olympiad ever; every continent was represented. Men’s teams (six players) plus the women’s teams ( four players ), make the modern chess Olympiads the biggest gathering of chess talent in the world. National, International Masters and grandmasters, world champions have taken part in the Olympiads.

1st round results. The most significant result in the first round was the win by IM Mahjoobzardast Morteza (2479) of Iran versus the top seed of the tournament, GM Ni Hua (2681) of China. Another upset win was achieved by IM Al Sayed Mohammad (2469) of Qatar over GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly (2586) of India, who I understand, already qualifies for the World Cup by
winning Zone 3.2.

GMs Eugene Torre, Joey Antonio and Mark Paragua won over their respective opponents but IM Oliver Dimakiling (2500) was not lucky as he lost To FM N.A. Hussein (2341) of Iraq. Cebuano IMs Richard Bitoon and Barlo Nadera drew their matches against strong opponents, both Vietnamese.

Emmanuel Senador, Ronald Bancod, Rustum Tolentino and Julio Sadorra were on the losing end but Kim Steven Yap (2246) had a feast over highly rated Enamul Hossain (2485 ) of Bangladesh.

Thanks to arbiter Linky Yap for forwarding to me these results.

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