Friday, November 30, 2007

The stars of tomorrow

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE World Youth Chess Championship finished yesterday with a record 1,500 plus players from 103 countries in Kemer-Antalya, Turkey. There were separate groups for girls and for boys, 8-Under, 10-Under, 12-Under, 14-Under, 16-Under and 18-Under.

The numbers make this event one of the biggest ever, rivaling even the Chess Olympiads of the past.

Here are the results in the categories we competed in after the final 11 rounds. Eight-Under champion is Maria Ivana Furtado of India with nine points. Our own Revita Samantha Glo managed six pts after winning her last two games.

In the Girls 10-Under category, Mira Mirano snared 6.5 points behind runaway winner Anna Styazhkina of Russia who scored 9.5 points. The 12-Under Girls was won by Marsel Efroimski of Israel with 9.5 points. Brena Mae Membrene scored 6 points.

The 14-Under Girls champion was Paidkidze Nazi with 9.5, while our own Chardine Cheradee Camacho could manage only 6.5 despite a good start.

Carl Victor Ochoa got 5.5 points in the Boys 16-Under behind four players who tied for first with 8.5 points. Cristian Chirila won on tiebreak. The 16-Under Girls winner was Keti Tsatsalashvili of Georgia with 8.5, while Kimberly Jane Cunanan had only 5 points.

Finally, Ivan Popov of Russia won the premiere 18-Under Boys by scoring 9 points, way ahead of Paulo James Florendo who settled for 6.5.

World Blitz. The World Blitz Championship was played by 20 pre-qualified players in a double round robin format at the Gum Department Store in Russia last November 21-22.

It was like a telenovela finish, full of dramatics. In the last round, the two top rated players in the world faced each other as Anand clawed his way to the top in the second half of the competition. Anand was up by two pawns and was a sure winner until a dramatic blunder assured Ivanchuk’s win. He won $25,000, while Anand settled for $15,000. Rate of play was four minutes with 2-second increments.

Here are the top six placers. 1.) Vassily Ivanchuck (Elo 2787, 19 wins) 2.) Viswanathan Anand (2801, 18) 3.)Alexander Grischuk (2715, 14) 4.) Gata Kamsky (2714, 16) 5.) Vladimir Kramnik (2785, 13) 6.) Peter Leko (2755, 13).

World Cup 2007. New GM Darwin Laylo Elo 2508 should hold his head high despite losing to French Champion Etienne Bacrot (2695) as he made the former child prodigy sweat by drawing the first two regular games. Darwin lost in the tiebreak but still won $6,000.

The Khanty-Mansiysk World Cup 2007 winner will challenge former Champion Velin Topalov in an eight-game contest early next year.

PGMA cup. This was a rather dismal performance by the locals as no Pinoy made a GM Norm. I was expecting 14-year-old Wesley So to make history as one of the youngest ever to make GM, but he faded in the last rounds.

The Chinese, as expected, dominated the event by grabbing the top three positions. Ni Hua, Li Chao and Zhou Weiqui had 7/9 points followed by Pinoys Mark Paragua, a surprising Dino Ballecer and Singapore’s Zhang Zhong with 6.5/9.

Cepca. Finally after a year-long monthly tournaments, here are the grand finalists for this year: (January) Nic Cuizon, (February) William Retanal, (March)Mike Banebane, (April) Tony Cabibil, (May) Maggi Dionson, (June) Mandy Baria, (July) Zaldy Tabanao, (August) Jun Olis, (September) Mat Matuco, (October) Jojo Muralla and (December) reserved for Honorary member Bombi Aznar.

Meanwhile, a contest was held during the Lapu-Lapu Fiesta and the winners were Ademar Toledo followed by Rito Bastida, Arthur Castanos, Aldwin Daculan and Felix Poloyapoy. Jun Olis was the tournament director. Trophies and cash were awarded by the 2007 Lapu-Lapu Fiesta Committee chaired by Mrs. Paz Radaza.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Rib ticklers and tournaments galore

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

HERE are some nice ones from the website to make your day.

Alekhine dies and approaches the Heaven’s gates, but is denied admittance because they don’t allow chess masters inside. He was just about to leave but looks through the gates and sees Efim Bogolyubov inside, and tries to object. “Hey, I thought you said you didn’t allow chess masters in there.” St. Peter replies “Oh, he’s not a chess
master, he just thinks he is.”

A man calls the FIDE office and asks, “I want to become FIDE president!

“Are you crazy?”

“No...Any other conditions?”

During the recent Karpov-Korchnoi world chess championship in Baguio the game was adjourned. In the lobby of the hotel several chess enthusiasts could be heard bragging, “I could beat Karpov with no problem”. “Oh yeah, I could beat both of them at the same time.” “That’s nothing, I could beat both of them blindfolded!”

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Finally, the hotel manager had had enough and threw them all out of the

But why?” a bystander asked.

“Because,” the manager replied “I hate chess nuts boasting by an open foyer.”

Capablanca was waiting in a train station in New York one day, with his coffee, newspaper and chess set, when a man approached him. Gesturing at the chess set, he asked if Capablanca cared for a game. Always delighted to play, Capablanca immediately set up the board, then removed his queen from the board, to even up the game.

Annoyed, the man blurted out, “Why did you do that? You don’t know me, I might beat you!” Unruffled, Capablanca replied, “Sir, if you could beat me, I would know you.”
NEW CYCLE. World Cup 2007 will start this Sunday at Khanty-Mansiyk, Russia with Darwin Laylo as the sole Philippine representative. He will join 128 others in the
knockout format who have qualified for the new two-year championship cycle from various elimination tournaments throughout this year.

Darwin is already assured of $6000 even if he loses in the first round. The champion will snare $120,000 and the right to play Veselin Topalov in an eight-game match next year. The winner will face the victor of the Kramnik- Anand match (to be played in 2008) in 2009 for undisputed World Champion.

BOY WONDER. The second PGMA Cup started yesterday at the Duty Free Fiesta Mall in Parañaque with three Cebuanos participating— Kimkim Yap, Voltaire Sevillano and Eden Diano. However, the limelight will focus on wonder boy 14-year-old Wesley So, the world’s strongest player in his age group with ELO 2531. So needs only one
more GM result, just like fellow International Masters Ronald Dableo and Jayson Gonzales, to become the country’s eighth grandmaster.

Eugene Torre and his fellow GMs Joey Antonio, Mark Paragua, Bong Villamayor and Nelson Mariano are also competing for the top prize of $6,000 out of a total purse of $40,000. Zhang Pengxiang, the winner of the Sixth Asia Chess Championship in Mandaue City in September and last year’s winner, has been tagged the favorite.

After the PGMA Cup will be the $30,000 Prospero Pichay Jr. Cup International Championship slated Dec. 1 to 7 at the Bayview Hotel in Manila. GM norms are also at stake here and I would not be surprised if we have three more GMs before the year ends.

Cepca news. The November monthly competition will be this Sunday at Deep Blue Café in SM City starting at 1 p.m.

The following trustees were elected during our elections last month-Jongjong Melendez, Maggi Dionson, Joe Atillo, Nato Casia, Marylou Pagarigan, Fabio Abucejo, Ben Dimaano, Tony Cabibil and myself.

You must all be present this Sunday as we will elect among ourselves the officers for the year 2008-10.

Friday, November 16, 2007

When grandmasters were still children

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I WROTE about child prodigies years ago and since then, there has been a new crop of grandmasters.

Most of these children have lived up to expectations and some are competing with the very best.

The youngest to become GM is still Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine at 12 years and 7 months in 2002. His rating is 2694, making him No. 24 in the world today.

In 2006, Parimarjan Negi of India achieved the title at 13 years and three months and 27 days. He competed in the Asian Individual tournament in Cebu almost two months ago with good results.

Five days older than Negi to become GM is Magnus Carlsen of Norway, who has a rating of 2714 and is now World No. 17. I think that he will be a world champion someday.

Bu Xianzhi of China is another potential world champion who snared the GM title at age 13 years 10 months in 1999 and is rated 2692.

Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan is rated No. 9 in the world with Elo 2746. He became a GM at age 14 years and 14 days in 2001.

Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine, Etienne Bacrot and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France reached GM status at 14 in 1997 and are rated at 2706, 2695 and 2573 respectively. Ruslan was Fide Champion in 2002.

Hungarian Peter Leko became a GM in1994 at age 14 and is way up there at No.5 in the world with Elo 2755. He is said to have an eidetic or photographic memoryBoth Yuri Kuzubov of Ukraine and Nguyen Ngoc Troung Son of Vietnam also achieved GM status in 2004 at 14. Yuri is labeled as the “New Karpov”.

The latest to capture the GM title last July 15 is Italian-American Fabiano Caruana at 14 years and 11 months, beating Hikaru Nakamura by two months and Bobby Fischer by six months.

Koneru Humpy of India holds the record for the youngest woman ever to become a grandmaster at 15 years, 1 month, 27 days, beating Judit Polgar’s previous record by three months.

Other notable boy GMs are Pentala Harikrishna of India and Alejandro Ramirez of Costa Rica both at age 15.

Polgar is by far the strongest female chess player in history. In 1991, she achieved the title of grandmaster at the age of 15 years and four months, three months younger than Bobby Fischer, when he got his 23 years before.

Quads Kim Steven Yap achieved an IM norm in the Asian Individual competition in Cebu almost two months ago.

As a tuneup to the Asean Grand Prix, which will be held later this month in Manila, Bogie Lim sponsored a double round robin tournament among four players in deep Blue Cafe and the final results are: Richard Natividad 4.5, Voltaire Sevillano 4, Yap 2 and Eden Diano 1.5.

XMOPI reunion. This group is exclusive to former employees of Mobil Oil Philippines, Inc., a multinational company that scaled down most of its operations in September 1983.

I don‘t know the real score but I think that it was a serious miscalculation and mistake on the part of top management to cease operations in the the Philippines which has been here since 1892 (remember “cock” kerosene ?). A lot of effort and opportunities were wasted as the business environment has improved since then as attested by the entry of new players.

The group will have a Grand Reunion in January 2009 in Cebu with attendees from all over the world including expatriates,

We will dicuss the details in a get-together meeting tomorrow at Ching’s Palace in Lahug at 10:30 a.m.-3pm. Participants are from Manila, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, USA and Cebu. If you were a former employee, you are invited to attend.

CEPCA NEWS. Our November handicapping tournament will be on Nov. 25 at the Deep Blue Café at 1pm. This is your last chance to qualify for the grand finals in December.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Little known chess stories

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

CURRENT world champion Viswanathan Anand learned the intricacies of the game here in the Philippines. In 1978, while still a boy, he arrived here with his father who was contracted as a consultant by the Philippine National Railways. His mentor was the late National Master Victor Cabrido.

Jose Rizal was well known as a skilled chess player. However, he had a hard time defeating Manuel Luz, his barkada and town mate, as he was distracted by the presence of Segunda Katigbak, Manuel‘s girlfriend and future wife.

Segunda was his puppy love of whom he wrote “She was not the most beautiful woman I had ever seen but I had never seen one more bewitching and alluring.”

Heber Bartolome is the voice and soul behind legendary protest folk-rock band Banyuhay, who gained immortality with the unforgettable phrase: “Tayo’y mga Pinoy, tayo’y hindi kano, wag kang mahihiya, kung ang ilong mo ay pango.” Did anyone of you know that when he was a struggling musician in Olongapo he was a chess hustler to help make ends meet? If I am not mistaken he married Maita Gomez, the highly principled model who became Miss Philippines in 1967. Maita, after a failed marriage to Carlos Perez-Rubio, who belonged to a prominent family, left a life of comfort and leisure to join the leftist underground movement. While still a model, the son of the King of Saudi Arabia reportedly had a crush on her.

Argentine GM Miguel Quinteros is married to a sister of former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz, whom he met at the 1973 Manila Interzonal. In 1979, he missed Round 1 of the Atlantic Open in Washington D.C. because he thought the tournament was in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

One of the founders of the Cebu Executives and Professional Association, Art Ynclino, defeated Russian champion Evgeni Vasiukov during a simul here in Cebu in 1979.

A few years earlier, Zaldy Ybañez, a nuclear engineer and former varsity player of Cebu Institute of Technology defeated world champion Tigran Petrosian also in a simul exhibition here.

During the 1974 Nice Chess Olympiad, Eugene Torre needed a draw against Robert Byrne to become a grandmaster. After an exchange of minor pieces, Torre offered a draw. The American stood up to consult team captain Pal Benko. He came back to his seat, pondered for a few minutes and then extended his hand to congratulate the first Asian Grandmaster—a phenomenon back then.

During the 1975 Marlboro Chess Classic in Manila IM Rosendo Balinas of the Philippines had a winning position against Yugoslav GM Svetozar Gligoric when suddenly Gligoric accepted a draw which Balinas claimed he never offered. An exchange of harsh words followed which led to the famous incident when GM Polugaevsky berated Balinas for lack of respect for grandmasters.

Corsica Masters. Japanese-American Hikaru Nakamura won the knockout rapid tournament and defeated an elite field. However what is of interest to us was that Cebuano IM Joseph Sanches tied for fourth to 17th with a 7/10 result. He impressed the field further by winning the blitz portion of the event, which attracted 130 players.

Chess poem. Rene Mckeene has collected most of my articles and has sent me a nice original poem which he composed. He is from Pampanga and is an avid chess player and painter.

Let’s Play Chess
Chess is my Leisure, my
Pleasure, and my Treasure;
Let’s play chess, Monsieur
And feel the thrill beyond measure;
Don’t mind all the Pressure,
Just grip your moves exact and sure;
Our future health is assured
No more Alzheimers to cure;
So let’s play chess, Monsieur.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Checkmate for chess-loving serial killer

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I RECEIVED some feedback about the Russian serial killer who kept a macabre tally of his victims by placing a coin on each square of the chessboard with a goal of killing 64 people.

Well, he has been convicted of 48 counts of murder after a trial that shocked and entranced the whole world and was even featured in National Geographic on cable. He has confessed to killing people over six years and said he had missed his goal.

At the beginning of his trial, Pichushkin complained of unfair treatment at being charged with only 48 murders. He claimed to have killed 63—13 more than Andrei Chikatilo, known as the “Rostov Ripper”, who was convicted of 50 murders in a 1992 trial.

Russians have watched the chessboard killer pacing up and down his glass box with a mixture of revulsion and horror, a fascination that began with a confession broadcast on national television last year.

Alexander Pichushkin sat in silence as a jury foreman read out 48 successive and unanimous guilty verdicts. He showed no emotion and no remorse.

In a televised confession shortly after his detention, he told police that “a life without murders was like a life without food.” He further said “It was a necessity you understand? I felt like a father to these people. I opened up a door for them to a new world.”

Pichuskin said he lured most of victims to the heavily wooded park by promising to share a bottle of vodka with them to mourn the death of his beloved dog. He then bludgeoned his victims to death, placing the empty vodka bottle in their shattered skulls.

Pichushkin, who worked at a small grocery store in south-west Moscow, was arrested in June on suspicion of killing a female colleague, whose body was found in Bitsyevskiy park the day before. The woman, Marina Moskaleva, had reportedly left Mr Pichushkin’s number with her son before she was killed.

Since Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, he has been sentenced to life in prison.

Leko-Ivanchuk. Peter Leko ranked fifth in the world with Elo 2755 and Vassily Ivanchuk currently No. 2 with Elo 2787 played an exhibition rapid match in Mukachevo, a small town located in Western Ukraine. Four games were played on each day, Oct. 26,27 and 28.

After eight rounds Ivanchuk was leading by two full points with 2 wins and 6 draws but Leko managed to equalize by snaring Games 9 and 11. The tiebreak Game 13 was drawn but Ivanchuk won Game 14 and the match.

Lékó is an extremely solid player and is considered to be one of the most difficult players in the world to defeat. On the other hand, Ivanchuk’s playing style is unpredictable and highly original, making him a threat to any chess player.

BLINDFOLD. The Bilbao Blindfold Chess World Cup featured recently the top players of the world namely Veselin Topalov, Judit Polgar and the future and rising young stars, Magnus Carlsen (16), Sergey karjakin (18), Bu Xianzhi (22) and Pentala Harikrishna (21). The event was a double round robin on a rapid format.

I am interested in this match as during the voting for the Chess Oscar this year, Bu Xianzhi was one of my top nominees and he has shown in this event that he has the potential to be world champion.

This tournament is unique in several ways—play is by blindfold, the “Sofia” rule is in effect, meaning no draws are allowed without the arbiter’s consent and three points are awarded for a win and 1 for a draw.

Final results after 10 rounds: 1.) Xianzhi (China, 2692, 21) 2.) Karjakin (Ukraine, 2694, 17) 3.) Carlsen (Norway, 2714, 16) 4.) Polgar (Hungary, 2708, 12 5.) Topalov (Bulgaria, 2769, 9) 6.) Harikrishna (India, 2668, 6.)