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.)

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