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.

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