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.

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