Friday, December 12, 2008

Sinulog team chess tournament

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

OUR Club has been in existence for the past 18 years or so and although we manage to have an event during Sinulog time, next year’s happening will be a big one, thanks to the help of Councilor Jack Jakosalem, the City Council and the Cebu City Sports Commission.

We are happy to announce that there will be an open team tournament during next year’s Sinulog. It will be a seven-round Swiss format with time control at one hour per player, play to finish.

Playing dates are two rounds on Jan. 9, three rounds on the 10th and the final two rounds on the 11th. Venue will be announced later.

Team composition will be four regular players and, if you wish, an alternate, although it is not necessary. A team can only have one titled player (GM, IM, FM, NM).

Scoring will be based on the Match Point system with a win worth two points (3.5-1.5,3-1 or 2.5-1.5); a draw, one point (2-2); and a loss, zero.

The following Olympiad and Fide rules will be strictly followed: 1.) Ringing of cell phone will also mean an automatic disqualification. 2.) Prior agreement to fix the match will be nullified and the penalty will be determined by a committee composed of current Cepca president Renato Casia as the chairman, with Joe Atillo and Jun Olis as members.

Other guidelines in effect are: teams formed by any Cepca member must include the member as a regular player, not as an alternate. Schools who are interested to join can invite a titled player as guest and all the rest must be students of that school. Out-of-town teams and companies are also welcome.

Tournament arbiters are Marvin Ruelan (Fide arbiter) and Bob Tojong.

Prizes are: P25,000, trophy and gold medals for the champion; P15,000 and silver medals for the runner-up; P10,000 and bronze medals for the third placer. The fourth placer will get P5,000, while the fifth and sixth placers will get P3,000 and P1,000, respectively. Board 1 to Board 4 winners will receive P1,000, each.

The registration per team is P1,000 and we also urge the teams to come in proper uniforms.

Lapu-Lapu Festival. A selection of Cepca’s and Lapu-Lapu City’s best woodpushers will be slugging it out for the top prize in the 2008 Lapu-Lapu City X-Mas Chess Invitational this Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Gun-ob National High School.

This five-round Swiss system tournament is open to all Cepcans and Lapu-Lapu players only. Cepca’s Dante Arguelles, Jojo Muralla, Mandy Baria, Maggi Dionson, Joe Atillo, Gideon Lauta, Felix Poloyapoy, Jun Quidlat and Atty. Boy Tumulak have already pledged to join the tournament. Other interested members may contact former Cepca president and tournament director Jun Olis at 340-1355 or 0910-347-6907.

Prizes in kind up to the 10th place are provided, while trophies for the first three places are donated by the Lapu-Lapu City Sports Commission.

Talisay City Chess. The monthly tournament for December will take place at the South Central Square, Lawaan tomorrow and Sunday. Format is seven rounds Swiss and time control is 30 minutes per player, play to finish.

Attractive prizes are at stake and registration is free for kiddies. Junior players will pay P50, while regular players will pay P80. There is a 50 percent discount for club members.

The tournament starts at 10 a.m. for kiddies and at 1 p.m. for the regular players and juniors. The November champion was Michael Pinar and the kiddies winner was Diego Claro.

You can register by texting former Cepca president and tournament director Manny Manzanares at 0915-720-5457 and pay on site.

The Christmas party for Cepca members and their families will be on Dec. 21 at my residence in Mabolo. We will also have a blitz tournament.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Little known episode about Bobby Fischer

Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

THE 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany is over. Although I would like to write more about this event as it is one of the best Olympiads ever (next to Manila 1992!) all my articles for November have been about this event and it is about time to dwell on another matter.

During the wake of the late Job Tabada, father of Jobannie who is one of the strongest chess-playing member of Cepca now based in Dubai, there was a discussion among the club members about the late Bobby Fischer and what happened to his estimated fortune of P140 million, not including the gold holdings which he left in an Icelandic bank. Also not included is the royalty from the forthcoming movie, Bobby Fischer Goes to War set for release in 2010.

From 2000 to 2002, Fischer lived in Baguio City. He resided in the same compound as Eugenio Torre, a close friend.

Fischer played tennis at the Baguio Country Club, where he met a woman named Marilyn Young. Together, they had a daughter named Jinky, born in 2002 (or 2001) at the Saint Louis University, Baguio City, Sacred Heart Hospital.

The money is part of the prize ($3.8million) that he got for the rematch against Boris Spassky in Sveti Stefan and Belgrade in 1992 that was not allowed by the United Nations due to the civil war in Bosnia. This was the reason why he was wanted by the United States government. His passport was revoked and he was arrested in Japan.

With the help of some Icelandic chess friends, Fischer was able to obtain an Icelandic passport and was flown out of Japan in March 2005

The money was held for a long time in a Swiss bank account but the bank refused to deal with Fischer shortly after he moved to Iceland, and this money was transferred there (Iceland).

Although it has been mentioned that Bobby married Miyoko Watai, the President of the Japanese Chess Association, his daughter has precedence. Also, in an interview, Bobby was quoted in German television as saying that he has never been married.

“I have with me a copy of the passports, pictures and bank accounts of Fischer’s seven-year-old daughter,” Sammy Estimo, lawyer of Marilyn Young, said. “I believe we have substantial proof to back the claims of Marilyn Young and her daughter Jinky. They even stayed with him in Iceland for three weeks in September 2005.”

Also Bobby was in contact with them almost daily via cell phone and sent them monthly euro remittances.

The deadline for receiving claims to the estate of the deceased chess legend was May 17, 2008, or three months after Fischer died of renal failure on January 17, this year. The Probate Court had already received the claim folder of Jinky Young before this date.

I still don’t know by now if Jinky has already received her rightful share of the inheritance as this whole episode happened early this year. There has been no news and we probably won’t know unless the parties concerned would reveal it to the public. And then there is the IRS who is also trying to recover money from Fischer in back taxes.

In Wikipedia, it was mentioned that the dispute between Jinky Young and Watai was settled amicably in the Icelandic courts.

CORUS 2009. One of the most prestigious tournament in the chess calendar is Corus in Holland in January next year.

Wesley So has been invited to play in the C group where he is seeded No.1. If he makes good, he will be invited to big time tournaments all over the world especially in Europe and can be a multi-millionaire in a short time.

His closest adversaries will be David Howell of England and Abhijeet Gupta of India who played in Mandaue last year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Armenia keeps title; John Paul Gomez is 9th GM

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE 38th Olympiad took place from Nov. 12th to 25th in Dresden, Saxony, Germany. One hundred and 56 from 152 nations participated including all the top players except world champion Viswanathan Anand of India.

Armenia defeated China to capture the gold and retain its title, while Israel beat the Netherlands to take the silver with the same results of 2.5-1.5. The biggest story were the Americans who demolished the Ukrainian Super GMs with an impressive 3.5-0.5 destruction. The USA thus grabbed the bronze medal despite being seeded 10th at the start.

The favorites Russia, Ukraine and China who were seeded first to third at the start missed out.

In the women’s section, Ukraine and Georgia equally finished first with 18 match points, with Ceorgia taking the gold. Russia and China, who were expected to dominate the women section, did not win a medal. Our women’s team, initially seeded 51st won its last game 4-0 vs. Mexico to finish a respectable 48th place.

Although we won our last game against a strong Argentina team, 2.5-1.5, the men’s team had a sorry 46th place finish with earlier losses vs. China, Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Reoublic.

However, the big stories are John Paul Gomez, who got a 20-game GM norm in this Olympiad to become our ninth and newest GM and Cheradee Camacho getting a Women International Master (WIM) title.

Gomez scored an impressive five wins, five draws and one loss to score 7.5/11 points while Camacho, only 14, had seven wins, two draws and only one loss for a sensational 8/10.

Here is a reaction from one of my readers. Although it was sent before the tournament finished, it is a reflection of most of the sentiments of our chess players.

“I think it’s still a bit premature for me to comment on the performance of our men’s chess team to the Dresden Olympiad as there are still a few more rounds to go as of this writing. However, I’m pretty sure that it does not escape most chess-loving people’s attention that we did not send our best players, except for Wesley So.

If Russia, which has probably more than a hundred strong players to choose from, sent only their best players, then I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t. Other countries, like Armenia, Ukraine, China, USA, Bulgaria, even Vietnam, also sent only their best.

Our method of selecting the composition of our team based on a tournament only among local players should probably be looked into. It should be based on performance in international competitions preceding the Olympiad. Or if not, select only the players who have extensive experiences in the Olympiad and other international
tournaments and who have high ELO ratings. A team composed of So, Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio, Mark Paragua plus another strong and experienced player (not Bong Villamayor, which I have predicted to be the weakest player in our team) would have probably performed better.

The Olympiad is only for the best. I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me.”— Joel Dihayco, Lapu-Lapu City.

Here is a comment from the pinoychess.informe website: “E. Torre, Asia’s first grandmaster, was reduced to begging to be included in the team but still was ignored. He
was not given the respect he fully deserves.”

Another one “thinks that it was a wrong judgment more than anything else. I for one, believes that we could have sent a stronger team had we sent Torre to the Olympiad.”

I agree entirely that the main reason of our dismal performance is the absence of Eugene. However, it is not the fault of the NCFP or Pichay but Eugene for not participating in the eliminations, in which he could have easily qualified.

Armenia keeps title; John Paul Gomez is 9th GM

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE 38th Olympiad took place from Nov. 12th to 25th in Dresden, Saxony, Germany. One hundred and 56 from 152 nations participated including all the top players except world champion Viswanathan Anand of India.

Armenia defeated China to capture the gold and retain its title, while Israel beat the Netherlands to take the silver with the same results of 2.5-1.5. The biggest story were the Americans who demolished the Ukrainian Super GMs with an impressive 3.5-0.5 destruction. The USA thus grabbed the bronze medal despite being seeded 10th at the start.

The favorites Russia, Ukraine and China who were seeded first to third at the start missed out.

In the women’s section, Ukraine and Georgia equally finished first with 18 match points, with Ceorgia taking the gold. Russia and China, who were expected to dominate the women section, did not win a medal. Our women’s team, initially seeded 51st won its last game 4-0 vs. Mexico to finish a respectable 48th place.

Although we won our last game against a strong Argentina team, 2.5-1.5, the men’s team had a sorry 46th place finish with earlier losses vs. China, Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Reoublic.

However, the big stories are John Paul Gomez, who got a 20-game GM norm in this Olympiad to become our ninth and newest GM and Cheradee Camacho getting a Women International Master (WIM) title.

Gomez scored an impressive five wins, five draws and one loss to score 7.5/11 points while Camacho, only 14, had seven wins, two draws and only one loss for a sensational 8/10.

Here is a reaction from one of my readers. Although it was sent before the tournament finished, it is a reflection of most of the sentiments of our chess players.

“I think it’s still a bit premature for me to comment on the performance of our men’s chess team to the Dresden Olympiad as there are still a few more rounds to go as of this writing. However, I’m pretty sure that it does not escape most chess-loving people’s attention that we did not send our best players, except for Wesley So.

If Russia, which has probably more than a hundred strong players to choose from, sent only their best players, then I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t. Other countries, like Armenia, Ukraine, China, USA, Bulgaria, even Vietnam, also sent only their best.

Our method of selecting the composition of our team based on a tournament only among local players should probably be looked into. It should be based on performance in international competitions preceding the Olympiad. Or if not, select only the players who have extensive experiences in the Olympiad and other international
tournaments and who have high ELO ratings. A team composed of So, Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio, Mark Paragua plus another strong and experienced player (not Bong Villamayor, which I have predicted to be the weakest player in our team) would have probably performed better.

The Olympiad is only for the best. I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me.”— Joel Dihayco, Lapu-Lapu City.

Here is a comment from the pinoychess.informe website: “E. Torre, Asia’s first grandmaster, was reduced to begging to be included in the team but still was ignored. He
was not given the respect he fully deserves.”

Another one “thinks that it was a wrong judgment more than anything else. I for one, believes that we could have sent a stronger team had we sent Torre to the Olympiad.”

I agree entirely that the main reason of our dismal performance is the absence of Eugene. However, it is not the fault of the NCFP or Pichay but Eugene for not participating in the eliminations, in which he could have easily qualified.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The most popular sport on the planet

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IF YOU have any doubts as to what is the most popular sport in the planet, go no further than the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany. The official website has registered an average 60 million hits everyday and is expected to reach 80 million as we approach the final rounds. Daily visitors also average 31,000.

This is not surprising as Fide has estimated that the total chess players all over the world is about 700 million . The game is particularly popular in the Philippines and it
seems that all chess players talk about here in Cebu is Wesley So and company.

Unlike the previous Olympiads where results were based on board points, in Dresden, results are based on matches with a win worth two points, a draw worth one point and no point for a loss. After six rounds, the RP men’s team has three wins, one draw and two losses or 7 points. We are tied with 16 other countries from 41st to 57th place.

After the sixth round, Armenia and Russia were in the lead with 11 points, followed by Germany 1, Ukraine, India, Israel, France, China and Romania. In the Women’s section, China beat Hungary to take a two-point lead over Russia, Netherlands, Ukraine, USA and Poland , which are in second place.

Let’s review the individual Men’s results. Bong Villamayor at Board 1 has only a point to show after four rounds. While this is understandable as he has to play the best player from the opposing team, I believe that Eugene Torre could have done better. Wesley So had two wins and three draws, Jayson Gonzales is off with only half point in four games, John Paul Gomez is the best scorer with three wins and three draws, while Darwin Laylo has two wins, a draw and two losses.

The Women’s team has a star in Chardine Cheradee Camacho at Board 4, who had four wins and two draws, while others were struggling with Catherine Perena managing only a point, Shercila Cua had two, Daisy Rivera with one and Christy Lamiel Bernales with three points.

The women’s team has 5.0 points on two wins over Yemen (3.5-05) and New Zealand; a draw with Lithuania (2.0-2.0); and three losses to Greece (1.5-2.5) and Belarus (0.5-3.5) and Sweden (1.5-2.5).

Our Men’s opponent in the seventh round is Belgium, which is a relatively weak team with no GMs and composed of the following players, all IMs: Richard Polaczek (2419), Efrem Cekro (2419), FM Cemil Gulbas (2371), IM Daniyal Saibolatov (2360) and IM Bruno Laurent (2370).

Here are the Men’s round by round team performance: We lost to No.3 rated China, 1.5-2.5, with Wesley scoring a major upset of Ni Hua (2710); defeated Algeria, 2.5-1.5; won over Monaco, 2.5-1.5; drew with Greece, 2-2; edged Iran, 2.5-1.5 and lost to powerhouse Spain, 1-3.

When the Philippines found out that its sixth round opponent will be Spain, the 15-year-old So asked team captain Eugene Torre if he could play Alexei Shirov (2726), the Board 1 player of Spain. Non-playing team captain Eugene Torre and GM Bong Villamayor obliged.

“It’ll be exciting to play Alexei,” said So, who will be taking Bong’s place on Board 1. “It’ll be a nice opportunity to take on one of the best players in the world on this stage.”

So showed maturity with a fighting draw against the 2007 finalist of the World Cup.

SINLUOG CHESS. Cepca is planning to hold an Open Team tournament this Sinulog 2009 and we hope to finalize this with the sponsor within next week. Each team will consist of four regular players and one alternate.

A team must only have only one titled player and must have a Cepca member as a regular player (not an alternate). An exception though are out of town teams who can play without a Cepca member.

If this tournament will materialize, the total pot money is P63,000 with P25,000 going to the champion.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chess Olympiad trivia

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE 38th Chess Olympiad has just started in Dresden, Germany and our first round opponent is the Physically Disabled team (IPCA) whose members are all International Masters.

To recall, we last played IPCA back in Calvia 2004 and it was a draw at 2-2. This IPCA team is much stronger now. Here are some interesting tidbits from previous Olympiads.

The Australian Women team that competed in Calvia 2004 in Spain featured three players who represented another country earlier in their careers. The three players were Arianne Caoli ([Philippines), Anastasia Sarokina (Belarus) and Engela Eriksson (Sweden).

In Turin 2006 English Daniel Gormally punched Armenian Levon Aronian in a jealous dispute over the Fil-Aussie beauty Caoli. This Olympiad has three teams that does not represent a country: IPCA (disabled), IBCA (blind) and ICSC (deaf) .

In Yerevan 1996, IBCA, relying on a delicate sense of touch and hearing, made a lot of noise after a 4-0 win over Guernsey.

In Moscow 1994. IBCA Women team shut out Singapore 3-0 thereby proving the not only love is blind but chess as well.

During the 1937 Olympiad, Dutch player Salo Landua fell asleep at the board against Belgian player Arthur Dunkelblum. The Belgian sportingly shook Landau by the arm to wake him up and suggested a draw which Landau accepted.

Former World Champion Tigran “The Iron” Petrosian played in nine Olympiads between 1958 and1974 and his only loss was to Robert Huebner at Skopje 1972. When he was told that the game was shown live on TV, he said “If I had known that, I would have smashed the clock.” He scored 79 wins, 50 draws and only one loss in his entire Olympiad career.

In Dubai 1986, Guatemala was represented by four brothers all surname Juarez. One of the brothers, Carlos, was Cepca’s guest in 1990 who played a simul here.

In Calvia 2004 USA was represented by six ex-Soviet players: Onischuk, Shabalov, Goldin, Kaidanov, Novikov and Gulko.

From 1956 to 2000 Lajos Portisch played in 20 chess Olympiads, more than anyone else. Eugene Torre would have equaled this record if he was playing in this Olympiad. However he is a non-playing captain of the Philippine team as he opted not to play in the eliminations.

In Leipzig 1960, Fischer had a won game vs. Miguel Najdorf but made a mistake and the game was drawn. In disgust, he swept the pieces of the board and Najdorf said “You will never play in South America again.”

In Buenos Aires 1939, two brothers met for the first time, each playing for a different country. J. Janowsky of Ukraine was reading the list of participants and was surprised and eager to meet one Abe Janowsky who was playing for Canada. He showed the photo of his father and Abe exclaimed “That’s my father too!” They happily embraced each other.

In Munich 1958, Spain was playing the USA and Toran won against Bisguier. Toran said with a smile “I’m so happy, it’s a nice present for my birthday.” “Its alright” said the American politely “Today happens to be my birthday too.”

In Istanbul 2000 two Philippine teams came to compete, even arriving on the same plane. They belonged to the group of Campomanes and Art Borjal. Fide decided that the Campomanes group was the official representative of the Philippines.

In Dubrovnik 1950, Chaude de Silans was the first woman to play in the Olympiad. When asked why men play better than women, she replied “Women can’t play chess because you have to keep quite for five hours.”

In Lugano 1968 the late Cebuano Glicerio “Asing” Badilles played for Hongkong, scored 11.5/14 and received a special award. He was an adviser of Cepca.


Friday, November 7, 2008

World Chess Olympiad

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE 38th Chess Olympiad Dresden 2008 will take place next week from Nov. 12 to 25 at the International Congress Center. One hundred and 58 men’s and 119 women’s teams are Olympiad records in participation.

The Philippine men’s team is composed of Wesley So (2610), John Paul Gomez (2519), Darwin Laylo (2507), Jayson Gonzales (2469) and Bong Villamayor (2468). Team captain is Eugene Torre. Our team is ranked 38th, while our women are in the middle at 51st.

The women’s team has Catherine Pereña, Shercila Cua, Daisy Rivera, Chardine Camacho and Christy Lamiel Bernales. Team captain is Cesar Caturla who just texted me that everything is ready and they will be leaving on Tuesday next week.

It will be recalled that GMs Torre and Joey Antonio opt not to participate in the eliminations and for the first time in a decade they are out. Mark Paragua also did not make the team.

Top seeds in the men’s section are Russia with Vladimir Kramnik (2772), Alexander Morozevich (2787), Peter Svidler (2727), Alexander Grischuk (2719) and Dmitry Jakovenko (2737); Ukraine with Vassily Ivanchuk (2786), Sergey Karjakin (2730), Eljanov Pavel (2720), Zahar Efimenko (2680), Andrei Volokitin (2659); and China with

Wang Yue (2736), Bu Xianghi (2714), Ni Hua (2710), Wang Hao (2696), Li Chao (2622).

The Women’s top seeds are also Russia, Ukraine and China.

If we Cepcans were to form a team among our Class A members with an average of Elo 2000 we would be rated 127 ahead of such countries as Hong Kong, Pakistan, Chinese Taipei, Afghanistan and most African countries etc.

Another major change in the Olympiad was the reduction of 14 playing rounds to 11. The time control is 40 moves in 1 1/2 hour and 30 minutes play to finish with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting on move 1.

Fide and the organizers will also implement some new regulations. Being late and refusal to shake hands will now mean an automatic loss of the game. Draws are not allowed before the completion of Black’s 30th move.

Prior agreement between players as to the result of individual games or of a match shall be penalized. The points earned by it shall be annulled and the matter shall be referred to the Appeals Committee for the fixing of the penalty.

Only players who have played a minimum of eight games shall be eligible for Board Prizes.

The Philippines has been a participant of the Olympiad since1956. The highest finish we have achieved was in Thessaloniki 1998 when we captured seventh place.

Eugene Torre in Board 1 won the bronze twice in LaValletta 1980 and Dubai 1986 and silver in Nice in 1974 behind Anatoly Karpov where he became GM. Rico Mascariñas snared the gold in Board 2 in Lucerne 1982 with six wins, three draws and no loss. Glenn Bordonada also got the Gold in Board 4 in Buenos Aires 1978 with five wins, four draws and no loss.

Eric Gloria, likewise, won the silver as a reserve in the Manila 1992, while Ferdie Donguines got the bronze also as a reserve in Moscow 1994.

ECONG. The 2008 US Open, the biggest tournament in America was recently won by Cebuano IM Enrico Sevillano, 40, a former protegee of Bombi Aznar, over a field totaling 379 players. As a result he is on the cover of the November issue of Chess Life, the official publication of the United States Chess Federation. Congratulations!

The Shell Grand Finals will start tomorrow at SM Megamall featuring 44 of the country’s top Juniors and Kiddies. Cebuano participants are Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano of SWU and Econg’s nephew, Marq Gabrielle Balbona of USJR in the Kiddies section and Venancio Loyola Jr. of USJR and Bernardo Ruelo Jr. of UC in the Juniors. First place prizes are P30,000 for Juniors and P20,000 for kiddies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Former world champions

THE world championship has just concluded in Bonn, Germany. The prize pot was 1.5 million Euros to be divided equally between the players and the format was best of 12 games under classical time controls.

Vishwanathan Anand of India retained his title against challenger Vladimir Kramnik of Russia by drawing Game 11 for a final score of 6.5-4.5. It was over after 24 moves of a Sicilian Najdorf.

Here is the review of the 10 games thus far; Game 1, draw, 32 moves, Exchanged Slav; Game 2, draw 32 moves, Nimzo Indian Saemisch; Game 3, Anand wins with black, 41 moves, Queen’s Gambit Meran; Game 4, draw, 29 moves Queen’s Gambit Declined; Game 5, Anand wins again with black, 35 moves Queen’s Gambit Meran; Game 6, Anand wins with white, 47 moves, Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2; Game 7, draw,36 moves, Slav Defense; Game 8,draw,39 moves, Queen’s Gambit

Declined; Game 9,draw, 45 moves Anti-Meran Gambit ;Game 10, Kramnik wins with white, 29 moves, Nimzo-Indian.

A few days ago we had a get-together with some Cepca members and since the topic of my three previous articles has been this world championship , there was a suggestion to feature past champions as they are not common knowledge even among chess players. Here they are.

Wilhem Steinitz was an Austrian and was the first modern champion from 1886 to 94. He defeated then leading players Adolf Andersen, Henry Bird and Zukertort. He is called the “Father of modern chess.”

Emmanuel Lasker of Germany had the longest reign from 1894 to 1921.He is still generally regarded as one of the strongest players ever. His Ph.D thesis is regarded as one of the foundations of modern algebra.

Jose Capablanca from Cuba, was world champion from 1921 to 1927. He is also considered one of the greatest chess player of all time.

Alexander Alekhine (USSR/France) in 1927 became champion by defeating Capablanca and lost to Max Euwe (Holland) in 1935, but regained his crown in a 1937 rematch.

The 1948 World Championship was played to determine a new world champion following the death of Alexander Alekhine in 1946. The tournament was now managed by Fide. Mikhail Botvinnik won the five-player championship tournament (Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky and Euwe), thus beginning the era of Soviet domination for more than 20 years. Botvinnik reigned up to 1957.

Vasily Smyslov (1957-58), Mikhael Tal (1960-62), Tigran Petrosian (1963-69) and Boris Spassky (1969-72) all Soviet players, were champions respectively until American prodigy Bobby Fischer crushed Spassky in the famous “Battle of the Century” in Reyjavik, Iceland.

Fischer lost his title via forfeit to Anatoly Karpov in Manila who subsequently held on to his crown for 10 years. (1975-1985). Garry Kasparov finally became champion from 1985-1993. Karpov reigned again (1993-99) after Kasparov left Fide to form the Professional Chess Association.

The next champions were Alexander Khalifman, (Russia ,1999-2000); Anand (2000-2002); Ruslan Ponomariov, (Ukraine 2002-2004); Rustam Kasimdzhanov, (Uzbekistan ,2004-2005); Veselin Topalov, (Bulgaria 2006); Vladimir Kramnik (2006-2007); Anand (2007-present).

The women also has a long history of world championship and the first was Vera Menchik, of the United Kingdom, who was No.1 from 1927-44.

Other past champions were Ludmilla Rodenko (USSR, 1950-53); Elizabeth Bikova, (USSR, 1953-56), Olga Rubzowa, (USSR 1956-58);Elizabeth Bikova (USSR,1958-62); Nona Gaprendashvili (Georgia 1962-78); Maya Chiburdanitze(Georgia 1978-91); Xie Jun (China ,1991-96); Susan Polgar (Hungary 1996-99); Xie Jun (1999-2001); Zhu Chen (China, 2001-2004); Antoanette Stepanova (Bulgaria, 2004-06); Xu Hua (China, 2006-2008); Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia -present).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Anand, the virtual world champion

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

AFTER fighting draws in the first two games, Anand went to town with magnificent victories in the third, fifth and sixth games to lead 4.5-1.5 and crown himself virtual 2008 world chess champion. Unless Kramnik pulls out a rabbit or two in the succeeding games, this is probably the most one-sided championship ever in the history of the game reminiscent of the Fischer vs. Spassky match in 1972.

It will be recalled that Spassky played his best chess after trailing Fischer but can Kramnik do the same? He is performing at a rating of 2590 while Anand is going berserk with a 2960 performance.

Here is the rundown so far: Game 1 draw, 32 moves, Exchanged Slav; Game 2, draw 32 moves, Nimzo Indian Saemisch; Game 3, Anand wins with black, 41 moves, Queen’s Gambit Meran; Game 4, draw, 29 moves Queen’s Gambit Decline; Game 5, Anand wins again with black, 35 moves Queen’s Gambit Meran; Game 6, Anand wins with white, 47 moves, Nimzo Indian 4. Qc2.

The World championship is played in Bonn, Germany from Oct.14 to Nov.2 and is Best of 12 games. Prize pot is 1.5 million Euros to be split equally between the players. It means that the Indian needs only two points in the next six games to be crowned World Champion for the moment, and with the way he is playing, it is like duck thrown to water.

It will not be for long though as he has yet to meet the winner of the Veselin Topalov vs. Gata Kamsky match next year, under the rules promulgated by Fide (Read my previous article in my blog, “Understanding the messy world championship.”)

It seems that Anand is better prepared as he has introduced several novelties in the games. This is most surprising as according to experts, the Russian has a better
team of seconds, led by Peter Leko.

Wake up Kramnik! It is sad to watch but the Russian is a proud man and I’m sure he will go down fighting

The World Youth championship is currently on-going in Vung Tau, Vietnam and the Philippines has sent a big delegation.

After four rounds, we have mixed results. Patrick de leon Haince and Kyle Ochoa snared three and two points, respectively, in the 8-Under; Paulo Bersamina has two points in the 10-Under; Angelo Vince Medina has three points in the 12-Under,better than Jerad Docena’s 2 and John Ray Batucan’s 1.5.

Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Prince Mark Aquino have three and one point, respectively, in the 14-Under. John Alcon Datu and Haridas Pascua scored 2.5 and 2 in the 16-Under and Carl Victor Ochoa snared 2.5 in the 18-Under.

For the Girls, Revita Samantha Glo managed only a single point in the 10 Under; Rowelyn Acedo has two in the 12-Under; while Chardine Cheradee Camacho, Jan Jodylin Fronda and Cherry Ann Mejia managed three, 2.5 and two, respectively, in the 14-Under.

Christy Lamiel Bernales has the best performance with 3.5 and Jedara Docena scored 2.5 in the 16-Under.

More than 800 players from 70 federations are playing in this Fide event.

The Shell Grand Finals will be held next month from Nov 8 to 9 at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong and the Cebuano representatives are Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano, 9 years old of SWU, and Venancio Loyola of USJR, 19.

Kyle is champion of the Shell Youth Active Chess Championship (2008) SM City, Cebu; Six-time champion of Cepca Kiddies Monthly Tournaments in 2007 and 2008;1st runnerup, Manila Age Group Tournament for 8-Under category. He is a nephew of IM Econg Sevillano.

Loyola is first runnerup of Junior Division, Shell Active Chess Championship (2008), SM Iloilo City; first runnerup, Junior Division, Shell Active Chess Championship (2006); Champion, Kiddies Division, Shell Active Chess Championship (2003); Milo Gold medalist (2005).

Friday, October 17, 2008

World chess championships

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE World chess championship between Viswanathan Anand,39 and Vladimir Kramnik ,33, started last Tuesday in Bonn ,Germany and will conclude on Nov. 2 excluding tiebreaks. The prize of 1.5 million Euros will be split equally between the players.

Two games have been played thus far, both draws. Although, a pawn down Anand had an effortless first game with black in an Exchange Slav and surprised Kramnik with 1.d4 in his first white game. Anand was pressing for a win but accepted the
draw offer after being in time trouble.

The match is best of 12 games under Classical time controls. Time per player is two hours, with 1 hour added after move 40, 15 minutes added after move 60, and 30 seconds increment per move starting from move 61.

It will be a battle of technique, concentration, imagination, nerves determination, attitude, and above all else, preparation.

If the score is equal , up to three rounds of tiebreaks will be played. The first round will be four rapid games. Time control for these games is 25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. If the score is still equal after the four rapid games, two blitz games will be played (5 minutes plus 10 seconds per move).

If the score is still equal after the two blitz games, a single Armageddon game will be played (6 minutes for white, 5 minutes for black, without any increments and black declared champion in case of a draw).

In their head-to-head matches, Anand is ahead, 19-13, with 82 games ending in draws. They have played 65 games in rapid and blitz with Anand winning 15 and losing 7. An interesting point is that Kramnik has never won a game against Anand in Classical time controls with black.

Kramnik performs better in matches as opposed to tournament play and has won all of his one-on-one championship matches against Garry Kasparov in 2000, Peter Leko in 2004 and Veselin Topalov in their unification match in Elista 2006.

Kasparov thinks that Kramnik is the slight favorite.

Anand performs better in tournament play as opposed to matches and is superb in rapid and blitz matches in case of tiebreaks. He was Fide champion in 2000-2002 and unified champion in Mexico in 2007.

In a match at this level, seconds are critical in match preparation and Kramnik seems to have the advantage. He has Sergei Rublevsky,Laurent Fressinet and most important Peter Leko.

Anand has Peter Nielsen, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Radoslav Wojtaszek and Surya Shekhar Ganguly. There are talks that he has received some inputs from Boy Wonder Magnus Carlsen.

Kramnik: “I am very happy to have Peter (Leko) in my team. It is difficult to find any better candidate. First of all he has match experience, secondly he is a very strong chess player—I can really feel immediately the difference—and also we have very good personal relations, apart from the fact that we played a match, and a pretty dramatic one, but it never spoiled our relations.”

Anand: “(Peter Leko) was working with me for my match against Karpov, but it has been like ten years since we last worked together. For me it is normal—Peter had an interesting offer and he considered it.”

Kramnik on the effect of the live video broadcast by Foidos on his concentration: “I will try to comb my hair a little better for the games.” Anand: “I don’t think that Maria Sharapova should be too worried about competition from us.”

TALISAY. Allerie Somosot was the October winner with Yves Fiel, Rex Baylosis and Ryan Villacorta as runners up. Kiddies winner was Roy Jason Ortueste.

More signs of a chess addict

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

SEVERAL months ago I wrote an article about signs of being addicted to chess. Engr. Ed Beronio of Cavite, who regularly read this column, sent me additional information on this subject. Here are his notes on this matter.

During sex, you and your partner use blitz time controls. You deleted Windows from your from your PC to have space for your chess data bases.

You ask new acquaintances if they know how to play chess. You ask all chess players, “What is your rating?”

You kick out your teddy bear in exchange of your chess pieces. You own more chess clocks than watches.

You keep a chess set in your office or in your back pack. You think the Olympics take place every two years.

You pay more attention to a chess game in a movie than the story. When asked about that movie you say the white square was not on the right corner of the board.

You walk to the chess section of any bookstore. You call your girlfriend a “novelty.”

You drop everything if you hear someone say “Hi Bobby” behind your back. You have checkered underwear with a sign “It’s your move” on the front.

You end your e-mails with “P.S. It’s your move 1.e4,” hoping to start a game. You explain that you live one block up or one block down or like a knight or bishop move.

You own more books about chess than any other subject. You read all this and did not laugh.

TOP PLAYERS. The World chess federation has recently released its last quarter ratings for this year. Veselin Topalov has taken the No. 1 position due to his excellent performance in the Bilbao tournament last month .

1.) Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria, 2791), 2.) Alexander Morozevich (Russia, 2787) 3.) Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2786) 4.) Magnus Carlsen (Norway, 2786) 5.) Viswanatan Anand (India, 2783), 6.) Vladimir Kramnik (Russia, 2772) 7.) Levon Aronian (Armenia, 2757) 8.) Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan, 2751) 9.) Peter Leko (Hungary, 2747), 10.) Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia, 2737).

Here are the top Women players 1.) Judit Polgar (Hungary, 2711) 2.) Koneru Humpy (India, 2618) 3.) Hou Yifan (China, 2578), 4.) Xie Jun (China, 2574), 5.) Pia Cramling (Sweden, 2550), 6.) Antoanetta Stefafanova (Bulgaria, 2548), 7.) Marie Sebag (France, 2533) 8.) Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia, 2525) 9.) Xue Zhao (China, 2518), 10.) Elina Danielian (Armenia, 2513).

The top Juniors (20-Under) and their rating and ages are: 1.) Magnus Carlsen (2786, 18) 2.) Sergey Karjakin Ukraine (2730, 18) 3.) Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (France, 2716, 18) 4.) Wang Hao (China, 2696, 19) 5.) Fabiano Caruana (Italy, 2640, 16), 6.) Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan, 2631, 20), 7.) Yuri Kuzubov (Ukraine, 2622, 18), 8.) Li Chao (China, 2622, 19) 9.) Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia, 2616, 18) 10.) Jianchao Zhou (China, 2612, 20).

Wesley So of the Philippines, who will be 15 this month is rated No.11 with a rating of 2610 and is the world’s youngest super GM.

The top girls (20-Under ) and their ages are: 1.) Hou Yifan (China, 2578, 14), 2.) Anna Muzychuk (Slovenia, 2508, 18) 3.) Katyrena Lahno (Ukraine, 2488, 19), 4.) Harika Dronavalli (India, 2461, 17) 5.) Shen Yang China (2450, 19), 6.) Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine, 2436, 16), 7.) Elena Tairova (Russia, 2422, 17), 8.) Wenjun Ju (China, 2395, 17) 9.) Tan Zhongyi China (2395, 17), 10.) Kruttika Nadig (India, 2387, 20).

Hou Yifan, who was the runnerup in the World Women Championship behind Alexandra Kosteniuk, is the world’s youngest GM.

MIND GAMES. Filipino GM Mark Paragua (2526) settled for a fourth-place finish in the just concluded chess section of the First World Mind Sport Games-Individual Blitz Chess Championship in Beijing, China.

More than 3,000 competitors are playing in the World Mind Games in Beijing for the next two weeks featuring chess, Go, checkers, bridge and xiangqi or Chinese chess.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Three big events in October

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THERE are three big events this month. The World Youth Championships will be held in Vung Tau, Vietnam from Oct. 20 to 30 and the Philippines has sent a big delegation.

The stars of tomorrow are Rowelyn Acedo for Girls 12-Under; Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Cherry Ann Mejia, Chardine Cheradee Camacho for 14-Under and Christy Lamiel Bernales, Jedara Docena.

The boys squad is composed of Kyle Ochoa for 8-Under, Haince Patrick De Leon for 12-Under, John Ray Batucan, Prince Mark Aquino, Jan Emmanuel for 14-Under, Alcon John Datu and Haridas Pascua for 16-Under, Karl Ochoa and Richilieu Salcedo for 18-Under.

Notable absentee is Wesley So who will be 15 this month.

We have no entries in the 8, 10 and 18 girls division and also in 10-Under boys division. For the first time ever, our players will be attired with a set of polo shirts, necktie and jacket for proper representation in this event, courtesy of NCFP President Butch Pichay

More than 800 children and juniors from 70 federations have already registered to participate.

BRAIN POWER. The First World Mind Games featuring chess, bridge, checkers, Go and Xiang QI (Chinese chess) with more than 3,000 players will be held today in Beijing, China until Oct. 18.

There are an estimated 1.3 billion people around the world who play these games, which are represented by 500 national sports federations.

Our chess teams are Men: GM Mark Paragua, IMs Rolando Nolte, Julio Catalino Sadorra and Chito Garma and NM Leonardo Carlos; Women: Sherily Cua, Christine Rose Mariano, Kimberly Jane Cunanan, Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Rida Jane Young.

CHAMPIONSHIPS. The World Championship match where Viswanathan Anand will defend his title against Vladimir Kramnik in Bonn, Germany will take place Oct. 14 to Nov. 2. Prize money is 1.5 million Euros. Main sponsor is Evonik Industries AG.

Acclaimed as the Fastest Brain in the world, Viswanathan Anand is rated as one of the biggest natural talents ever in the history of chess. He has won the prestigious Corus event five times (1989, 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006) and the Linares Super Tournament 3 times (1998, 2007 and 2008).

He became the Undisputed Champion in Mexico in September 2007, ending many years of schism in the chess world.

Kramnik‘s games are already legendary. He is always searching for creative and new solutions. In many games he sees things that no computer can calculate and no grandmaster can discover.

He was World Chess Champion in 2000 to 2007 and is undefeated in three World Championship matches. He has won all major tournaments in the chess calendar.

TALISAY. King James Torres, 17 years old, wins with six points over 68 players to emerge champion of the Talisay Open, September Edition, last weekend at the Talisay South Central Square. Other six pointers with lower tiebreaks were Joselito Loquez (first runnerup), Alberto Aabo (second runnerup) and Jomar Gallardo (third runnerup)

Previous monthly champions were : Carlo Maraat (May); Cephas Seguisabal (June); Keres Bucao (July) and Dennis Navales (August). Monthly champions will compete in the Grand Finals on January Sinulog 2009 for the over-all championship.

In the Kiddies Category, Deniel Corpus won with 4.5 points, John Francis Balbona was first runnerup, Sherwin Amad was second runnerup and Jeremy Pepito was third.

Major sponsors were Rural Bank of Carmen, Atty. Richard Abangan, Sr., Engr. Bombi Aznar, and Pepsi Cola. Tournament Director is Manny Manzanares and Chief Arbiter was Bob Tojong.

The next tournament is scheduled on Oct. 11 to

Friday, September 26, 2008

Topalov is new No. 1 in chess

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

WHEN the official Fide ratings will be released on Oct. 1, a lot of changes will take place. Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria will take the No. 1 position and previous topnotcher, world champion Viswanathan Anand of India, will be relegated to fifth place.

The Chess Grand Slam Final has just concluded in Bilbao, Spain, and was a six-player double-round robin event, the strongest in the history of the game ( a category 22 tournament).

The prize fund for the event was 400,000 Euros, with the winner receiving 150,000 Euros, the second place 70,000 Euros, etc. and the 6th placer getting 30,000 Euros. The prize is unprecedented and only the World Championships have exceeded the amount.

The scoring is also unusual with three points for a win, 1 for a draw and zero for losing the game. A draw is only possible with the consent of the arbiter.

The big surprise of the contest was that Anand, who was favored to win, instead finished a shocking last place .

Here are the final scores: Topalov (2777) 17 points; Magnus Carlsen of Norway (2787) 13; Levon Aronian of Armenia (2751) 13; Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine (2781) 12; Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan (2744) 10; and Anand (2798) 8.

Live ratings for the World Top 6 players now are 1.) Topalov, 2.) Alexander Morozevich of Russia (2787), 3.) Carlsen, 4.) Ivanchuk, 5.) Anand 6.) Vladimir Kramnik of Russia (2772).

WESLEY AND EUGENE. I was expecting Wesley So to sneak into the World top 100 this October but he did not perform as expected in the just- concluded PGMA Cup which was won by the resurrected Eugene Torre.

Instead, Wesley had a performance rating of 2460 to lose 14 Elo and ends this quarter with an estimated rating of 2615, while Eugene gained a massive 28 to close at 2560.

It is interesting to note that Eugene and Wesley will face off on Feb. 10 next year with an unprecedented pot money of P1,000,000 and the winner pocketing P600,000.

The 14-year-old So and the 56-year-old Torre will play a total of 12 games starting at the Sulo Hotel in Quezon City. Two games each will then be played in Davao and Iloilo, and if the match is tied, the players will return to QC. A knockout game will be played if the duel ends in a tie.

The two GMs had split their three previous games and this match will be Fide rated. Sponsor is QC Rep. Matias Defensor.

KOSTENIUK. The Women’s World Championship 2008 has just concluded in Nalchik, a city in the Caucasus region of Southern Russia and the capital of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic. Sixty-four players were eligible to play in the knockout event, which has a prize fund of $450,000 with the champion winning $60,000 and the runnerup $30,000. Due to the Russia-Georgia conflict the Georgian players and a few others decided not to participate.

Aleksandra Kosteniuk 24, defeated Hou Yifan, 14, 2.5-1.5 , in the final by winning the first game and drawing the rest of the next three games easily to become the 2008 World Women Champion. She succeeds Xu Yuhua who went out in the second round. In recent years China has dominated the event and Kosteniuk is the first Russian women’s champion since Elisabeth Bykova (champion 1958-1962).

She is considered one of the most beautiful players today and her motto is “beauty and intelligence can go together.”

Alexandra learned to play chess at the age of five after being taught by her father. She is married to Swiss-born Diego Garces, who is of Colombian descent, and 25 years her elder.

Hou Yifan of China is the toast of the chess world and by reaching the finals of the championship has also made her the youngest Super GM replacing our Wesley So.

Little known stories about Mikhail Tal

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

TAL (Nov. 9 1936 to June 28 1992) was a Soviet-Latvian chess player and the eighth World Chess Champion. He was often called “Misha” (a diminutive for Mikhail) and also “The magician from Riga” for his daring combinational style.

Many authorities consider him to have been the greatest attacking player of all time.

Tal’s heyday was when he beat Bobby Fischer, 4-0, during the candidates matches in Yugoslavia in 1959.

He was awarded a GM title without having been an IM first. The other one I know of was our Rosendo Balinas, who was the second foreigner, after Capablanca, to win a major tournament in Russia.

In the 1966 Havana Olympiad, Tal was hit in the head with a bottle and beaten up because he was flirting with someone’s wife. He was taken to the hospital and missed five rounds.

Tal suffered from bad health, and had to be hospitalized frequently throughout his career, mainly for kidney problems.

Eventually one of his diseased kidneys was removed. Tal was a chain smoker and a heavy drinker. He was also briefly addicted to morphine.

Tal died in a Moscow hospital, officially of kidney failure. But his friend and fellow Soviet grandmaster Genna Sosonko reported that “in reality, all his organs had stopped functioning.”

Whenever Tal would be in the hospital, he kept on escaping and can be found in the local chess club playing all day long.

Tal loved the game in itself and considered that “Chess, first of all, is Art.” He was capable of playing numerous blitz games against unknown or relatively weak players purely for the joy of play.

Tal was the briefest world champion reigning for 1 year and 5 days. The longest reign is held by Emanuel Lasker for 26 years and 337 days.

He was born with only three oversized fingers on his right hand but that did not stop him from playing the piano—Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Rachmaninov were his favorite composers. Musicians and painters, not chess players, were his closest friends.

Before Tal went to school, he was already able to multiply three-figure digits in his head and was allowed to skip two years in a row.

He was completely oblivious to material things. When he became champion he was given the best Soviet car at that time ,a Volga, but he never even considered to get a driving license and gave the car to his brother.

When he was asked if he was a morphine addict, he replied “Oh no, I am a Chigorin addict.” Chigorin was a famous Russian grandmaster.

In 1974 in a tournament in Poland, he was playing Adamski with both players in time trouble. Adamski’s flag fell but Tal lost a piece and resigned. At that moment Tal’s wife said “Black has not yet made 40 moves.” The arbiter intervened and awarded the win to Tal, who went on to win the tournament.

While strolling in Moscow, he was approached by a young girl if she could talk to him for a moment. He was so embarrassed because the lady proposed to have a child with him.

He once invited fellow GM Anthony Saidy and wife Engelika to a nightclub. They ordered one liter of vodka and Saidy had an ounce, Engelika another ounce and Tal the rest.

He purposely played moves that created the maximum complications for both sides. He once said, “One doesn’t have to play well. One only needs to play better than his opponent.”

He was so intimidating during his peak that he made seasoned grandmaster opponents shudder with fear.

Many thanks to Edmund Beronio for sending me his collection of chess information. He is an industrial engineer and works as the plant manager of a carrageenan factory in Cavite. His favorite players are of course, Tal and Fischer.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Meet Eugene Torre, Asia's first Grandmaster?

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE third PGMA Cup is now on going at the Duty-Free Fiesta Mall in Parañaque up to Sept. 13 with a format of 9 rounds Swiss. At stake is $40,000 with the champion pocketing the lion’s share of $6,000 and the runners up getting $5,000 and $4,000.

Playing are 22 GMs, 12 IMs, 1 WGM, 3 FMs and 1 WIM, totaling 72 players including 33 foreigners.

The tournament has been a revelation of sorts, more like the resurrection of the one of the most revered players of the planet. Eugene Torre has made a strong statement (he is not in the Olympiad team to Germany) with five straight wins and a draw in the sixth round to lead the field. I don’t recall Eugene playing this well at the start for more than two decades.

In 1974, then 22, he became Asia’s first Grandmaster (more on this later) by winning the silver medal in Board 1 in the World Chess Olympiad held in Nice, France behind future world champion, Anatoly Karpov. The team captain and also Philippines Chess Federation President at that time was Bombi Aznar.

The high point of his career came in the early 1980s when he was ranked world No.17 and successfully went on to qualify to be a candidate for the world championship after tying for first with Lajos Portisch during the 1982 Toluca Interzonal.

He was a celebrity in the 80s due to his daily one hour TV program “Chess Today”, and was once voted one of the 10 sexiest men in the Philippines.

He starred opposite now Batangas Governor Vilma Santos in a film produced by Sampaguita Pictures titled “Basta’t Isipin Mo, Mahal Kita” and was allegedly linked to her romantically by media.

He is not the only sportsman though to be featured in a movie. Others have been Mona Sulaiman , Rolando Navarette, Lydia de Vega , Anthony Villanueva, Onyok Velasco and a few others.

He was a TOYM awardee in 1974 and is the only sportsman elevated by the Philippine Sportswriters Association to the Hall of Fame.

Eugene has been honored and is accepted all over the world as Asia’s first GM. In a region comprising more than a third of the world’s population, this is really unique and a tremendous accomplishment.

However, I came across an article that claims that the first Asian GM was Russian Alexander Zaitsev (June 15,1935 to Oct. 31, 1971), who became GM in 1967 well ahead of Eugene. His finest achievement was a share of first place at the 1968/69 USSR Chess Championship of Alma Ata. He was born and raised in Vladivostok, Russia.

Where is Vladivostok? From what I have read thus far, it is considered to be a part of Asia and is situated at the head of the Golden Horn Bay not far from the Russo-Chinese border and North Korea in the Far East. Japan is about 100 miles away.

Can somebody correct me please.

Hou Yifan. Don‘t look now but Wesley So has unofficialy lost his claim to fame as the youngest GM in the world. That status now belongs to the Chinese sensation Hou Yifan born Feb. 27, 1994 and 141 days younger than Wesley. And, she is a girl!

Just this month , Fide referred to her as a “GM-elect”, indicating that her Atatürk norm (2nd) had been confirmed. This means that Hou Yifan has qualified for the title of GM last month (3rd norm) in the World Juniors, where she finished tied at third, at the age of 14, making her one of the youngest GMs in history and the youngest female.

She is now in the semifinals of the 2008 Women’s World Championship playing against India’s Koneru Humpy. The other pairing is between Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia against Pia Cramling of Sweden. Whatever happens it will be East vs. West in the finals.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Kim Steven Yap, a rising star

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

CHESS is in his blood. His father is NM Lincoln Yap, who is working as a chess instructor and arbiter in Singapore and his mother is Mona Ruelan, daughter of the late NM Marcelo “Loloy” Ruelan.

His uncle is IM Rico Yap Mascariñas, a chess coach in Singapore, who, for a long time, was the country’s second best player after Eugene Torre, and a Board 2 gold medalist in the 1982 Chess Olympiad in Lucerne, Switzerland! Another uncle is Fide arbiter Marvin Ruelan, who orchestrates a lot of the local tournaments.

Kimkim, 20, an AB English student at the University of Cebu, recently played in the fifth IGB Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open where he snared his second IM norm with a 7.5/12 performance when he placed ninth including tiebreaks in a field of 112 highly rated players.

He would have achieved a nine-game GM norm had he won his game against compatriot GM Darwin Laylo in the ninth round instead of a tie.

He defeated WIM Suveges Navelle of Australia in the first round and missed the winning move versus GM Dzhurmaev Marat of Uzbekistan in the second, which ended in a draw.

He went up against GM Sermek Drazen of Croatia in the third round but missed the drawing move, and easily won his fourth and fifth games over Kamal Abdullah and Ian Udani, who are both Malaysians.

He won again in the sixth round over IM Julio Catalino Sadorra and halved the point with another Pinoy in the seventh round, IM Ronald Dableo. In the eighth round, he manhandled IM Oliver Dimakiling in the game featured below.

With his fine performance, I estimate Kim‘s new rating is not at 2359.

He is aiming to get his final norm at either the Pichay Cup at the Duty Free Mall in Parañaque on Sept. 13-20 or the Singapore Mixed Masters in December.

Sponsoring Kim’s trip to Malaysia were Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy, Kelly Uy of Cebu Progress Marketing, Bombi Aznar of SWU and Augusto Go of UC. US-based doctor, Darcy Tabotabo has also expressed his intention to help this remarkable lad.

It is interesting to note that Kim is up 2-0 versus current sensation Wesley So in their heads on match.

WESLEY AGAIN. Wesley So hogged the limelight with another impressive performance, to tie at second in the First Capital Dragon tourney in Vietnam after a 6.5/9 result. His live rating is now estimated at 2622.

He is one of the favorites in the twin International tournaments scheduled one after the other at the Duty Free Mall in Parañaque, the $40,OOO PGMA Cup on Sept. 6-13 and the $30,000 top purse of the fourth Prospero Pichay Cup.

Thirty-four foreign players have already confirmed their participation.

If Wesley places in the Top 3 in each of these contests, his rating will go up to around 2640, which will place him in the world’s Top 100, when the official ratings will be released on Oct. 1. Wow na wow! Soooo great already at only 14 years old!

SPAIN. The Bilbao in Spain, an on-going competition ending on Sept. 13, is the strongest ever in history (Category 22- ave Elo 2778) and has had its share of several firsts. The “Bilbao” rule is in effect meaning no draws are allowed, unless approved by the arbiter. Furthermore, the scoring is unusual, with a win at 3 points, draw 1, and loss zero. And it is played in the town plaza, inside an “aquarium”.

The prize? A cool Euro 400,000 or $585,000. The champion will get 150,000 euros, while the runners up will get 70,000, 60,000 for third, 50,000, 40,000 and 30,000 euros.

The six participants in the event belong to the world’s Top 10 list– Viswanathan Anand (1), Magnus Carlsen (2), Vasili Ivanchuk (3), Véselin Topálov (6), Teimur Radyábov (7) and Levon Aronián (10). It is one of a kind really.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

An unfair decision

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

MY BARKADA and drinking buddy in college Rogelio “Tata” Morelos who, belongs to a family of chess players, just gave me a handwritten note criticizing the showdown between grandmasters Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio that was dubbed as the QC Chess Road Show.

“Dear Chessmoso, Just recently, two top Filipino grandmasters had a showdown with a reported P200,000 as prize money offered by the sponsors.

I was eagerly waiting for the result of the seven-game confrontation, which to my dismay ended in a draw.

What left a bad taste to my gin and tonic-watered mouth was that the two, who tied on the sixth game, did not play the tiebreak seventh game, but instead, decided by themselves to divide the pot money.

I find this to be beggarly and highly impolite for the GMs to do.

It is like Pacquaio and De La Hoya stopping at the 10th round of a scheduled 12 rounds and deciding to call it a draw after being informed by the judges that both have the same scores.

Are the actions of the two GMs allowed in chess tournaments? If so, the people who drafted the rules should be made to swallow the chess pieces of that tournament and add the board as dessert.

The tournament was supposed to be a showdown on who is the master of whom.”

I personally would like to know who the better player is, as I have been following their careers for a long time. Now, after much hype and publicity, there is no decision. I don’t know the inside story but isn’t it unfair to the chess-playing community?

CHESS RESULTS. The World Under-16 Olympiad played at Mersin, Turkey just ended with India and Russia tied at the top with 281/2 each. However, India had the better tiebreak to win the gold medal. After a disastrous performance at Beijing, the Philippines finally got the respect from chess fans by placing a strong third with 27 points 21/2 clear of the strong Azerbaijan team.

As expected, boy wonder Wesley So, snared the gold medal at Board 1 with an impressive 9/10 performance without a loss. Including his performance at the World Juniors, Wesley‘s Elo rating is now about 2618. Congrats Wesley, you are sooooo good!

The other players were Haridas Pascua, Alcon John Datu and Jan Emmanuel Garcia who all posted positive scores.

Another good news for Cebuano chess fans is that home grown FM Kim Steven Yap, son of NM Lingky Yap and grandson of the late NM Loloy Ruelan, got his second IM norm in the just concluded Datu Arthur Tan Malaysia Open.

Kim would have achieved a nine-game GM norm had he won his last game instead of a draw, against compatriot GM Darwin Laylo.

The First Dragon Capital Vietnam is currently on-going at Vung Tau from Aug. 26- Sept. 2. It is the sixth leg of the Asean Grand Prix.

Playing are Wesley So, Rolando Nolte, Julio Catalino Sadorra and Cebuano Richard Bitoon.

The top seeds for this tournament are Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Nguyen Ngoc Troungson, Le Quang liem and Wesley. After Round 2, Richard had 2 points, Wesley had 1.5 and Nolte and Sadorra each had a point. Wesley should win his third round match against Vietnamese lady player WFM Dang Bich Ngoc.

On the international scene, Vassily Ivanchuk, currently ranked fourth in the world, has just won the very strong category 20 Tal Memorial in the exhibition Hall of the Red Square in Moscow, a point clear off the field.

The other participants are former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, who won the tournament last year, Alexander Morozevich, currently the world’s second highest-ranked player, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (8th), Alexei Shirov (9th), Peter Leko (10th), Gata Kamsky (17th), Boris Gelfand, (18th), Ruslan Ponomariov (19th) and Evgeny Alekseev (26th).

Wesley So a rare prodigy

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

PRODIGIES come and go. They number by the hundreds, even thousands, every year all over the world, but after a few years or so, they are relegated to the dustbins of chess history. There are phenomenal exceptions though, and one of them is our Wesley So.

Born October 9,1993, So is a high school student of St. Francis of Assisi in Bacoor, Cavite and at an early age, became one of the “Promil Kids,” featured in television commercials of a milk brand.

“I taught him chess when he was six years old,” said Wesley’s proud father, William, who devotes most of his time on his son. “He has improved a lot because he plays with so much dedication and really loves the game.”

He became a grand master when he was 14 years old, 1 month and 28 days, to become the seventh youngest GM in history and the youngest at the moment.

Two prominent chess players, who know what they are talking about, only have praises for this gifted boy.

Eugene Torre, Asia’s first GM, said recently, “Wesley is a rare find. He has an exceptional talent and has a potential to be a world champion. This is a great opportunity to have a kid like him. He is still young and dynamic. He has a bright future, and we all need to support him.”

Many are not familiar with IM Rodolfo Tan Cardoso, but he was a former Philippine champion in the late 50’s and 60’s and had the distinct honor of playing one-on-one
with the great Bobby Fischer back, I think, in 1958, in the battle of chess prodigies.

Cardoso recently wrote in Chessbase, “I first saw Wesley during the junior active chess tournaments in 2003 in Manila. He was then a young lad who would sacrifice a queen or any other pieces in his arsenal to get a winning attack. He was well-ahead of his foes, indeed at nine years old, he won the National Kiddies Tournament for 14-Under, and at 13, he won the National Juniors (20 Under) and the Philippine National Open.”

In a span of a few years, he has catapulted himself as the Philippines’ brightest chess star. We can expect him to be in the world’s Top 10 and be a world title-contender in the not-so distant future.

To be a chess world champion is very rare. Unlike in boxing where there are dozens of champions in several categories and federations, there is only one chess champion and can reign for a long time.

Here are some performance ratings by Wesley in 2008. He was champion in the strong Dubai Open (2708), he defeated Indonesia’s No. 1 Megaranto Susanto (2681), he was champion in the Battle of GMs (2660), placed second in the Pichay Cup (2601), placed second in the National Finals (2667) and eighth in the just-concluded World Juniors in Turkey (2614). His live rating is now 2605, the “world’s youngest super GM”.

To be invited to Corus 2009 is like an invitation to the White House. It is one of the world’s premiere tournaments and it is an honor and privilege given only to those with
the utmost potentials. If he makes good, it will be his ticket to big time tournaments, which can make him a multi-millionaire in a short time.

Unknown to many, Wesley is the highest rated 14-year-old in the history of chess. He is better at this age than Magnus Carlsen, Sergey Karjakin, Teimour Radjabov, Ruslan Ponomariov, Etienne Bacrot and Peter Leko who are all now in the 2700 plus category.

There are suggestions that Wesley should stop playing in his age group, like the Under 16 World Olympiad in Turkey now, and should be pushed against stronger and older players. An observation is that “Prodigies grow by leaps and bounds only when exposed to strong opponents. Carlsen and Karjakin have not even bothered to play in the World Juniors, and at 17 and 18, are now well-entrenched among the elite GMs.”

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wesley So's must-win and Heath Ledger

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

AFTER winning his two previous games to tie at second, Wesley So suffered his only loss in the 11th round to tournament leader Arik Braun of Germany, who has 8.5 points, half a point lead over six other boys. Had Wesley drawn his game, it would have been a tie among eight players at the top.

If he managed a draw, he would have been the only undefeated player in this very strong tournament, which has qualified 22 GMs, 22 IMs and 15 FMs totaling 109 players from 60 countries.

Wesley is in solo eighth place with a still salvageable 7.5 points but he must win his two remaining games to have a chance at becoming a world champion.

It was a painful loss for the world’s youngest GM as he has a higher rating of 2577 over the German’s 2533.

He was playing Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan last night and was the slight favorite, although his opponent already has eight points.

Wesley’s performance rating is still a high 2629.

The Top 4 boards in the 12th and penultimate round, where the eventual champion will come from, are Gupta Abhijeet (India)– Maxim Rodshtein Braun (Israel)-David Howell (England), Parimerjan Negi (India)-Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Vietnam) and Wesley’s game against Eltaj.

Abhijeet and Negi played in last year’s Asian Championship at the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue.

As of Aug. 12, Wesley has a live rating of 2604 from the games here and from his fine performance in his last nine tournaments, where he placed no lower than fifth place in eight of them.

SOCHI GRAND PRIX. The Second FIDE Grand Prix Tournament, is on-going in Sochi, Russia from July 30 to Aug. 15 with 14 players from 10 different countries competing.

The Grand Prix is a series of six tournaments among pre-selected top players that will determine the challenger to the World Champion in 2010.

After 11 rounds, the leader is Levon Aronian (2737) of Armenia with seven points. There is a three-way tie for second among Wang Yue (2704), Ukraine’s Sergey Karjakin (2727) and Azerbaijan’s Teimour Radjabov (2744).

THE DARK KNIGHT is now the third highest-grossing movie of all time. Only Titanic and Star Wars have sold more tickets than the latest Batman movie and this is primarily due to the late Heath Ledger’s phenomenal interpretation of the Joker, which might be good enough for a posthumous at the Oscars.

While many of you know him as one of the most promising actor of his generation, very few know that he was one hell of a chess player.

A New York restaurant, Brightside, that Heath was planning on investing in, will honor the Australian actor in the form of a chess board.

Brightside owner Jud Mongell said the chess board will be known as Heath’s table. Patrons can enjoy their meals while playing chess in Heath’s honor.

“Heath was a big chess player,” Mr Mongell said. “The whole idea was to make it a spot for us. We wanted to make it our own space to hang out.”

He said the opening this summer will be bittersweet without Ledger, who died in January at the age of 28 from an accidental prescription drug overdose.

CEPCA BLITZ OPEN. Richard Natividad and NM Glenn Pardillo were the co-winners in the recent contest. Kiddies winner was Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano.

Our Club would like to thank Opascor, most especially lawyer Tomas A. Riveral, president and general manager and a good chess player, for allowing us to use their facilities. Opascor is a chess-friendly company.

Wesley So, so far, so good

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

BOY wonder GM Wesley So, 14, who is considered the strongest Pinoy chess player now, is competing in the on-going World Junior Championship in Gaziantep ,Turkey from Aug. 2-16 together with NM Haridas Pascua, who is also 14 years old.

The boys section, for those 20 years and under, has attracted 22 GMs, 22 IMs AND 15 FMs totaling 109 players from 60 countries.

The Top 5 seeds are Rauf Mamedov (2627, Azerbaijan), Maxim Rodstein (2605, Israel), Dmitry Andreikin (2604, Russia), Victor Ladnicka (2601, Czechoslovakia) and David Baramidze (2593, Germany). Wesley, with 2577, is seeded No.11.

The top seeds have been ambushed in this tournament, a sign of the strength for the participating players. After five rounds, the co-leaders are Li Chao China and David Howell England with 4.5 points. Figuring in a seven-way tie at second place with identical four points were Le Quang Lie of Vietnam, Hou Yifan of China, Eltaj Sabarli of Azerbaijan, Kiril Stupac of Belarus, Ivan Popov of Russia, Braun Arik of Germany and Lin Chin of China.

Hou Yifan? Isn’t she a girl ? Yes, she is and only 14! I don’t recall a girl playing in the boys’ section ever. She has a rating of 2557 and is seeded No.16.

Wesley has 3.5 points with two wins and three draws in a tie with 15 other players. He won over Djuraev Sokhib of Turkey, drew with Sengupta Deep of India, defeated Boros Denes of Hungary and tied Manuel Hoyos of Mexico and Alejandro Ramirez of Costa Rica. He was playing Melkunyan Hrant of Armenia in the sixth round yesterday.

Haridas Pascua had a disappointing two points but should finish in the mid-section. The competition follows a 13- round Swiss format.

There has been a dramatic announcement: Wesley and Eugene Torre will face off in a P1 million Dream Match ! Details will be posted later.

CHESS RESULTS. On the national scene, the classic encounter dubbed as the QC Chess road show ended in a draw between GMs Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio. Joey won the first game and the fourth, while Eugene managed to equalize by winning the third and fifth games.

They decided not to play the decisive seventh game and equally shared the reported pot of P200,000.

The toughest women’s tournament in history, the North Urals Cup, which is on its third staging, was won by former World Champion(2004) Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria with three wins and three draws and a single loss to finish with 4.5 points.

Tied for second with 4.0 were Anna Ushenina Ukraine and Marie Sebag of France.

CEPCA BLITZ OPEN. It will be held tomorrow at the Opascor Office in the Reclamation area, Benedicto St. starting at 1:30 p.m. The format is seven-round Swiss and time control is five minutes for class A players, 10 minutes for class B and 15 minutes for class C. The total pot is P9,000. The registration fee is pegged at P100 for the main group and P40 for the

The junior players will join the main group while the kiddies will have a separate contest of their own.

This is a joint effort of Cepca honorary members Bombi Aznar and Boojie Lim, President Renato Casia, membership chairman Ben Dimaano, tournament chairman Joe Atillo, Chessmoso, Jongjong Melendez, Mandy Baria, Maggi Dionson,Nicnic Climaco,Fabio Abucejo, Ogie Reyes, Gerry Ouano, Jun Olis, Jojo Muralla, Mon Tapia. Felix Balbona and Boy Gallardo.

On Sunday, Aug. 10, balikbayan chess player, Jojo Dondon, is also sponsoring a Blitz Tournament with a 15-minute time control. The tourney is known as the Alfonso Dondon Memorial Chess Open Tournament. The event will be held at the Colonade Chess Club with P100 registration fee and starts at 10 a.m.

Jojo and his wife Rose are residents of Mcallen, Texas, USA.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Major tournaments in the second half of 2008

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THERE are a lot of significant and great chess events in the second half of 2008. This month, we have the traditional Mainz Chess Festival, Biel and the Sochi Grand Prix.

Taking place in August is the World Juniors and Women Championship.

Towards the end of the year are the Anand vs. Kramnik and Topalov vs. Kamsky matches and the Grand daddy of them all, the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany.

Mainz, Germany is a chess monster of superlatives. It spans over six days from July 28 to Aug. 3 and consists of several events. The Ordix Open is the World’s biggest Rapid Open and the FiNet Open is also the World’s biggest Chess960 Open in two sections, men and women. Another event is the Grenkeleasing Rapid World Championship featuring Viswanathan Anand, Alexander Morozevich, Magnus Carlsen and Judit Polgar.

There are also open tournaments for children under 14 years old.

The 41st edition of the Biel, Switzerland 2008 International Festival will be on July 19 to Aug. 1. In the grandmaster section are Magnus Carlsen (2775, Norway), Evgeny Alekseev (2708, Russia), Etienne Bacrot (2691, France), Lenier Dominguez (2708, Cuba), Alexander Onischuk (2670, US) and Yannick Pelletier (2569, Switzerland). There will also be an Open Master Tournament for those with Elo rating of 2000 and above, a general tournament for Elo 2000 and below, a rapid Open , Blitz Chess and a Youth tournament for children born 1988 and later. There is also a simul exhibition by GM Vladimir Belov of Russia on the 19th.

The Grand Prix is a series of six tournaments held over two years (2008-2009) in leading world cities featuring 21 selected players. Each tournament will have 14 players playing over a schedule of 17 days. The selected players must play in at least four tournaments. The winner of the Grand Prix series at the end of 2009 will play the winner of the World Cup held in 2009 in an eight-game match to become the challenger to the World Champion in a match to be held in the third quarter of 2010.

The Baku leg was competed last April and Sochi, Russia will be on July 30 to Aug. 15. The World Junior Championship for boys and girls will be held in Gaziantep, a city in South Central Turkey. It is a 13-round Swiss and will take place Aug. 2 to 16.

Wesley So and Haridas Pascua will be playing in the World Juniors Championship 2008. So is the world`s youngest GM at 14 and ranked is 18 in the world among Juniors, while Pascua won the bronze in the World Under 16 2007 Olympiad in Singapore and defeated Mark Paragua in the Olympiad eliminations this month.

The World Women’s Championship 2008 is scheduled in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria (Russian Federation), from Aug. 28 to Sept. 18 with a prize fund of $450,000 US. No Pinay has qualified to enter this championship as most of the 12 Asian qualifiers are from China and Vietnam.

The next World Chess Championship will take place from Oct. 11 to 30 in Bonn, Germany, with the reigning world champion Viswanathan Anand and the challenger Vladimir Kramnik playing in a 12-game match. The prize fund, which will be split equally between the players, is approximately $2.1 million.

Anand won his title in September 2007 at the World Championship tournament in Mexico City, while Kramnik was the former champion.

The Veselin Topalov vs Gata Kamsky eight-game match will begin in Lviv (Lvov), Ukraine on Nov. 28, and the prize fund will be $750,000. Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a multi-millionaire, has guaranteed the organizer’s offer with his personal finances. Kamsky is playing Topalov because he won the World Cup last year, while Topalov was seeded into the match by the World Chess Federation after he was originally excluded from the world championship cycle in Mexico City.

The winner of the Topalov vs. Kamsky match will challenge the winner of the Anandv s. Kramnik duel in 2009 for undisputed World champion.

The 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany will be featured in a special article later.

The strongest women’s tournament

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I SELDOM feature women’s tournaments—not because I am biased—but simply because there are only a few of them.

However, if it is billed as the strongest women’s tournament ever, I guess every chess player has a right to know what is it all about.

The North Urals Cup is in its third edition and is ongoing in Krasnoturinsk, Russia from July 26 to Aug. 3. Here are the players and their background.

I am enumerating their accomplishments as very few chess players know about women chess and it is about time to show them our respect.

Koneru Humpy (India) is an International grandmaster with a rating of 2622. She is a semifinalist of the World Cup (2002), semifinalist of the World Women Championship (2004), winner of the super tournament “North Urals Cup” (2005), and first placer in the individual and the team categories (Asian Games 2006).

Stefanova Antoaneta (Bulgaria) is an international grandmaster with a rating of 2550. She is the European Champion (2002), Women World Champion (2004), and two-time champion of Russia (team “AVS”) (2005, 2006). She also won 3rd place in the Russian Championship (team “AVS”) (2007), winner of the male GM tournament in Salona (2007) and finished the Gibraltar Masters 2008 with an ELO performance of 2690.

Cramling Pia (Sweden) is an international grandmaster with a rating of 2544 and is a WGM since 1982 and International Grandmaster since 1992. She is the women’s European champion (2003), vice-champion of Sweden among men (1987, 2000), winner of the European Club Cup with the team of Monaco (2007). She also won second place in the Ataturk Masters Ustanbul (2008).

Sebag Marie (France) is an international grandmaster with a rating of 2529 and a winner of the European Youth Championship (1999, 2000, 2002), two-time champion of France (2000, 2002), and a quarterfinalist of the World Women Championship (2006).

Muzychuk Anna (Slovenia) is another international grandmaster with a rating of 2504. She is the champion of Ukraine among women (2003), Russian, Slovenian, German Club Cup champion, European Club Cup vice-champion with “AVS” (2007), and the winner of the international women tournaments “Moscow Open” and “1st Ladies Open” (2008).

Xu Yuhua (China) is an international grandmaster with a rating of 2483 and winner of the zonal tournament (1993, 2001), World Cup (2000, 2002). She is also a member of the World Olympiad Team Champion (2000, 2002, 2004), and is the Women World Champion (2006).

Ushenina Anna (Ukraine) is an International grandmaster since 2007 with a rating of 2476. She is the champion of Ukraine among women (2005), member of the Olympiad champion team (2006), member of the third-place finisher in the World Women Team Championship (2007).

Pogonina Natalya (Russia) is an international grandmaster with a rating of 2469. She is the European champion among in the 16-Under and 18-Under women (2000, 2003), the European rapid chess 18-Under champion (2003), third placer in the super tournament “North Urals Cup” (2007), vice-champion of European Club Cup with “AVS” (2007), first placer in the Russian team and the second placer in the World Students’ Championship (2008).

Here are the standings after the 3rd round: Stefanova 2.5,Ushenina, Sebag, Yuhua 2.0, Pogonina, Muzychuk, Koneru 1.0, Cramling 0.5.

Obviously it has been a disappointment for the top seed Koneru who started with two losses against Stefanova and Sebag and Cramling, who is the most experienced, who only has a single draw.

CEPCA BLITZ OPEN. The tournament has been moved to Aug. 9 starting at 1 p.m. and the venue will be the Opascor Bldg. Format is seven rounds Swiss with time control set at five minutes for Class A and 10 minutes for Class B and C plus three seconds increment. Registration is P100.

Total pot is P8,000. For more details contact tournament arbiter Marvin Ruelan

A classic duel between two grandmasters

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE talk of the town among chess players is the ongoing duel between Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio in a six-game match last Monday at the Quezon City Hall. The match started with a draw last Monday, followed by a win by Antonio despite having the black pieces in the second game at Tomas Morato last Wednesday.

The match is dubbed as the QC Chess Road Show and is backed by Mayor Sonny Belmonte and QC Majority Floor leader Councilor Ariel Inton and some corporate sponsors.

It will be recalled that Joey defeated Eugene in 1998, 6.5-5.5, in a match that was promoted as the Centennial Chess Duel. Only one game was decided and the rest were draws.

Other venues will be at the La Loma district today, Tandang Sora Shrine (July 28), Pugad Lawin shrine (Aug. 1) and Gateway Mall in Araneta Center (Aug. 4). In case of a tie, a 7th game will be held at the Eastwood, Libis.

Although the total pot has not been divulged to the media and public, P200,000 is being mentioned, though I’m not certain.

Pichay Memorial Chess patron Bogie Lim and Cesar Caturla, personal assistant of NCFP president Prospero Pichay, sent me messages that the Fifth Prospero Pichay Memorial Tournament will be held in Cantilan, Surigao on Aug. 12 to 15 next month. The total prize money is P300,000 with P100,000 going for the first placer, P50,000 for the second placer, and P30,000 for the third placer.

There will also be prizes up to the 25th placer. Registration is only P200 and it is expected that a big delegation from Cebu will be competing together with the country’s top players.

CEPCA. Our monthly tournament was recently held at Deep Blue SM City and the winner was Felix Poloyapoy Jr. with Joe Atillo at 2nd. New member Boy Gallardo and Mike Banebane were tied at third and fourth.

In the Kiddies Category, which was held at the Opascor Bldg., The winner was John Francis Balbona. The other placers were Raymond Abellana, Efren Tonolite, Neil Adrian Gelig and John Kevin Linihan.

The Juniors monthly winner is Nikki Sabiquil with the following placers, Marq Gabrielle Balbona, Godfrey Villamor, Gerald Miral, Justin Misa and Bernardo Ruelo.

The sponsors for the Kiddies and Juniors tournaments were Atty. Tomas Riveral and NM Bombi Aznar.

NEW MEMBERS. We had several new members this month. Boy Gallardo is a businessman whose favorite players are Bobby Fischer and current World Champion Vishy Anand. He also knows how to play Japanese Chess, Shogi, with a playing strength of First Dan.

Joel Sarausad‘s favorite sports are chess and boxing and is in sales and accounting. He says that he hopes to play more competitive chess from now on as he is not getting any younger.

Renerio Baya is a software consultant of Esprint Software, Mandaue City. He is a CPA and a graduate of Ateneo de Zamboanga.

There were two other new members but their application forms are currently not available. I will introduce them next week.

Rose Open Tournament director and arbiter Marvin Ruelan announced that the Rose Open tourney will start tomorrow up to Sunday at the Mabolo Sports Center starting at 1 p.m. Total prizes to be awarded is P8,000. Format is 7 rounds Swiss with time control set at 40 minutes per player, play to finish. Registration is P100.

TALISAY. Their monthly tourney will also start tomorrow 11 a.m. at South Central Square, Lawaan. Format is seven rounds Swiss with time control of 30 minutes. Registration is free for Kiddies, P50 for juniors and P80 for 23 and above.

Sponsors are Cepca members Jojo Paredes, Jongjong Melendez, Richard Abangan and Mer Fernandez. Other sponsors are Baylon Tolentin, Pepsi-Cola and the Rural Bank of Carmen.

OPEN. Watch for the Cepca Invitational Blitz tournament tentatively scheduled on Aug. 3, next month. Those who will play will be 12 to 15 selected players from Cepca and 20 invited players. Total prize money is P8,000.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Controversies hound RP chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE national chess scene is being rocked by controversies and it involves the major players of the land. Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio relinquished their participation in the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany on Nov. 12 to 25 by not participating in the grand finals to select the members of the team. It is being held in the Kaban ng Hiyas Bldg. in Mandaluyong and started last July 1.

GM Eugene Torre issued an official statement that he does not have anything against the National Chess Federation of the Philippines’ (NCFP) regulation not to seed top players for the Olympiad. “It’s only fair, let’s give chance to others, especially the young. But if they still need my services, I would be very much willing to play for the country,” said Torre.

“We want all the players, regardless of their titles (GMs, IMs or NMs) to participate in the qualifying tournament and earn their spots in the national team. We will not tolerate the old practice of seeding top players to the team,” said NCFP president Prospero Pichay in a short speech during the opening ceremony.

GMs Mark Paragua and Darwin Laylo returned to the country from the United States to be able to compete in the tournament. Also playing are Dubai Open champion GM Wesley So, GM-elect Jayson Gonzales, GM Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor and a host of IMs and NMs..

Twelve players, led by top female player Catherine Perena and semifinal round winner Kimberly Jane Cunanan are seeing action in the women’s division.

RATINGS. Fide recently released its July, 2008 ratings and the top Filipino player is 14-year-old Wesley So at 2577. Eugene Torre and Jayson Gonzales are tied for second and third with identical 2524. Paragua is rated 2523, Antonio has 2516 and Laylo is at 2504.

It is very lamentable that Eugene is not playing. Eugene established a record when he made his 19th consecutive appearance in the 2006 Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy and moves just one short of tying the all-time record for most appearances held by the legendary Lajos Portisch of Hungary.

Another controversy involving the top guns is the opinion issued by Honorary Fide president Florencio Campomanes Thursday questioning “the decision of the NCFP to enter into a contract with a Singapore-based group for the holding of at least four RP Opens in the next two years.”

During the Asean Chess Confederation board meeting in Vietnam, the NCFP, through president Prospero Pichay, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Singapore-based Intchess Asia to manage all its international competitions in the next two years, including four RP Opens.

“We cannot just give the right to organize such big, national events to a group with no proven expertise in such undertaking,” Campomanes said.

NEW INTERNET CONNECTION. My last three articles were written at the Internet Café of good friend Edmund Suralta as I had no internet connection in the house. To a columnist, having no internet is like a cowboy without a horse or a farmer without a plow. It diminishes the quality of the article, makes it time consuming, expensive and causes anxiety and a lot of hassle.

I finally decided to change my internet provider and now I can play online chess and poker in my favorite websites at the times most favorable. Many thanks to Stella Gran, the Business Specialist of PLDT who delivered what she promised besides being such a nice smart lady and the contractor, Benjo Daraman.

CEPCA. Our monthly tournament will be held this July 13, at the Deep Blue Café in SM starting at 2 p.m. Format is five rounds Swiss and time control will be based on the classification of the member as A,B and C. New members are welcome. I am also requesting all those who will play to bring a 1x1 picture for our new ID.

The venue for the Kiddies and Juniors will be on July 12 at the Opascor Bldg. In front of M. Lhuiller Main office at 1 p.m. Format is seven rounds Swiss

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Campomanes receives highest award

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I HAD a surprise visitor at Handuraw a few days ago and it was no less than the honorary president of Fide himself, Florencio Campomanes, who has spent most of his life with the game. I consider him to be primarily responsible for the current popularity of the game worldwide and expanding Fide membership that now includes most of the countries in the United Nations and more.

He is eyeing the island countries of the Pacific as the next step to really make chess global. The countries number almost a dozen with Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga and Palau among them.

He recently received the Spirit of Sports award from the General Association of International Sports Association, which comprises all sports under the International Olympic Committee. This is the highest honor that can be awarded to an individual, much like the Nobel Prize, but without any monetary consideration. Among the previous awardees were former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Together with the current President of Cepca, Nato Casia, we spent the whole evening playing chess and discussing chess politics.

Also, his contributions and involvement in the development of chess for more than half a century earned him the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philippine Sportswriters Association.

The distinctive honor was awarded to the 80-year-old gentleman last Jan. 18, 2007. “Mr. Campomanes deserves this Lifetime Achievement Award,” said PSA ‘s Jimmy Cantor of Malaya.

Along the way, Campo has his share of controversies on all fronts, local, national and international.

Here are some excerpts from an article in Chessbase by the webmaster of Fide, Casto Abundo, who knows him very well.

“Graduating cum laude from the University of the Philippines in 1948, Florencio Campomanes was among the first Fulbright Scholars from the Philippines and was taking his Masters Degree in Political Science from Brown University and Doctoral Studies in Georgetown University, both in America, when he heard of the World Chess Federation. It was auspicious that his thesis was on the nascent United Nations.

Campo was a habitué at the Manhattan and Marshall Chess Clubs. He was exposed to organized chess and on his return to Manila co-founded the Philippine Chess Federation and affiliated with FIDE in 1956.

In 1967, Campo invited Bobby Fischer for a series of matches in the Philippines. Years later when Fischer opened the first Philippines International Chess Tournament in Manila in 1973, he was asked why he turned down all other official invitations after he became World Champion and accepted only the one from the Philippines. “I was there in ‘67. I was not champion then, but they treated me like a champion,” Fischer explained.

Campo was the first chess columnist in major Philippine dailies, the Manila Times (1954-56) and Manila Chronicle (1956-1961). He also produced and hosted the first daily TV program “Chess Today” from 1973 to 1982. He was the Philippine Delegate to Fide from 1956 to 1982, Asian Zone President 1960-1964, Deputy President 1974-1982 and Fide President from 1982 to 1995, Fide Chairman 1995-1996 and Honorary President since 1996.

An avid player, Campo was Philippine champion in 1956 and 1960, and tied for second with Edmar Mednis in the 1954 New York State Championship.”

A case was filed against Campo in Manila due to the hosting of the1992 Manila Chess Olympiad. Last December, the Supreme Court unanimously cleared him of all charges. “I took no short cuts and kept my sanity and my sense of humor for 10 years. It was only a matter of a fine of around 100 Euros, but I refused to accept the verdict,” Campo said.

Simul games and the worst record

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

SIMULTANEOUS exhibition (often abbreviated to “simul”) is an event where a very strong player (commonly a grandmaster) plays multiple games at the same time with selected players, usually below master strength and club members.

In Cepca, thru the years, we have invited several masters to play with us and here are some of them (al lGMs); Eugene Torre, James Sunye-Neto of Brazil, Walter Arencibia of Cuba, Jorge Hickl of Germany, Ye Rong Guang of China, the late Edmar Mednis of the US and the late Alexander Wojtkiewiez of Poland.

Edmar Mednis was a respected American author of several books and was born in Riga, Latvia. He migrated to the US after the war and was the first person to beat Bobby Fischer in the US Open. He became famous during the 1972 Spassky vs. Fischer “Match of the Century” when he served as analyst of the games which was televised in the US and some countries that propelled chess to new heights. He suffered a fatal heart attack in 2002 at Woodside, Queens, New York.

He was our guest in Cebu in 1996.

GM Alexander Wojtkiewiez was born in Latvia, but was Polish by nationality. He was a great chess talent in his teens, but his career was interrupted when he was imprisoned for refusing to join the Soviet Army. In 1986 he moved to Poland and later took residence in the US, becoming one of the most active tournament players in the world. He died on July 14, 2006. He was our guest in 1998 and was a regular guy, fond of the ice cold beer and karaoke.

Walter Arencibia is from Cuba who won the 1986 World Juniors. He become a grandmaster in 1990 and was our guest in the same year after the Inter-Zonals in Manila.

He has also represented his country at several Olympiads from 1986 to 2006. His current rating is 2555 which places him third in Cuba and 306th in the world. I have very fond memories of him together with Alex Tolentino.

In a regular simul, no chess clocks are used. The exhibitor walks from board to board in a fixed order. Usually the boards are arranged in a large circle or square. The opponents are expected to make a move when the exhibitor arrives at the board.

In clock simuls all the games are played as normal tournament games, timed by a clock, apart from the fact that the exhibitor is playing on all boards.

Time pressure can become quite severe in such simuls. The most famous Clock Simul was when World Champion Garry Kasparov played the Olympiad team of Germany, who were all strong grandmasters.

The new world record is by GM Susan Polgar for 326 Simultaneous Games Played with a 96 percent win rate in Palm Beach, Florida on Aug. 1, 2005.

Her opponents ranged from 4-year-old Hannah Boshell, who lasted one more round than her older sister, Hunter, to 95-year-old Jona Lerman, who’s been playing the game for more than eight decades.

The Worst Performance ever is by Joe Hayden, 17, who challenged 180 persons to play simultaneous games against him at a shopping center in Cardiff, N.J. in August, 1977. Only 20 showed up, of whom 18 beat him, including Stowell Fulton, 7, who needed only a few moves. Hayden’s two wins were against a man who grew tired of waiting between moves and withdrew—and Hayden’s own mother.

In 1910 the Austrian master, Josef Krejcik, gave a simultaneous display at Linz on 25 boards and lost every single game.

Cepca results. Lawyer Gaudioso “Jongjong” Melendez won the June edition of the Club with five straight wins at the Deep Blue Café SM City last weekend. Second placer was Miguel Banebane with 4 points. Tied at third and fourth spots were Joe Atillo and Nic Cuizon. Mandy Baria and Felix Balbona each scored 3 points to tie at fifth to sixth.