Friday, February 22, 2008

Ex-UC varsity, Sanchez, is first Cebuano GM

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

CEBUANO Joseph Sanchez, 37, tied for first in the just concluded Festival des Jeux International Chess Tournament in Cannes, France with seven points after nine rounds to snare his third and final GM norm.

His rating is now 2492 and is expected to breach the 2500 Elo level to formally be declared a grandmaster.

“Yes, Joseph Sanchez made GM norm!” said Damir Levacic , director of the Cannes Chess Club.

I remember him in the 90’s as a soft-spoken young lad who was a varsity and athlete- scholar of the University of Cebu under then coach, my cousin, Friday de la Victoria and Romeo Romagos.

He finished Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation in 1994 and went to Manila where he became the mentor of rising star Mark Paragua. Next thing I heard, he ventured abroad and stayed for a while in Italy where he achieved the International Master status.

He is now based in France, being married to a Pinay nurse working there. As an alumnus of UC, he should be considered one of that school’s finest achievement. If you ask me, it’s a much bigger achievement than topping the bar exams.

LINARES. Aside from the Olympiad, the most sought participation in the chess calendar are Wijk Aan Zee (Corus) and Morelia–Linares.

The traditional Linares Tournament, which, starting 2006 has been split in two, is also known as the “Wimbledon” of chess and the winner in this competition will be considered the unofficial World Champion of the year. The first round robin competition was held in Morelia, Mexico from Feb. 17-25 and the second half was held from March 2-10 in Linares, Spain.

The participants in this year’s edition are Viswanathan Anand (India, 38, 2801), Vasssily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 38, 2787), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria, 32, 2769),Peter Leko (Hungary, 29, 2755), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan, 21, 2742), Levon Aronian (Armenia, 25, 2741), Alexei Shirov (Spain, 35, 2739) and the winner of Corus 2008 last month in a tie with Aronian, Magnus Carlsen (Norway, 17, 2717).

There were a total of 11 decisive results out of the first 20 games, which is exceptional, as top level chess are mostly draws. Anand leads with 3.5 points after five rounds.

NEW MEMBERS. I would like to introduce to the chess community in Cebu the following new members of Cepca:

Ramon Tapia is both a civil and chemical engineer. He has been with Ong Kin King for 19 years as production manager of its laundry soap and baking powder plant. His passion is chess and computer programming. He developed the CRM (customer relationship management) of Trans Asia Shipping Lines and the database programs of David‘s Saloon, Jayme Enterprises, Dr. David Alesna, Dr. Patricia Coronel, etc.

Jorge Gabriente of Mandaue City is a lawyer and department manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Cebu (MCWD), billing section. He is 42 years old, married with two children and the Board 1 player of the MCWD chess team. He immediately made his mark when he tied for third in our February tournament.

Byrone Pabilona is connected with San Miguel Brewery Plant as HR assistant. He is an Economics graduate of the University of San Carlos. He likes chess because “It exercises the mind and allows one to formulate strategies in a short period of time.” He idolizes Bobby Fischer and Mikhael Tal. He says chess can be played on equal footing, i.e. man vs. woman, child vs. adult etc.

Edgar Padolina is an old timer of chess in Cebu and is a contemporary of Mike Banibane in the military where he retired after 30 years of service with the Philippine Navy and eventually with the Coast Guard.

Congrats to Rene Casia for being elected the 16th president of Cepca!

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