Friday, March 28, 2008

Tournament updates

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE 17th Amber Rapid and Blindfold Chess Tournament is taking place at the Hotel Palais de la Mediterranée on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice from March 14-28. Twelve grandmasters from 10 different countries are taking part in the competition, which dangles a total prize-fund of 216,000 Euros or $336,000. It is a major tournament in the chess calendar and is annually sponsored by Dutch billionaire Joop van Oosterom in honor of his daughter, Melody Amber.

Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian and Alexander Morozevich are tied for the lead with 5.5/9 points in the blindfold category, while Aronian has a massive two-point lead over Ivanchuk, Carlsen and Leko in the rapids. Here are the standings after nine rounds.

Blindfold—1 to 3 with 5.5 points Kramnik (2799), Aronian (2739), Morozevich (2765); 4 to 6 with 5.0 points Veselin Topalov (2780), Peter Leko (2753), Magnus Carlsen (2733); 7 to 8 with 4.5 points Viswanathan Anand (2799), Vassily Ivanchuk (2751); 9 to 10 with 4.0 points Sergey Karjakin (2732) and Loek Van Wely (2681).

Rapid—1.) Aronian with seven points; 2 to 4 with five points, Ivanchuk, Carlsen and Leko; 5 to 7 with 4.5 points, Kramnik, Anand and Topalov; 8 to 10 with three points Gelfand, Mamedyarov and Karjakin.

WOMEN MASTERS. The youngest participant, who just turned 14 years old, won the Ataturk International Chess Tournament with a full point lead and a performance rating of 2674. It is one of the strongest women-only contests in recent years and it was Hou Yifan of China who proved why she is considered a future women champion.

The total drawing results of the tournament was very low, with just 18 percent of the games ending undecided. Forty percent of the games were decided in White’s favor, 10 ended in a full point for Black.

1.) Hou Yifan (China, 2527, 7.0), 2.) Pia Cramling (Sweden 6.0), 3.) Zhao xue (China, 2517, 5.5), 4.) Ekaterina Atalik (Turkey, 2408, 5.0), 5.) Lela Javakhisvili (Georgia, 2470, 4.5); 6 to 7 with 4.0 points Harika Dronavalli (India, 2455) and Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2548); 8 to 9 with 3.0 points Anna Ushenina (Ukraine, 2484) and Irina Krush (2473) 10.) Betul Cemre Yildiz (Turkey, 2207, 2.5)

FOXWOODS OPEN. Mark Paragua of the Philippines drew his ninth and final round vs. GM Keith Arkell of England to finish in a tie for ninth to 17th places in the just concluded 2008 Foxwoods International Open Chess Championships yesterday in Connecticut, USA. The New York based Paragua had 6.0 points with five wins, two draws and two losses in nine games of play and finished 13th place over-all after the tie break points was applied. GM Shulman took the title after a play-off with GM Ivanov.

3rd CALCUTTA OPEN UPDATES. International Master Rolando Nolte won his first two assignments and moved to Round 3 where he will next face Indian GM Das Neelotpal, who played in last year’s Asian Championship in Mandaue.

IM Chito Garma won against Rajpara Ankit of India in Round 2 after a drawn first game. He is set to play the 2007 World Junior Champ Ahmed Adly of Egypt.

NM Barbosa drew India’s Super GM Krishnan Sasikiran (2677) in Round 2 after demolishing Mishra Swayams of India. The tournament will end on April 2.

2008 SYDNEY OPEN UPDATES. GM Rogelio Antonio defeated Fil-Aussie Edsil Dilla in Round 2 of the 2008 Sydney Open Chess in New South Wales, Australia.

GM Antonio is sharing the top spot along with 22 other participants led by top seed Super GM Zhang Zhong of Singapore.

Filipino Round 1 winners lost their second round assignments. Catherine Perena lost to IM Zhao Zong-Yuan; Ramon Manan-og was defeated by GM Dejan Antic; Shirily Cua bowed to IM Stepen Solomon and Kimberly Jane Cunanan succumbed to FM Metz Hartmut.

The contest started March 25 and will end on the 29th. It adopts a nine-round Swiss format.

CEPCA MARCH EDITION. Newcomer Felix Palaypoy was the winner in last weekend’s competition at the Deep Blue Café at SM. His runners up were Mandy Baria, Jessa Balbona and Nic Cuizon.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tournaments from all fronts

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

MORELIA/LINARES, the “Wimbledon” of chess and traditionally considered as the unofficial championship of the year, had just finished and the winner was the highest-ranked player, Vishy Anand.

The surprise of the tournament though was the second place finish of 17-year-old, Magnus Carlsen, considered by many as the new Fischer and is expected to claim the No.4 ranking in the next Fide ratings in April.

Most of the games were bitterly contested as 22 games were decided out of 56, which is extraordinary in a caliber of this level, as all the players were over 2700 Elo.

Here are the final results: 1.) Anand (India, 2799, 8.5) 2. Carlsen (Norway, 2733, 8.0), 3. Levon Aronian (Armenia, 2739, 7.5), 4. Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria, 2780, 7.5), 5.) Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan, 2735, 7.0), 6.) Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2751, 6.5), 7.) Peter Leko (Hungary, 2753, 5.5), 8.) Alexei Shirov (Spain, 2755, 5.5).

We have two big ongoing competitions now. One of them is an all-women contest, which is long overdue as most tournaments nowadays are usually for men.

Here are the results of the first round of the Is Bankasi-Ataturk International Women Masters Chess Tournament held in Istanbul, Turkey, which saw every game reaching a decision: Irina Krush (USA, 2475)-Zhu Chen (Qatar, 2548), 1-0; Ekaterina Atalik (Turkey, 2404)-Harika Dronavalli (India, 2455), 1-0; Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia, 2470)-Zhao Xue (China, 2530), 1-0; Ushenina Anna (Ukraine, 2486)-Yifan Hou (China, 2527), 0-1; Yildiz Betul Cemre (Turkey, 2220)-Cramling Pia (Sweden, 2524), 0-1.

The Reykjavik Chess Festival is being held in memory of Bobby Fischer and has an open section and a special invitational tournament composed of Fischer’s contemporaries namely Pal Benkö, Vlastimil Hort, Lajos Portisch and Friðrik Ólafsson. Arbiter is Boris Spassky and the commentator is William Lombardy, Fischer’s second in the Match of the Century.

Starting Sunday, the 17th Melody Amber will start in Nice with the 12 top grand masters from 10 countries participating. Playing are Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Veselin Topalov, Alexander Morozevich, Shakhriyaz Mamedyarov, Peter Leko, Vassily Ivanchuk, Levon Aronian, Boris Gelfand, Magnus Carlsen, Sergey Karjakin and Loek Van Wely.

The Amber Tournament is one of the most prestigious in the chess calendar and the only one where half of the games are played with blindfold.

BATTLE OF PINOY GMs. The NCFP’s “Battle of Grandmasters,” will be held from April 19 to 30 and will feature GMs Rogelio Antonio Jr., Eugenio Torre, Wesley So, Jayson Gonzales, Bong Villamayor and Nelson Mariano II. International Masters John Paul Gomez, Julio Catalino Sadorra and Rolando Salvador will also be invited. There is, however, no mention of Mark Paragua and Darwin Laylo playing, our two other GMs.

Cash prizes and trophies will be at stake with the champion getting the lion’s share of P200,000. The first runnerup will get P150,000, while the second runnerup will pocket P100,000. The fourth prize winner will receive P75,000, while P50,000 will be given to the fifth placer. No one will go home empty-handed as P30,000 will be given to the rest.

INTER-BARANGAY. The Mandaue Inter-Barangay chess team competition will start tomorrow and is open to Mandaue residents only. It will start at 3 p.m. in front of the City Hall. Time control is one hour per player, play to finish and will be a single round robin. The champion will receive P8,000 plus trophy, while runners up will get P5,000 and P3,000 respectively.

The team composition will be four regular players with two alternates.

CEPCA. The kiddies and juniors competition will be this Sunday, March 16, at the Deep Blue Café at SM City Cebu starting at 1 p.m. The regular members’ monthly contest will be on March 23 at the same venue.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Chess-playing IT billionaires

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

PROBABLY the strongest chess-playing billionaire is Joop von Oosterom, the legendary sponsor of one of the most prestigious tournaments in the chess calendar, Melody Amber.

I “guesstimate” Joop‘s playing strength about 2400 or even higher and his forte is correspondence chess where he is the 18th and 21st World Correspondence Champion. He founded the IT company Volmac and is estimated to be worth 1 billion euros.

Many people do not know it, but a lot of wealth in Silicon Valley is built by very strong chess players, which is not surprising.

Paul Allen is an avid chess player and co-founder of Microsoft together with another chess player, Bill Gates (whom I featured previously to be worth $56 billion) and estimated by Forbes to be worth $28 billion. Microsoft is in the limelight lately with an offer to buyout Yahoo for $41.7 billion.

He has investments in Vulcan Inc., Charter Communications, Digeo etc. and owns the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA.

He plays regular chess with his college roommate, Bert Kolde, the chief operating officer of Digeo.

Lawrence Elison is the co-founder and CEO of Oracle, a major enterprise software company. His net worth is estimated at $26 billion. Oracle is the world’s second largest software company after Microsoft.

He used to play tournament chess and says he puts a lot of time on his game.

Roelof Botha is a venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital focusing on services and software investments. Prior to that, he was chief financial officer of PayPal (e-bay) and funded YouTube before it was sold to Google for $1.65 billion. He also sits on the board of Meebo and Xoom. He plays master level chess.

Peter Andreas Thiel is a hedge fund manager, and venture capitalist. With Max Levchin, he co-founded PayPal and was its CEO. He currently serves as president of Clarium Capital Management LLC, a global macro hedge fund with nearly $3 billion under management.He also sits on the company’s Board of Directors of Facebook. He was at one time a promising chess player.

Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar was fascinated by chess and spent some time studying the game . One of the first web-based programs he wrote was chess-by-mail service. Ebay is an online auction and shopping website where people can buy and sell goods and services worldwide.

Michel Birch is co-founder and chief CEO of the mega social network Bebo. He hosts the “Chess 2.0” Silicon Valley Chess Club at the Bebo office in San Francisco. Bebo, like MySpace, provides its more than 23 million users with a kind of prosthetic personality extension: a profile page where they can post diary entries, photographs, music, homemade video etc.

The well-hyped search company Powerset is headed by co-founder and CEO Barney Pell who happens to be a very strong chess player. Powerset is a natural language search engine trying to challenge Google.

David Cowan of Bessemer Ventures is a self-admitted “chess nerd” who joined Bessemer Venture Partners in 1992. He has since made 45 early-stage investments for Bessemer, including 19 that have gone public, and 18 that have been acquired by public companies. The first Forbes Midas List ranked David among the world’s top 10 venture investors. He says that he is addicted to Yahoo chess.

Auren Hoffman has already built and sold several companies in Silicon Valley and is now working on his fourth, RapLeaf, where he is founder and CEO. Among his pastimes are football and chess.

Cepca news. Joe Atillo, tournament director of the club, has announced that our March competition will be on March 16 at Deep Blue SM starting at 1 p.m.

Kiddies and Juniors will be on March 23 same time and venue.