Friday, April 25, 2008

Chess in stamps

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

STAMP collecting is probably the most popular hobby in the world with estimates of up to 35 million adherents worldwide. I used to collect stamps while I was in high school and was able to almost fill up two albums. I did not specialize, which is the common practice today among typical collectors.

Some of the most popular topics are animals, flowers, politicians, butterflies etc. Many countries have issued stamps that feature their athletes, leaders, flags, flora and fauna. You can learn a lot about a country’s history by collecting their stamps.

Another topical collection might center on sports and among the strong specialty area are chess stamps. Over 140 nations have issued chess stamps but surprisingly, the Unites States is not one of them.

The Philippines has issued several chess stamps. The first was in 1962 which featured our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, playing chess priced at 10 centavos.

The second is the same stamp with an overprint celebrating the inauguration of President Ferdinand Marcos and Vice-President Fernando Lopez in 1965.

Remember the Anatoly Karpov vs. Victor Korchnoi World Chess Championship in Bagiuo City in1978? Two postage stamps were issued to cover the event with amounts of 30 centavos and P2 .

The 1992 Manila Chess Olympiad was also covered with two stamps priced at P2 and P6. I remember it was held at the Philippine International Convention Center and was probably the best Olympiad ever.

The original “Jose Rizal playing chess” was again reissued in 2000 priced at P5 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the APO philatelic Society.

In 2005, three sports stamps were issued to commemorate the 23rd Southeast Asian Games and one of them featured a chess board priced at P6.

The first chess stamp, is one of a set of five issued to commemorate the 1947 Balkan Games, held in Bulgaria, in which chess was one of the sports.

Hungary was the winner of the chess competition, with a team comprising Bakonyi, Benko, Barcza, Florian, Fuster, Gereban, Szabo, and Szny.

The second set of chess stamps commemorated the 18th official World Chess Championship held in The Hague, Netherlands, March 1-25, and in Moscow, April 10-18, 1948. The tournament was held as a result of the death of the champion , Alexander Alekhine on March 24, 1946, and was between Botvinnik, Euwe, Keres, Reshevsky, and Smyslov. Each player played each other five times. Mikhail Botvinnik of the USSR, was the winner.

Among the most popular chess stamps sought after by collectors is a set of six chess stamps issued by Cuba in 1951 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the defeat of Emmanuelle Lasker by Jose Capablanca in 1921.

The chess stamps issued by Romania in 1963 are highly priced now and are rare because of imperfections in printing. These are being auctioned on e-bay.

Talisay and Cepca. The Talisay Chess Club led by its president Atty. Richard Abangan and secretary Manny Manzanares, a former Cepca president, will be holding a weekly tournament at their clubhouse in San Roque proper every Sunday starting May 4. Format is seven rounds Swiss with a time control of 15 minutes per player, play to finish.

Also, the Club’s monthly contest will be at the Talisay South Central Square, Lawaan on May 10 to 11. It is also a seven rounds Swiss but with a longer time control of 30 minutes. Cash prizes are at stake for both tournaments. For registration contact Manny at 0915-720-6457.

Tournament director Joe Atillo has announced that the April tournament of Cepca will be this Sunday April 27 at Deep Blue SM and starts at 1 p.m. Kiddies and Juniors will be on the same date and venue but begins at 10:30 a.m.

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