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.