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.

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