Friday, November 21, 2008

The most popular sport on the planet

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IF YOU have any doubts as to what is the most popular sport in the planet, go no further than the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany. The official website has registered an average 60 million hits everyday and is expected to reach 80 million as we approach the final rounds. Daily visitors also average 31,000.

This is not surprising as Fide has estimated that the total chess players all over the world is about 700 million . The game is particularly popular in the Philippines and it
seems that all chess players talk about here in Cebu is Wesley So and company.

Unlike the previous Olympiads where results were based on board points, in Dresden, results are based on matches with a win worth two points, a draw worth one point and no point for a loss. After six rounds, the RP men’s team has three wins, one draw and two losses or 7 points. We are tied with 16 other countries from 41st to 57th place.

After the sixth round, Armenia and Russia were in the lead with 11 points, followed by Germany 1, Ukraine, India, Israel, France, China and Romania. In the Women’s section, China beat Hungary to take a two-point lead over Russia, Netherlands, Ukraine, USA and Poland , which are in second place.

Let’s review the individual Men’s results. Bong Villamayor at Board 1 has only a point to show after four rounds. While this is understandable as he has to play the best player from the opposing team, I believe that Eugene Torre could have done better. Wesley So had two wins and three draws, Jayson Gonzales is off with only half point in four games, John Paul Gomez is the best scorer with three wins and three draws, while Darwin Laylo has two wins, a draw and two losses.

The Women’s team has a star in Chardine Cheradee Camacho at Board 4, who had four wins and two draws, while others were struggling with Catherine Perena managing only a point, Shercila Cua had two, Daisy Rivera with one and Christy Lamiel Bernales with three points.

The women’s team has 5.0 points on two wins over Yemen (3.5-05) and New Zealand; a draw with Lithuania (2.0-2.0); and three losses to Greece (1.5-2.5) and Belarus (0.5-3.5) and Sweden (1.5-2.5).

Our Men’s opponent in the seventh round is Belgium, which is a relatively weak team with no GMs and composed of the following players, all IMs: Richard Polaczek (2419), Efrem Cekro (2419), FM Cemil Gulbas (2371), IM Daniyal Saibolatov (2360) and IM Bruno Laurent (2370).

Here are the Men’s round by round team performance: We lost to No.3 rated China, 1.5-2.5, with Wesley scoring a major upset of Ni Hua (2710); defeated Algeria, 2.5-1.5; won over Monaco, 2.5-1.5; drew with Greece, 2-2; edged Iran, 2.5-1.5 and lost to powerhouse Spain, 1-3.

When the Philippines found out that its sixth round opponent will be Spain, the 15-year-old So asked team captain Eugene Torre if he could play Alexei Shirov (2726), the Board 1 player of Spain. Non-playing team captain Eugene Torre and GM Bong Villamayor obliged.

“It’ll be exciting to play Alexei,” said So, who will be taking Bong’s place on Board 1. “It’ll be a nice opportunity to take on one of the best players in the world on this stage.”

So showed maturity with a fighting draw against the 2007 finalist of the World Cup.

SINLUOG CHESS. Cepca is planning to hold an Open Team tournament this Sinulog 2009 and we hope to finalize this with the sponsor within next week. Each team will consist of four regular players and one alternate.

A team must only have only one titled player and must have a Cepca member as a regular player (not an alternate). An exception though are out of town teams who can play without a Cepca member.

If this tournament will materialize, the total pot money is P63,000 with P25,000 going to the champion.

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