Friday, February 13, 2009

Bitoon starts search for final GM norm

Frank “Boy” PestañoChessmoso

THREE exciting events will start next week. Two are major tournaments and the third is significant to us because four Pinoys are competing, Wonder Boy Wesley So and Cebuano Richard Bitoon, who is seeking his third and final GM norm.

The other two are young talents Haridas Pascua and Jan Emmanuel Garcia. They will be playing in the 2009 Aeroflot Open in Moscow, which starts Feb. 16.

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This is the strongest tournament that Wesley will be contesting thus far and he will be tested to the limit. He will be playing in the A1 Group, whose members have ratings of at least 2550. There are a lot of players who are rated higher than Wesley (live rating -2647) and it will be a major achievement if he finishes in the top five and even more so if he wins the tournament.

The winner in this group will be invited to play in Dortmund, Germany (July 2 to 16) this year against the likes of Veselin Topalov, World Champion Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik and the rest of the 2700s gang.

In the A2 Group, which is for players rated between 2400-2550, Richard will be seeking his third and final norm and if he succeeds, he will be the first Cebuano GM to have that distinction.

Pascua and Garcia will be playing in the B Group for players rated 2199-2399, which will be a good experience for these talented youngsters.

The winner in Group A1 will take home 21,000 Euros, while the winner in A2 will earn 9,000 Euros. The B3 winner will take home 3,500 Euros.

I am a little bit disappointed though as I was expecting our Kimkim Yap to be a part of this group.

TOPALOV-KAMSKY. Also on Feb. 16, the match featuring Veselin Topalov vs. Gata Kamsky, officially dubbed “World
Chess Challenge Sofia 2009” will be played in Bulgaria. It has a prize fund of $250,000 which will be divided equally between the two.

The Challenger’s Match will consist of eight games and possible tie-breaks. The winner qualifies for the World Championship Match 2009 against Anand of India later this year.

Kamsky and Topalov have played eight games against each other. The first and the last two ended in draws, while Topalov won the rest.

Topalov is the clear favorite. He’s the current world no. 1 with a rating of 2796 (2809 in the live ratings), while Kamsky is 17th at 2725 (2723 in the live ratings).

Linares 2009. The XXVI Linares 2009 tournament will take place in Spain on Feb. 18 to March 8 and is considered the “Wimbledon of chess.” The champion will take home 100,000 Euros and the second and third placers will earn 75,000 and 50,000 Euros, respectively.

World Champion Anand defends his title after winning the event last year. Other players are Wang Yue, Teimour Radjabov, Vassily Ivanchuk, Magnus Carlsen, Alexander Grischuk, Leinier Dominguez Perez and Levon Aronian. Format is double round robin.

Speaking of Aronian, his girlfriend Arianne Caoili, who has a WIM title and is a celebrity in Dancing with the Stars, was seen in the Corus tournament last month. She is a Filipina-Aussie mestiza famous for her beauty. She played for the Philippines in several Olympiads but is now a resident of Australia.

Pasil. The tournament was played last Feb. 8 at Brgy. Pasil Sports Complex.

The winners are NM Enriquez Rogelio (champion, 6.0 points), IM Kim Steven Yap (second place, 5.5), FM Anthony Makinano (third place, 5.5), Rosendo Yamyamin (fourth place, 5.5), Dennis Navalez (fifth place, 5.0), Venancio Loyola (sixth place, 5.0), Eden Diano (seventh place, 4.5), Joselito Loquez (eighth place, 4.5). The best junior player was Marq Balbona and the best female was Phoebelyn Bitoon.

Many thanks to the committee members of Brgy. Pasil, the organizer Richie Evardo and also to the arbiter, Vicmeil Pepito for making the tournament a success.

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