Friday, May 29, 2009

World Cup, chess in schools and San Roque

THE World Cup will be held in Khanty Mansiyk, Russia from Nov. 20-Dec. 15 this year. The tournament is a knockout event of 128 players and is a qualifier to the World Championship.

The 10 qualifiers in the just-concluded Asian Continental Championship in Subic are:

1) Ganguly Surya Shekhar IND; 2) Zhou Weiqi CHN; 3) Yu Yangyi CHN; 4) Yu Shaoteng CHN; 5) Le Quang Liem VIE; 6) Antonio Rogelio Jr. PHI; 7) Hou Yifan CHN; 8) Zhou Jianchao CHN; 9) Sandipan Chanda IND; 10) Sasikiran Krishnan IND.

A big disappointment was our Wesley So, 15, who had too many draws against players rated 2400+ and the venerable Eugene Torre. Both needed to win in the last round, but fell short. In fact, in this tournament, Wesley lost more than 30 Elo in the live ratings with a performance of 2568 in just 4 wins, 5 draws and 2 losses—his worst since he became GM.

Joey Antonio was never thought to be among the favorites, but he played better than all Filipinos and was even solo leader of the tournament after Round 9.

My favorite, Hou Yifan, girl wonder and only 15 years old, easily proved that she could be the next Judit Polgar.

The qualifying eliminations to the Women’s World Championship was also dominated by the Chinese.

There are notable accomplishments by Chardine Cheradee Camacho, who is now a WIM-elect, and Sherily Cua, who snared a WIM Norm. I predicted some time ago that 15-year-old Chardine will be our first woman GM.

India and China are the dominant chess powers in Asia now and at least 10 years ahead of the Philippines—but not for long, though.

Chess in Schools As every chess player knows by now, chess will be a part of the curriculum starting October this year.

So that all may know, the man primarily responsible for this very laudable project is Brother Rolando Dizon, former president of De La Salle University and chairman of the Commission on Higher Education and an officer of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Of course, PGMA was also an avid chess player while still young, having lived in Iligan where the game is very popular. With Butch Pichay heading NCFP, you could not find a better person.

In the Philippine public school system, there are around 35,000 grade schools and some 6,000 high schools. There are over 2,000 private high schools. Brother Dizon said they aim to train 35,000 chess teachers by November 2009.

THINK LIKE A KING school chess software system has been named the official scholastic software of the United States Chess Federation and is used across the USA and several countries. They can be contacted at and by email at

The NCFP Chess in Schools Committee is composed of Fide delegate Casto Abundo,Roly Dizon, Saturnino Belen, Bobby Bautista, Bong Villamayor and Jessie Sanchez.

“Chess is a game that improves individual organizational and analytical skills. Children, when exposed to this game at an early age, achieve academically better, or even faster than those who have not been engaged in the game. Likewise, chess is among the activities that help build memory skills, concentration, self-confidence, self-esteem and making disciplined decisions. Playing chess provides opportunities to practice such values as perseverance, honesty and sportsmanship,” Sec. Jesle Lapus stated.

San Roque. Manny Manzanares announced that there will be a competition among kiddies and juniors in the barangay hall of San Roque, Talisay City tomorrow, May 30. Invited are those aged 17 and below.

This is just one of the projects of Barangay Captain Antonio Cabrera for the youth.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chess etiquette

READY for tournament play? Want to be a member of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca)?

There are some official and unofficial rules of etiquette to follow. The general guideline is to be a good sport and to be respectful. Some of the more common rules are:

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Every game must begin with the players shaking hands.

Never do anything to distract any other player in the tournament, especially your opponent.

Talking should be kept to a minimum. Chess is a game of concentration and a quiet atmosphere is necessary.

Always use the “touch move” rule.

If an illegal move is made, the tournament arbiter should be summoned.

Never gloat over a victory, or become despondent or hostile following a defeat.

If you’re playing with a clock, don’t forget to use the same hand to both move your piece and hit the clock.

If your flag falls and your opponent points it out, you lose.

Period. It is exactly the same as if you were checkmated.

Never comment on a game that is in progress, whether the game is yours or one that you are just watching.

After the game, shake hands again. Both players should say something like “Good game” or “Nicely done.”

If you have recorded the game or otherwise, remember the moves or a critical position, it’s nice to offer to analyze the game after it has been completed.

The tournament director has the authority to punish breaches of etiquette, and may add or subtract time as a sanction. In extreme cases, players may be forfeited for violating the rules and spectators may be banned from the site.

These rules of etiquette generally apply to tournaments.

During club meetings, always greet and welcome new players to the club so that they feel comfortable.

When an experienced club member plays a beginner, it is considered good sportsmanship to help the new player by pointing out better moves and letting them take their moves back.

If you’re playing with your best friend, the rules may be relaxed somewhat, and you both may feel comfortable passing insults back and forth. If you get in this habit, though, be aware that a random stranger is very unlikely to be amused by this behavior.

Never, ever accuse your opponent of something they didn’t do or lie about your move in order to save a piece. Chess is a game of honor. People who do these things are not allowed in our club.

AY MALI. US-based chess journalist Marlon Bernardino, who regularly follows Chessmoso for several years now, sent me an e-mail that Cebuano Econg Sevillano is not the defending champion of the just-concluded US Championship, as what I wrote last week.

Econg won the 2008 Open tournament and this is entirely different from the US Championship, which has just been won by Hikaru Nakamura over the favorite Gata Kamsky and has a nice purse of $40,000.

The hero of the tournament, though, is GM-elect Robert Hess, only17, who had the most remarkable result tying for second and winning $12,500.

Econg finished tied for 16th to 19th with 24 players after losing his last two games. He earned $2,375. Nice try though, Econg.

ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIP. This has been a touch and go tournament.

After a no-loss performance in the first six rounds, Richard Bitoon (4/6) had a firm shot at finally becoming a GM.

Unfortunately, he was not equal to the task and lost in rounds 7 and 8.

Also, our Boy Wonder Wesley So (5/8) is in danger of not qualifying for the World Cup. He has too many draws against players rated 2400+.

The best Pinoy performer is GM Joey Antonio who is tied for the lead with 6/8. Also with 6/8 is Girl Wonder Hou Yifan, my favorite, who is playing in the men’s division.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pacman, Econg, Asing and Wesley

FORMER Cebu Executives and Professional Chess Association (Cepca) president Nicnic Climaco, who has earned a handful on all of Manny’s fights, has an interesting observation that might be true. During the various television programs promoting the Pacquiao-Hatton mega-fight, Manny was seen playing chess during breaks while training. From what I have gathered thus far, he is quite good at it.

“Pacman is an analytical boxer,” says Nicnic. “That is why he is a great fighter. He analyzes his opponents especially their weaknesses, and trains himself accordingly. That is the mind of a chess player.”

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Do you know that there is a sport known as chessboxing? It is now quite popular in Europe and has a big following. I wrote about this hybrid years ago and several championship fights in different weight classes have been fought.

Enrico “Econg” Sevillano, a protégée of Bombi Aznar and a Cebuano, is now playing in the 2009 US Open in St. Louis from May 8 to 17 where he is the defending champion. He made headlines last year and earned a cover on Chess Life. He is playing below his usual self as his score is three points after six rounds. He still has a chance though to get a GM norm.

It is ironic that a rich country such as the USA can only give so much money to its most prestigious tournament. This year has been an exception, though, as the total prize money is $130,000, primarily due to retired investment fund manager Rex Sinquefield. The winner earns $35,000 plus a bonus of $64,000 if he wins all his games like what Bobby Fischer did in the 1964 US Open.

By the third round, nobody has scored 100 percent so that prize won’t be awarded.

When our club, Cepca, was organized in 1990, one of those who helped us was the late NM Glicerio “Asing” Badilles. Asing devoted practically all his life to chess and the game owes a lot to him. He was an adviser of Cepca until his demise.

The first ever (NM) Glicerio Badilles Memorial Chess Cup 2009 tournament was played last Tuesday and Wednesday at the Moalboal Municipal Hall. The tournament was open only to Barili up to Santander residents.

Asing was born and raised in Moalboal, which is also home to our family’s favorite resort.

Chief arbiter was Odilon Badilles,his son. Prizes were P5,000, P3,000 ,P2,000, P1,000 and P500 up to the 10th place. Those prizes are attractive enough by local standards.

The winner was Merlo Dapar (Barili), Arnel Montayre (Ronda) and Joselito Sacnanas (Moalboal).Other placers were Silo Paquero,Jose Gador, Remy Tejo and Angelito Pableo, all from Moalboal.

The tournament was organized by Councilor Raymond Mendoza of Moalboal with the assistance of former Cepca president Manny Manzanares.

Speaking of Manny, he is active nowadays promoting chess and his project this month is a Summer Chess Clinic open to kiddies 14 years and below.

It will be held from May 18 to 31 at San Roque Barangay Hall and will be conducted by NM Odilon Badilles and Manny himself. Topic will be mostly basic chess principles.

The Asia Continental Chess Championship started last Wednesday at Subic and it is one of the qualification stages for the World Cup scheduled this year in Khanty Mansiysk (Russia), and to the Women’s World Championship next year.

This is now the moment of truth for Wesley So (2641). A top 10 performance here will give him a slot at the 2009 World Cup. He won the first round against Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan of Mongolia last Wednesday.

He is seeded second behind Sasikiran Krishnan (2682) of India and his main competitors will be GM Zhou Jianchao (2635), Kazhgaleyev Murtas (2626), Ganguly Surya Shekhar (2625), Ghaem Maghami Ehsan (2593), Negi Parimarjan (2592) and Hou Yifan (2590).

Most of the local GMs and IMs are also playing including, Eugene Torre.

Chess origin and geography

THE origin of chess is a controversial subject. Some say Persia (Iran), China or India. Chess has been played and enjoyed by people around the world for 1,500 years. If there was an award for “game of the millennium,” it would belong to chess.

It was mentioned by a brave author that the inventor was a Brahman named Sissa in the 4th century in the court of one Rajah Balhait and was called Chaturanga.

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Some chess historians say the Philippines is one of the latest countries in which the game was introduced. They say that chess came to the Philippines in the 20th century just like in Madagascar.

This is obviously erroneous as our national hero, Jose Rizal, was an avid chess player.

My belief is that the Spaniards brought the game here in the 16th century as it was already popular in Spain as early as the 12th or 13th century.

In finding the origin of anything, historians look to literature to determine its existence in the period. According to hall of fame writer Bill Wall, the first written evidence of chess was found in Sanskrit romance “Vasavadatta,” written around 590.

Here is the chronology of the spread of chess before the year 1000.

Please note that the chess referred here is the Modern or European form.

600, first Persian writing of chess (chatrang) in the Persian romance, “Karnamuk.”

620, first introduction of chess into Egypt, by Khusrau II.

720, first 1st literary references of chess in Arabic occur in romantic poems.

735, first living chess played with people, in the Court of Charles Martel.

786, first caliph of Islam, ar-Rashid, to play chess and grant pensions to players.

790, first known chess piece of a carved King with Arabic inscription.

802, first reference of a woman chess player, from an Islamic correspondence.

810, first reference of chess among the Greeks, introduced to Nicephorus.

820, first introduction of chess in Russia.

840, first composed chess problem by the Caliph Billah of Baghdad.

910, first analysis and published works of chess openings by al-Lajlaj.

Here is how chess traveled according to some historians. From India, the game was introduced to China, Korea and Japan where it evolved into other forms in the 6th-11th century.

In the same period, it went to Persia, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine and Armenia. Also in the same period, it was introduced to Russia.

From the 12th-15th century, the game traveled from Iran to Libya, Tunisia and Spain. Also, from Iran, it went to Burma,
Thailand, Borneo and the Malay peninsula.

From Spain, it was introduced to France, Italy and Germany and the whole of Europe. And from Spain, it was introduced to South America in the 15th century.

The game was brought by European immigrants into North America in the 16th or 17th century. The latest is Antartica in the 1950s.

There are other versions that point out that chess spread earlier than the dates mentioned above.

Rose Pharmacy’s annual chess tourney was played last weekend in A! Mall and the winner of the seven-round active format was Merben Roque with 6.5 points.

The runners-up were Joel Pacuribot, Leonardo Alidani and Bonn Tibod, who were all bunched up at six points. Kimkim Yap, Carlos Moreno, Ceferino Vizco and Aller Somosot were also the top finishers.

In the kiddies division, national age group 10 Under champion Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano won over Raymond Abellana in the last round to top with 6.5 points. Runners-up were Abellana, Marq Balbona, Jayson Ortouste and Godfrey Villamor.

Moreover, former Sun.Star Cebu sports editor and Cepca member Jobannie Tabada had a respectable 5/9 final result in the 2009 Dubai Open.

DepEd signs MOA with NCFP

ALL work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Five years ago, I wrote about the benefits of chess as a learning tool for children and I followed it up with a few more articles. That dream will now be realized.

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Last April 30, the memorandum of agreement between the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) was signed and finalized, as well as the launching of the National Chess Academy.

PGMA, DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus and NCFP president Prospero Pichay were present. The venue was at the Bulwagan
ng Karunungan, DepEd Complex in Pasig. I wish I was there as this is a major turning point in the history of education in our country.

Chess will now be integrated in the basic education curriculum of Grades 3 to 6 and all high school levels starting next school year.

Incidentally, Honorary Fide president Florencio Campomanes informed me sometime ago that the person mainly responsible for including chess in the curriculum is Bro. Rolando Dizon, who was formerly the chairman of the Commission on Higher Education and the president of De La Salle University. He was also an officer of NCFP.

He was also, at one time, an adviser to PGMA on charter change, which shows he has the ears and confidence of the president.

Here is what Benjamin Franklin says about chess:

“Chess teaches foresight, by having to plan ahead; vigilance, by having to keep watch over the whole chess board; caution, by having to restrain ourselves from making hasty moves; and finally, we learn from chess the greatest maxim in life—that even when everything seems to be going badly for us we should not lose heart, but always hope for a change for the better, steadfastly continue searching for the solutions to our problems.”

Here is another one by Shelley Smith. “Life is like a game of chess, in which there are an infinite number of complex moves possible. The choice is open, but the move made contains within it all future moves. One is free to choose, but what follows is the result of one’s choice. From the consequences of one’s action there is never any escape.”

Take notice, the annual Rose Pharmacy Open Chess Tournament will be at 9 a.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. This prestigious chess event will have a Kiddies Open Category on the same dates.

Tournament venue is the Activity Center, Main Ground Floor of A! City Mall—ACT Cyber Tower located at corner P. del Rosario and Leon Kilat Streets.

Registration is now going on at Colonade Chess Club. For further information, players may contact Marvin Ruelan (09164232335), Tony Cabibil (09167844724), Roger Abella (09102686890/ 255-5057).

Incidentally, former Sun.Star sports editor Jobannie Tabada is competing in the Dubai Open 2009 together with four other Pinoys who are based there.

After four rounds, he has two wins and two losses, both to GMs. The tournament will conclude on May 5.

GM Wesley So, the defending champion who made history last year by becoming the youngest player ever to win the event, did not participate as he is preparing for the Asian Continental Championship scheduled on May 13 to 24 in Subic in Olongapo.

The fourth Fide Grand Prix Series Tournament was held in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia last April 14 to 29.

Levon Aronian and Peter Leko were tied going to the 13th and last round and fans were expecting a quick draw. However, it was a fierce battle and Aronian prevailed in the end after an exchange sacrifice. Etienne Bacrot, Boris Gelfand and Vladimir Akopian also won. Leko and Akopian finished in joint second place, while Alexander Grischuk and Bacrot were a further half point behind.

The complicated world championship cycle

THE Fide Grand Prix 2008-2009 is a series of six tournaments which forms part of the qualification for the World Chess Championship 2011. A complete explanation is necessary as the world championship cycle is rather complicated and the fourth leg is now underway.

Twenty-one players were nominated to participate in the Grand Prix. Each player must play in at least four out of the six tournaments. Grand Prix points are then allocated according to each player’s standing in the tournament. Players only count their best three tournament results and the player with the most Grand Prix points is the winner.

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As originally envisioned, the winner of the Grand Prix will play a match in 2010 against the Chess World Cup champion of
2009. The winner will then challenge the world chess champion in 2011.

Last month, Fide announced some major changes which caused the withdrawal of Magnus Carlsen and Michael Adams from the original list. Another participant, Levon Aronian, issued an open letter of protest, but did not withdraw. The influential Association of Chess Professionals also objected to the change, saying, “The system of the world championship cannot be changed once the cycle has started.”

The challenger match (between the Grand Prix winner and the World Cup winner) has been replaced with a candidates’ tournament of eight players. The winner will play the world champion (winner of Vishy Anand and Veselin Topalov to be held in April 2010). The eight-player candidates’ tournament will either be a double-round robin or a knockout classical match format with quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

The eight players will be composed of two from the Grand Prix, the winner of World Cup 2009, two from the top rating list, Gata Kamsky, the loser of Anand vs. Topalov, and one nominee by the Fide president.

Three of the six tournaments have been played while the fourth is now on round 7 in Nalchik,Russia. The fifth leg will be played in Yerevan, Armenia on Aug. 1 to 17 late this year.

Here are the results of the first tournament played in Baku, Azerbaijan from April 20 to May 5 last year: 1.) Vugar Gashimov, 2.) Wang Yue, 3.) Carlsen 4.) Mamedyarov Shakriyar, 5.) Alexander Grischuk. 6.) Adams, 7.) Peter Svidler 8.) Teimour Radjabov, 9.) Kamsky, 10.) Sergey Karjakin, 11.) Ivan Cheparinov, 12.) David Navara, 13.) Etienne Bacrot and 14.) Ernesto Inarkiev.

The top three earned 153 points each.

The second Grand Prix was played last year on July 31 to Aug. 14 in Sochi,Russia. The results were 1.) Aronian, 2.) Radjabov, 3.) Wang, 4.) Kamsky, 5.) Svidler, 6.) Dmitry Jakovenko, 7.) Karjakin, 8.) Vassily Ivanchuk, 9.) Gashimov, 10.) Grischuk, 11.) Cheparinov, 12.) Boris Gelfand, 13.) David Navara, 14.) Mohamad Al-Modiakhi.

Aronian earned 180 points and Radjabov 150. Wang and Kamsky had 120 points each.

The third leg was played in Elista, Russia last Dec. 14 to 28,2008 .The final results were: 1.) Radjabov, 2.) Jakovenko,3.) Grischuk, 4.) Gashimov, 5. ) Peter Leko, 6.) Bacrot, 7.) Shakriyar, 8.) Wang, 9.) Rustam Kasimdzhanov, 10.) Ivan
Cheparinov, 11.) Evgeny Alekseev, 12.) Vladimir Akopian, 13.) Ernesto Inarkiev. The top three earned 153 points each.

CONGRATS. Kyle Sevillano (10-Under) and Vic Glysen Derotas (8-Under) emerged champions in their age groups in the National Age-Group Chess Championship in Kalibo,Aklan, which ended yesterday. Jessa Balbona was second in the Girls 18-Under.

The three Cebuanos will be sent to Vietnam for the Asean Championship.

Fun trivia

HOW well-versed are you in chess history and trivia? Here are tidbits of information that guys like Cepca members Jun Olis, Art Ynclino and Edmund Suralta eat for breakfast. The answers are at the end of this article so don’t peep and try to answer as many as you can. If you can answer half of the questions, you are a walking chess encyclopedia.

1. Aside from GM Judit Polgar, What are the names of her two equally famous sisters?

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2. Who is the strongest 14-year-old player in chess history?

3. Name the once controversial chess-playing Filipina- Aussie mestiza who is famous for her beauty and dancing ability?

4. Who was Anatoly Karpov’s opponent in the World Championship in Baguio in 1976?

5. World champion Alexander Alekhine loved cats. He was often seen at tournaments with either a cat, or cat

motifs on his clothes. When he took a cat to a tournament what did it do?
6. Who is known as the magician from Riga?

7. Who did Spassky defeat to become world champion in 1969?

8. What do Bobby Fischer, Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond have in common?

9. Emmanuel Lasker (World Champion 1894-1921) once tried to breed pigeons to compete in poultry shows. Why was he unsuccessful?

10. Garry Kasparov changed his last name. What was it previously?

11. Boris Spassky was born in which Russian City?
12. Fischer’s route to the championship became legendary for the crushing defeats he handed out to three strong Grandmasters. Who were they?

13. What was Fischer’s first publication after the end of the 1972 match with Spassky?

14. In 1997, people in the chess world studied the games of the recent man vs. machine match. Everyone knew that IBM’s Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in that match, but who is the grandmaster who was consulted on the construction of Deep Blue?

15. In 1857, the player known as the “pride and sorrow of chess” won the first American Chess Congress. Who was this brilliant player who would later become (with Fischer) a charter member of the US Chess Hall of Fame?

16. Two men were inducted into the US chess Hall of Fame in 1988. One was Hermann Helms. Name the other inductee, who was known for inventing the ratings system that is used all over the world to keep track of the leaders in chess.

17. In 2004, this wonderful blind musician known for playing the piano and singing countless hits including “Georgia On My Mind” died. He was an avid chess player. Who is he?

18. Chess evolved from a game that began in AD 300-AD 600. What was it called?

19. In 1930, The revolutionary book “My System” was first published. Who was the author?

20. Top Grandmaster Judit Polgar was married in 2001. What was her husband’s profession?

21. Bobby Fischer was born on March 9, 1943 in which US city?

22. What was the outcome of the second Fischer-Spassky game in the game of the century in 1972?

23. Who was the first official world chess champion?

24. Where will the 2010 Chess Olympiad be held?

1.) Sofia and Susan, 2.) Wesley So, 3.) Arianne Caoli, 4.)Victor Korchnoi, 5.) The cat walked over the board, 6.) Mikhael Tal, 7.) Tigran Petrosian, 8.) They all went to the same school—Erasmus High School,Brooklyn, 9.) The pigeons were all male. 10.) Weinstein, 11.)Leningrad, 12.) Mark Taimanov,Bent Larsen and Tigran Petrosian, 13.) A 14-page pamphlet entitled “I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse” after he was mistaken for a bank robber in 1981, 14.) Joel Benjamin 15.) Paul Morphy, 16.) Arpad Elo, 17.) Ray Charles, 18.) Chaturanga, 19.) Aron Nimzovitz, 20.) Veterinarian, 21.)Chicago 22.) Fischer forfeited, 23.) Wilhelm Steinitz, 24.) Khanty-Mansiysk,Russia.