Friday, August 7, 2009

Tita Cory the chess player

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Frank “Boy' Pestaño

IN A previous article, I wrote that the Philippine presidents who played chess were Carlos Garcia, who was considered an expert of the sport, Ferdinand Marcos and Fidel Ramos.

Gloria Arroyo also approved the inclusion of the game as part of the curriculum in elementary and high school starting October this year.

Unknown to many, Corazon Aquino was also a chess player.

With our heads of state leading the way, it’s no wonder why chess is the most popular game in this country.

The biggest and greatest event here was not the Korchnoi vs. Karpov championship match in Bagiuo in 1976 but the 30th Manila Olympiad in 1992.

The key people who made it possible was then Fide president Florencio Campomanes, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Rafael Hechanova, then executive secretary Franklin Drilon, who was the head of the organizing committee and most important, Tita Cory, as she preferred to be called.

The Manila Olympiad was played at the Philippine International Convention Center from June 7 to 25. It was considered by the chess players themselves, journalists both foreign and local, as well as jaded Fide officials as the best Olympiad ever and has never been equaled.

One of the thrills of Tita Cory (and vice versa) was when she met the great Gary Kasparov, who was then at the peak of his popularity, when they both made the ceremonial opening moves.

Incidentally, Chessmoso was honored with a citation by the organizing committee.

Tita Cory was honored in absentia with the “Grand Knight of Fide” award on the 75th anniversary of Fide in Lausanne on July 20, 1999 in recognition for being an outstanding statesman and chess benefactor. The honor was given by the President of Federation Internationale Des Echecs (World Chess Federation), Kirsan N.

Other heads of state who have received this award are President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida of Nigeria, Francis Chiluba of Zambia, the Presidents of Georgia and El Salvador, Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union) and James Callaghan (United Kingdom).

Also nominated was the controversial Ernesto Che Guevarra (post-humous) of Cuba. The Rolls Royce of Fide awards is the “Grand Commander of the Legion of Grandmasters.” This ultra-exclusive club comprises three individuals, all appointed in 1999: Jacques Chirac, president of France, John Paul II, the pope and Fidel Ramos.

I think that Tita Cory majored in math, so I am not surprised at all that she was also a chess player.

Olympiad to return? In an e-mail, columnist and broadcaster Marlon Bernardino informed me that National Chess Federation president Prospero Pichay will bid for the holding of the prestigious World Chess Olympiad and the Asian Zonal Chess Championships.

This was revealed last Monday by GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio who paid a courtesy call on Vice President Noli de Castro last Monday at the Office of the Vice President in PNB Building, Macapagal Ave., Pasay City.

Antonio is one of three Filipinos who qualified to the World Cup 2009 (Fide World Chess Championships) on Nov. 20 to Dec. 15 in Russia.

The other two are Super GM Wesley So and GM Darwin Laylo.

The World Cup has 128 selected and pre-qualified participants and the format is a knockout system.

As I’ve said earlier, the first Olympiad here was held in 1992.

The Asian Zonal Chess Championships, on the other hand, was last held in 2001 at the Grand Boulevard Hotel along Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

The Asian Zonal is the qualification tournament for the individual World Cup, while the World Chess Olympiad is a team competition of all nations throughout the world.,

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