Friday, November 27, 2009

Wesley So surprises Ivanchuck

Thursday, November 26, 2009
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Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE 2009 World Chess Cup, an integral part of the World Championship Cycle 2009-2011, is being held in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia until Dec. 15. The tournament is a knockout event with 128 players.

The format is six rounds of matches comprising two games per round plus tiebreaks, with the winners progressing to the next round. The final seventh round will have four matches, excluding tiebreaks.

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The competition is one of the richest in prize money, totaling $1.6 million broken down as follows: Round 1 losers: $6,000 (64 players); Round 2 losers: $10,000 (32); Round 3: $16,000 (16 players); Round 4 losers: $25,000 (8); Round 5 losers: $35,000 (4); Round 6 losers: $50,000 (2).

The runner-up will get $80,000, while the winner will earn $120,000.

The Philippines has three qualifiers—Wesley So, Darwin Laylo and Rogelio Antonio.

Whoever said that our boys will probably make it to the fourth round was talking thru his nose. This competition is world- class and to even reach the second round is already a tremendous accomplishment. These are the world’s elite players.

Promising youngsters Parimarjan Negi, Ray Robson and girl wonder Hou Yifan are out. Also out is the current women world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk and world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta.

Antonio lost, 0.5-1.5, to 2007 World Cup runner-up Gata Kamsky of the USA despite using his favorite Caro-Kahn, while Laylo (2552) made headlines when he extended super GM David Navara (2707) up to the blitz games but eventually lost.

However, Boy Wonder So (2640) breezed thru the first round against Azerbaijan’s Gadir Guseinov (2625) by sweeping their tiebreak games. They earlier split their two matches.

The big news for all of us was Wesley’s upset win over the mighty Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine 2739) in the first game of the second round! Vassily is easily one of the world’s best chess players and the current No. 12 in Fide’s top 100 list.

Handling the black pieces, So upset the higher-rated Ivanchuk in a French Defense. This could have been a drawn game since Ivanchuk had a perpetual check by move 23, but he pushed for a win, underestimating the strength of the Boy Wonder.

In the second game, it was a shock for the Ukrainians, jubilation for Filipinos and awe for the rest of the world.

Wesley completed his victory with a fighting draw to advance to the third round of this prestigious tournament!

NM Glenn Bordonada says, “This is a historic day for Philippine chess. It recalls to mind Eugene Torre’s win over Mikhail Tal in Leningrad.”

His next opponent will be Gata Kamsky, who has quite a reputation in knockout matches, being a former world championship contender.

Here is Susan Polgar’s advice to Wesley, “Gata is very tough to anyone in match format. He is a grinder, is very patient and will not self destruct. Wesley must be VERY patient and be prepared for long and intense games. It is critical for Wesley not to get into time pressure. Gata is a world-class defender.

He has also played many big matches in his career. The weakest part of Gata’s game is his opening, however his middle game and end-game skills are his strengths. He is also mentally strong.”

It’s a tall order indeed. Go Wesley! Go!

MABOLO. Here are the results of the Mabolo tournament held at Kawayan Grill last weekend. The champion was Steve Pepito and the runners-up were Kyle Sevillano and Carlito Santos. Felix Shaun Balbona and Norvilli Tagnipis placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

I am requesting all Cepca members to visit the place and decide if we could make the place as our clubhouse and venue for tournaments. Food and drinks are reasonable and it is easily accessible thru public transportation. It also has a safe parking.


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