Friday, March 19, 2010

Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

THERE’S a big event tomorrow in Manila, the inauguration of the Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence (Pace) at Mindanao Ave., Quezon City.

“It is envisioned to become the first one-stop, fully-air-conditioned chess destination in the country, comparable to the best chess clubs in America and Europe,” said two-time Olympian GM Jayson Gonzales.

The place will hold regular tournaments and will serve as the venue for teaching young players to improve their skills.

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It will also provide Internet services to members as well as a modern library containing the latest books and software.

“We’re also planning to invite Russian and other foreign chess instructors to conduct classes for our members,” said Gonzales, who co-founded the academy with Eugene Torre.

“Pace will provide everything that the chess player needs, something which, unfortunately, we didn’t enjoy during our formative years in the sport,” said Gonzales. “This is a chess player’s dream come true.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. will be attended by Fide honorary president Florencio Campomanes, National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr., Philippine Sports Commission chairman Harry Angping, former Department of Education secretary Jesli Lapus, NCFP secretary-general Mayor Abraham Tolentino, Aquilino Pimentel III and Ilocos Norte Rep. and senatorial candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Kami diay.Wa bay labot ang Cebu?

EUROPEAN CHESS. The 11th European Individual Men and Women’s Chess Championship just ended in Rijeka, Croatia. The gold was won by 20-year-old Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi and by Swedish GM Pia Cramling.

The statistics of the event are impressive: 566 players from 41 countries, 440 players with titles, 196 of them grandmasters. Of the 3,078 games 2,088 or 68 percent were decisive, only 32 percent drawn.

Twenty-three male chess players qualified for the World Cup and 14 female players for the World Championships.

Boris Kutin, ECU president, said, “No championship has ever received as many compliments as this one in Rijeka. This is surely the best one.”

AMBER. The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament takes place in Nice, France, from March 12-25.

On Round 9, Vassily Ivanchuk drew both his games against Vugar Gashimov. He now leads overall by half a point over Magnus Carlsen. Alexander Grischuk leads the blindfold section and Ivanchuk the rapid games.

Vladimir Kramnik also won in the rapids against Peter Svidler to stay in contention, just half a point behind. He is joined by Alexander Grischuk. There are only two more rounds left.

KUALA LUMPUR. The 3rd KL Open Championship has attracted a record 121 entries from 19 countries. It will start on April 6.

GM Mikhail Mchedlishvili from Georgia, 16-year-old women’s chess champion Hou Yifan from China and German champion Thomas Luther headline a top class field that has 16 GMs, 25 IMs, and 21 Fide Masters.

Among those playing are Cebuanos IM Richard Bitoon, who is seeking his third and final GM norm and IM Kimkim Yap. Yap is seeking his first.

LOCAL EVENTS. There will be a kiddie’s tournament this Sunday at the BJJ Billiards and Recreation Hall, Highway Tunghaan, Minglanilla.

Another one will be on April 6 at Deep Blue Café in SM City.

For details of both tournaments, contact Marvin Ruelan at 0916-4232335.

Former Cepca president Manny Manzanares is organizing a chess clinic for kiddies 14 years and below from April 12 to 15 sponsored by the Talisay Sports Commission.

It is ideal for beginners and those who have zero knowledge of the game. For details, contact Manny at 09297872073.

Incidentally, the much awaited Battle of GMs has been postponed again to a still to be decided date and venue.


Cast of Melody Amber

By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

MELODY Amber is not a movie or a musical event but a major chess tournament. The 19th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament is a yearly invitation-only event for some of the world’s best players. It is sponsored by legendary Dutch billionaire Joop Von Oosteroom in honor of his daughter Melody Amber.

It is ongoing from March 13 to March 25 in Nice, France with a total prize fund of 216,000 Euros excluding appearance fees.

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The event uniquely combines blindfold chess and speed chess and is the only one of its kind in the chess calendar.

Here is a brief background of the players.

Magnus Carlsen (Norway, 20). His performance in 2009 Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament last September to October was described as one of the greatest ever. He is rated 2813, the highest rated player now. This is his fourth appearance in Amber and he once shared second in rapid play in his 2007 debut. He also shared second in 2008 and was tied for first in the blindfold in 2009.

Levon Aronian (Armenia, 28) is currently No.5 in the world with a rating of 2782 as of March 2010. He won the Fide Grand Prix 2008–2009, qualifying him for the candidates’ tournament for the World Chess Championship 2011. He was the overall winner in Amber in 2008 and 2009.

Lenier Dominguez (Cuba, 27) is making his debut in Amber. His best tournament result was Barcelona 2006, when he scored 8/9 and finished first. His March 2010 rating is 2713, good for no. 27 in the world.

Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan, 24) is also playing for the first time. He played for Azerbaijan in the Chess Olympiads in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. He is a solid player and is currently no.12 in the World at 2740.

Boris Gelfand (Israel, 42) was the winner of the 2009 World Cup. He was fifth overall in Amber in 2001 and 2002. He is one of only a few players who became a GM without having ever been an International Master. He is No.9 with a rating of 2750 though his highest was 2761 last January.

Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 27) was overall fourth in 2006 and the champion of Linares 2009. He is World no.7 with a rating of 2756.

Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 41) was overall winner in 1992, second in 1996, 1997, 2000 (shared) and 2002. He has been a leading player in the world since 1988, at times reaching the second spot in the Elo rating list. His current rating is 2748 though his highest was at 2787 in October 2007.

Sergey Karjakin (Russia, 20) was a chess prodigy and holds the record for being the youngest grandmaster in history at the age of 12 years and seven months. This is his third time in Amber, finishing seventh last year. His current rating is 2725, good for 21st place.

Vladimir Kramnik (Russia, 35) won Amber in 1996, 1998 (shared with Shirov), 1999, 2001 (shared with Topalov), 2004 (shared with Morozevich) and 2007—the most wins ever. He seems to be an expert in both rapid and blindfold. He is currently world no.3 with 2790.

Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine, 27) is also making his debut. He is a former Fide champion and rated no.15 at 2737. His highest was 2743 in April 2002.

Jan Smeets (Netherlands, 25) is also playing at Amber for the first time and is currently world no. 87 with a rating of 2651.

The overall standings after round 4: Ivanchuk, Carlsen (6.0), Gelfand, Grischuk (5.0), Ponomariov (4.5), Kramnik (4.0), Svidler, Gashimov, Karjakin, Aronian (3.5), Dominguez (2), Smeets (1.5).

LOCAL EVENT. The Deep Blue Kiddies was played last weekend at SM City with the following results: Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano had a better tiebreak over Felix Shaun Balbona and won the champion’s trophy and a chess book.

Felix Shaun also snared a trophy and a chess set. John Francis Balbona got a trophy for third while Jeff Dorog won P100.

The event, which had 28 participants, used the seven-round Swiss system.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Chess and homosexuality

IN 1779, Thomas Jefferson proposed a law that would mandate castration for gay men and mutilation of nose cartilage for lesbians. But that’s not the scary part. The scary part was that Jefferson was considered a liberal. At the time, the most common penalty was death.

Alfred Kinsey, in his book in 1948 on sexual behavior of the human male shocked the world by announcing that 10 percent of the male population is gay.

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You may consider this high, but a follow-up by Gallup in 2002 estimated that 21 percent of men are gay and 22 percent of women are lesbians.

In the last 10 years, the percentage of people who feel that homosexuality should be considered acceptable has gone up from 38 percent in 1992 to 51 in 2002.

Now, the number is much higher. Same -sex marriage is now legal in some states of the US and in some countries such as Belgium, Canada, Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and, surprisingly, Spain.

Civil unions and registered partnerships are also allowed in 20 countries. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the Philippines due to the strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

A sign of the changing times though is the approval of the gay party-list group Ang Ladlad to participate in the elections this year.

There are an estimated 1,328 grandmasters--men and women--at the latest count. If we follow the general percentage, there should be at least 250 homosexuals. Right? Wrong.

In fact, homosexuality is rare among chess players although a bit rampant among women. There are no known gays among male grandmasters today. There maybe some but they have hidden well.

There had been in the past as I will mention later but they are an exception.

I have been around playing chess in a lot of places and I have only known three who were definitely gays. And I know close to 1,000 chess players. Why is this so?

Chess is a game of imitation war and only real men go to battle.

They kill all the men. Only the women are left. This is the story of the ages. Male homosexuals do not fight to get the female and therefore have very little interest to play chess.

That is the way it is in the animal kingdom. Two males of any kind of animals fight. The winners get all the females. Look at cockfighting and horse fights.

That is why homosexuals are banned from the US military.

Chess Pride was a magazine published around 1998 published for the gay community. It only put out three issues. The first issue was about a known gay chess master, Anthony E. Santasiere.

The second issue treated Paul Murphy, who for some reason had a certain “gayness” about him. The third issue treated another professed gay master, Weaver Adams (1901-63) who won the US Open in 1948.

Santasiere (1904-77) is the author of the book “The Romantic King’s Gambit.” The chess opening Santasiere’s Folly (1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b4) is named for him.

Murphy (1837-84), considered by Fischer to be the greatest player of all time apparently had a fetish for women’s shoes, for he liked to arrange them in a semicircle in his room.

French artist Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) identified with Dadaism and Surrealism is considered by many art professionals to be the greatest artist of this century.

Duchamp was allegedly a closet gay though the secret was very well kept.

Duchamp’s obsession with chess so distressed his first wife that she allegedly glued the chess pieces to the board.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) drew everything from war machines to anatomy sketches. Now it seems he may have also been an early illustrator of the chess puzzle and a chess master. How do we know he was gay? When he was 24 years old, Leonardo was arrested, along with several young companions, on a charge of sodomy.

The charge, though, was dropped as there were no witnesses.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Global warming and che(ss)mistry

Friday, March 5, 2010
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Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IF YOU play chess and you still remember your chemistry, you will notice that in the algebraic notations of the game, you will come across abbreviations of several elements like hydrogen(H), nitrogen (N), oxygen(O), fluorine (F), carbon (C) and boron (B).

Notations in a chess game can result in several compounds like NH3 or ammonia, a very valuable compound which is the source of nitrogen in plants.

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Ammonia is also used in the manufacture of nitric acid, certain alkalies such as soda ash, dyes, pharmaceuticals such as sulfa drugs, vitamins and cosmetics, synthetic textile fibers such as nylon, rayon and acrylics.

Compounds that sometimes result in the notations of chess openings are the so-called ozone-depleting substances (ODS) like pentaflouropropane C3F5H3 (1. c3 f5 2. h3); C4F4H6 fluorobutane (1. c4 h6 2. f4) and C3F3H5 trifluoropropane ( 1.c3 h5 2. f3).

These chemicals, also known as CFCs or chloroflourocarbons, are mainly used as refrigerants, flame retardants and propellants together with bromoflourocarbons or halons. Under provisions of the Montreal Protocol of 1987, the use of CFCs is being phased out to avoid further depletion of stratospheric ozone.

It is suspected that skin cancer, damage to plants, and reduction of plankton populations may result from the increased ultra-violet exposure due to ozone depletion. Ozone is an allotrope of oxygen expressed as O3.

Global warming, or climate change, is a subject that shows no sign of cooling down. Industrialization, deforestation, and pollution have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near the Earth’s surface.

Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades.

As a result, Arctic ice and glaciers are rapidly melting and coral reefs are damaged. Heat waves and strong tropical storms are also attributed in part to climate change.

Sea level could rise between seven and 23 inches by century’s end and affect a hundred million people living in coastal cities.

More than a million species face extinction from disappearing habitat, changing ecosystems, and acidifying oceans. Agriculture yields will be reduced significantly and widespread famine will follow.

I am writing this article because the reduction of these harmful gases concerns everyone. We are responsible for causing global warming.

“No one is spared when nature exacts its revenge on those who have taken its well-being for granted. Even the greatest minds cannot predict when the inevitable will strike or where it will unleash its unrelenting fury.”

DEEP BLUE. The February tournament of the Deep Blue Chess Club was played last weekend at SM city and attracted 28 participants. The format was six rounds Swiss with handicaps depending on the skill of the players.

The champion was Atty. Ben Harayo, who won a colored TV set. Mandy Baria and Jonathan Canque had the same scores but had lower tiebreaks and snared a DVD player and a stand fan, respectively.

Fourth placer Felix Balbona won a rice cooker, while Mark Alasagas went home with an oven toaster.

Other winners were Excel Canque for being the highest scorer in group B and Rey Mendoza in Group C. Both won cash prizes together with Manuel Abucay, who won the raffle.

The event’s sponsors were Mandy Baria and Maggie Dionson, both of Aboitizland.

SO UPDATE. Coming up is the Battle of GMs 2010 which will be held in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte from March 15-22.

Wesley So will be gunning for his third straight title, while WFM Shercila Cua will shoot for her second.