Friday, May 7, 2010

Florencio Campomanes

Thursday, May 6, 2010
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By Frank 'Boy' Pestaño

Very few of the young players today are aware of his contributions to chess but he helped place the Philippines in the world chess map.

Several months ago, Campo (his nickname) visited me at Handuraw.

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He liked the pizza there and said that you could not find that concoction anywhere in the world. That meant a lot as he has probably visited more than 100 countries during his lifetime.

He never gave me any hint that he was suffering from cancer. After a few chess games, we broke up and discussed the possibility of playing poker. We played before and I can say that he was a good poker player and even a finer chess player despite his age.

Once, he joined a Cepca monthly tournament several years ago and was able to hold his ground against the good players of our club. I remember that he was strict in implementing the rules of tournament chess.

One of my prized possessions was a kamagong chess set that I won while I, and several of my officemates, were his guests during his TV show in Manila in the mid-70s.

I met him again in 1988 and 1990 during the World Juniors and Interzonals in Manila, which he both organized, and in 1992 here during the pre-Olympiad Grandmaster tournament organized by the Cebu Chess Federation headed by Boojie Lim,Cepca and CIFYA.

He, and the organizers of the Chess Olympiad, even gave me a citation.

From time to time, he would call me up or visit me to correct some of my articles and even asked copies of all of them as I had no blog then.

He was a character, unique and his love for chess had few equals.

Here is his brief curriculum vitae (from Chessbase and Fide websites):

Born 22 Feb 1927, Manila Philippines

B.A., cum laude, University of the Philippines, 1948

M. A., Brown University, Prov., R.I. 1951

Doctoral Studies, Georgetown University, Wash. B.C. 1949-1952

Fullbright Guarantee, 1948

Lecturer, (Political Science) University of the Philippines, 1954-1956

Chess columnist, Manila Times and Manila Chronicle, 1954-1961

TV Producer and Host, “Chess Today,” PTV 4 Manila, 1973-1982

Permanent Philippine delegate to Fide, 1956-1982

Fide Asian Zone President, 1960-1964

Fide deputy president for Asia , 1974-1982

Fide President, 1982-1995

Fide Chairman, 1995-1996

Honorary President 1996-2010

He also raised $13 million for six men’s world championships in nine years.

Campo could also be resourceful.

Casto Abundo said, “He was studying flight schedules during the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad in Germany and told his teammates that they could tour Paris. They wondered how since they had no money.”

“On their way home, they missed their Paris connection for the once-a-week Air France flight to Manila. Campo argued convincingly to get free hotel accommodation. And they qualified for $200 compensation for one lost luggage.

Campo, Renato Naranja, Meliton Borja, Ruben Reyes, Edgar de Castro and Segundino Avecilla enjoyed Paris for a week, free at the Georges V hotel.”


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 7, 2010.

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