Friday, December 31, 2010

Chess players to face trial

TWO of the six men arrested for playing chess in Inwood Hill Park last October refused a plea deal from a Manhattan Criminal Court and want to take their case to trial.

The chessmen turned down the deal even though they face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000-fine.”They want to go to trial,” said their lawyer, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel. “They feel the charges against them should be dismissed outright.”

Yacahudah Y.A. Harrison and Chris Peralta were part of the group ticketed on Oct. 20 for playing chess at tables inside Emerson Playground, a children’s play area off limits to adults unaccompanied by minors.

The other three of the six men were given adjournments in contemplation of dismissals yesterday morning—meaning if they stay out of trouble from the law for six months, the matter will be dropped. The sixth was a no-show.

News of the arrests created a worldwide uproar with residents expressing outrage.

They were arrested by bulletproof vest -clad cops, causing an observer to comment that the cops were afraid that the chess players will throw “poison pawns” at them.

The group—two of whom had been playing there for years—was ticketed for “failure to comply with signs.” There was a posted notice beside them that read, “Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12.”

Most of the men said they had not noticed the signs. Harrison, 49, told The Post he had seen the sign but had permission from a park ranger to play there.

“The ranger said, ‘Oh no, that’s fine. That’s only written for pedophiles,’” Harrison said.

ROSE CHESS. Keith Claire Carlisle Morala, a 13-year-old aspiring sports journalist and chess player, sent me this report about the ladies and kiddies tournament held last Monday at SM Deep Blue.

“On top of the list and taking away the grand trophy was Jessa Balbona, who scored five points in the five-round event. Finishing behind her were Maria Cecile Lumapac and Sharon Princess Lee Pacres with four points apiece.

Balbona found her game with Airene Robillos to be the toughest one to win. It was a Sicilian Dragon Variation, with Robillos using white. The latter was supposed to have an advantage in the position, but because of time pressure, she lost hold of the
advantage and black won the game.

The tournament was attended by female players from the different parts of Cebu.

Unmindful of the frostiness of the SM atmosphere, the players took each match as seriously as they could.

Kyle Sevillano also emerged champion with seven points in seven rounds, winning P1,000 and a trophy. Ten-year-old James Andrew Balbona, with 6 points, took second place and P500, while Diego Abraham Claro and Felix Shaun Balbona got third with 5.5 points each.

The mall was freezing cold yet the intense heat among the players soared as the tournament went underway.

The youngest sibling of the well-known Balbona family, James Andrew, achieved an astounding feat after he vanquished 2011 Palarong Pambansa-bound Alan Pason in the sixth round. The game was headed for a draw, but Pason lost on time forfeit.

Diego Claro, another Palarong Pambansa competitor, also had a good showing after drawing with Felix Shaun Balbona and beating Marq Gabrielle Balbona.

Gayl Bontes of UC assisted Keith Claire by taking notes.

The tournament was sponsored by Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy.”

Friday, December 17, 2010

Women world championship

SIXTY-FOUR have qualified to the Women’s World Chess Championship being held at Hatay, Turkey, from De. 2 to 25. It is knockout tournament featuring two-game mini-matches per round, until the final and 6th round, which is a four-game match to determine the champion.

In the event of a draw after two games, there will be a rapid game tie-breaker, followed by a possible blitz playoff, and finally an Armageddon blitz game. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, and a 30-second increment per move.

The semifinals are now being played. The remaining players are Koneru Humpy of India, and China’s Hou Yifan, Zhao Xue and Ruan Lufei.

Out is defending Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk who lost to Ruan Lufei, Kateryna Lahno who lost to Hou Yifan, the Muzychuk sisters, Anna and Mariya, Almira Skripchenko and US champion Anna Zatonskih.

The performance of the Chinese players is astonishing. Also extraordinary is the absence of European and American players in the semifinals.

For a long time, women chess has been dominated by Eastern Europeans, especially Georgia. Russia won the women‘s team in the last Olympiad and Georgia was third.

Koneru will play against Hou in the semifinal. That will be a repeat of their 2008 semifinal match, which Hou won. It is an unfortunate pairing as Koneru is the highest-ranked player in the field and Hou is the second highest. They should have met in the finals.

London Chess Classic 2009 was a huge success that the organizers decided to do a repeat this year. It has joined the ranks of super Major tournaments like Linares, Wijkaan Zee, Nanjing, Bilbao and Amber.

Boy wonder Magnus Carlsen won after an incredible comeback winning in the last three games.

Final scores (Elo, age, score): 1)Carlsen (2802,20,13); 2) Viswanathan Anand (2804,41,11); 3) Luke Mcshane (2645,26,11); 4) Hikaru Nakamura (2772, 23,10); 5) Vladimir Kramnik (2765,35,10); 6) Michael Adams (2725,39,8); 7) David Howell (2611,20,4); 8) Nigel Short (2680,46,2).

The tournament was an eight-player, round-robin format. Time control is 40 moves for two hours, one hour for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes with 30-second increment for the rest of the game.

Sofia Rules were in effect, which means no draws were allowed unless approved by the arbiter. Also Scoring is Bilbao with three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss.

Prizes: 1st, 50,000 Euros; 2nd, 25,000 Euros; 3rd, 15,000 Euros; 4th, 10,000 Euros; 5th, 10,000 Euros; 6th, 8,000 Euros, plus seven daily Best Game prizes of 1,000 Euros voted on by the public.

NATIONAL. Three members of the Philippine team that won the silver medal in the recent Asian Games will play in the National Inter-Cities and Municipalities chess team championship tomorrow Dec. 18-19 at the People’s Astrodome in Dagupan City.

Wesley So will play for Makati, while John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo will play for Quezon City and Mandaluyong, respectively.

Aside from the three teams, 30 other cities and municipalities have already confirmed their participation in the contest, which offers a guaranteed cash prize of P70,000 to the champion.

“The entry of the three national players, who made the country proud in the recent Asian Games, will add luster to the season-ending tournament,” said NCFP president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

CEPCA. After our Christmas party and the induction of the 2011-12 officers and members of the board of trustees, we had a mini-tournament last week in my residence in Mabolo.

The winner was Harrison Chua, followed by the Kiddies Kyle Sevillano, Alan Pason, and Felix Shaun Balbona. Fifth place was bagged by Junard Labadan.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2010.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chess and preventing Alzheimer

ALZHEIMER'S Disease (AD), also known as “the long goodbye,” is a progressive, degenerative disease that alters the brain, causing impaired memory, thinking and behavior and finally complete helplessness.

It is characterized by a progressive decline in comprehension, calculation, language, learning capacity and judgment sufficient to impair personal activities of daily living.

It is caused by the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain.

Most often, it is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur in the 40s and 50s.

It is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German neurologist who described it in 1907.

In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050.

How to prevent AD? Play chess!

AD develops for an indeterminate period of time before becoming fully apparent, and it can progress undiagnosed for years. The mean life expectancy following diagnosis is approximately seven years. And fewer than three percent of individuals live more than 14 years after diagnosis.

Because AD cannot be cured and is degenerative, management of patients is essential
and is known for placing a great burden on caregivers.

Famous people who got affected with AD are Ronald Reagan, Charles Bronson, Charlton Heston, Sugar Ray Robinson, Perry Como, Rita Hayworth, Barry Goldwater, Harold Wilson etc.

Arnold Denker, an octogenarian and a late US chess champion, wrote a letter to Chess Life asserting that he had never known a grandmaster who had developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Dan Mayers, another active tournament chess player in his 80s, declared that Denker was correct although scientific experiments were necessary to prove it.

The New England Journal of Medicine has published an article that, in effect, says Denker and Mayer could be right. Beginning in 1980, they followed 469 people over age 75, largely screening out anyone who had signs of dementia.

Those who played games, particularly chess and bridge showed a 75 percent lower risk of getting AD or dementia. Those who played a musical instrument showed had a 64 percent lower risk.

The study, of course, could be flawed, but the unusually positive result for bridge and chess players is certainly significant and startling.

Research shows that the brain is much like the body--it needs continuous activity to remain strong and supple and fight off the predations of old age.

And researchers have determined that chess is uniquely well-suited to “exercising” the brain. It is simple to play, but offers nearly limitless variation.

It requires memory, problem-solving skills, abstract thought, and creativity.

People who play it regularly in their older years are less likely to develop AD.

Studies have shown that old people are less likely to suffer from a swift
deterioration of AD if they are mentally very active. This activity can take the form of many things but it is believed that chess is one of the best ways to keep the mind active.

For Alzheimer’s patients, this mental activity is even more important as this disease swiftly takes the patient’s memory from him. By actively playing a game of chess, the patient is forced not only to remember how each piece moves but also what openings, middle games and end games to play in a certain situation.

CEPCA MEMBERS. Please take note that the induction of the new set of officers members of the Board of Trustees and Christmas party is today in my residence in Mabolo starting at 6 p.m. For more information, get in touch with Manny Manzanares at 09058386310 or call me at 2317656.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 10, 2010.

Arrested for teaching chess

ALTHOUGH we lost to powerhouse China in the battle for gold, our chess players surprised the experts, including Chessmoso, by snaring the silver in the men’s team competition in the Asian Games in China.

The Chinese placed fifth in the 2010 Chess Olympiad held in Russia and were the overwhelming favorites.

China won, 3.5-0.5, as Wesley So drew with Wang Yue in the top board, while John Paul Gomez bowed to Wang Hao. Darwin Laylo and Eugene Torre lost to Zhou Jianchao and Ni Hua, respectively.

The format was seven rounds Swiss with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals--China, Philippines, India and Iran.

Torre and Rogelio Antonio Jr. relied on their vast experience as the Philippines prevailed over defending champion India, 2.5-1.5, in the semi-finals .

Gomez sealed the Filipinos’ triumph when he drew with Surya Shekhar Ganguly in Board 3, negating the loss of Wesley So to Pentala Harikrishna in Board 1.

The 48-year-old Antonio trounced fellow Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran in Board 2, while Asia’s first GM Torre, still sharp at 59, bested GM GN Gopal in Board 4.

The Filipinos, with So and Torre hurdling their rivals, also downed the Indians, 2.5-1.5, in the fifth round. Antonio drew his match while Gomez bowed to his rival that time.

We had a long losing streak against India, dating back to the 1988 Olympiad.

We were not expected to advance to the semifinal round as Vietnam, and most of the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union were rated higher than us.
Congratulations guys!

ARRESTED FOR PLAYING CHESS. Everyone has the right to use a public park, and that right must be defended.

In northern Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park, police ticketed seven chess for playing chess in a children’s play area.

The Inwood neighborhood is home to a multinational working-class community and wealthier residents along with the police are aiming to push poor people out of parks and other public areas

Forty-nine-year -old Y. A. Harrison, one of those who received a summons, said he and the other players regularly showed kids how to play the game on Saturdays when “the police rolled up on us like we were drug dealers.”

“If we were teaching them to pitch pennies and gamble, that’s one thing,” Harrison said. “But this is chess. We weren’t trying to add to the problem.”

A police spokesperson claimed that officers were following New York City Parks Department rules, which bar adults from the playground if they are not accompanying minors.

They must appear in a Manhattan Criminal Court on Dec. 28.

News of the tickets and upcoming court date were met by outrage at police actions by many community members who sympathized with the chess players.

In the wake of the uproar, the parks department installed new chess tables outside the restricted park area for the players Zaida Grunes, a mother of twins said, “When my toddler twins are old enough, I will be sending them to Inwood Hill Park, alone, and hope that there is a caring, attentive individual sitting at a chess table, willing to give my kids their time and patience to teach them not only a game, but a skill.”

Inwood parent Jackie Rodriguez-Jones said she was incensed over the situation and planned to do what she could to support the players. “This is about people. People who did nothing wrong.’’

CEPCA. Members please note that the induction of the newly elected officers and trustees and our Christmas party will be at our residence in Mabolo on Dec. 9.

For details, get in touch with the newly elected president Manny Manzanares at 09058386310.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 03, 2010.

Manzanares elected Cepca president

MANUEL “Manny” Manzanares was again elected president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) last weekend at the Kawayan Grill in Mabolo.

Others elected were Dante Arguelles (internal vice president), Fabio Abucejo (external vice president), Jojo Muralla (treasurer), Nicnic Climaco (secretary), Danilo Madeja (auditor) and Jun Olis (PRO).

Elected to the board of trustees were Mandy Baria,Renato Casia, Felix Balbona and Ogie Reyes.

The past presidents of Cepca are charter president Chessmoso (two terms), Alex Tolentino, Gerry Tomakin, Benjamin Dimaano, Ogie Reyes, Danny Pestano (two terms), Nicnic Climaco, Bobot Villaluna (two terms), Norway Lara, Mat Matuco, Mandy Baria, Renato Casia (two terms) and Jun Olis.

Honorary members are chess patron Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy, Cifya’s Kelly Uy, US-based Dr. Darcy Tabotabo, former Mayor Alvin Garcia and Mayor Michael Rama.

Those who have passed away honorary member Bombi Aznar, Cepca co-founders Gerry Tomakin and Sonny Sollano, past president Bobot Villaluna and radioman Migs Enriquez.

They are now playing with the likes of Bobby Fischer, Emmanuel Lasker and Paul Morphy.
Manny’s immediate plan is to popularize chess in Cebu using the club as an instrument for training kids and recruitment of new members.

His long-term goal is to build a clubhouse, where all chess activities in Cebu will emanate.

Manny also plans to introduce the C-Cat program which he started in Talisay. C-Cat means chess clinic and tournament and is a program for kids 14 years old and below to teach them the basics of chess.

It will involve the barangays (to fund the program), the schools (to provide the kids) and Cepca (to organize and coordinate the activities).

Speaking of kids, whatever happened to the “Chess in Schools” Program which was
launched with a lot of publicity during the term of President Arroyo?

I recall that it was already approved in principle by PGMA, the Department of Education and the National Chess Federation of the Philippines to be partly implemented this school year.

I hope key officials of P-Noy realize the benefits of chess to the child.

Here are some of them as enumerated by President Zuma of South Africa, one of many countries now with “Chess in Schools” firmly established.

“Chess is one of the most powerful educational tool available to strengthen and enhance a child’s mind. It is an important game in many respects, the main benefit being that it contributes to the development of strategic thinking as well as concentration, analytical skills and problem solving. These are traits that are
important for school going children.”

“No amount of video games can teach a child the same level of patience, strategic thinking, concentration, analytical skills and the attention to detail that they would gain from this timeless intellectual game.”

ASIAN GAMES. The Philippines qualified to the semifinals by beating Uzbekistan, 3.5 to 0.5, to improve to 10 points with a a round to spare.

The most critical round was in the fifth when Wesley So and Eugene Torre won, leading the Philippines to a shock 2.5-1.5 victory over defending champion India.

REUNION. I would like to call the attention of my classmates in USC Boys High School seminary in 1956 to 57, Joe Villagonzalo and Walter Lawas, that we are planning a reunion on Nov. 30 together with Sun.Star Publishing Inc. chairman Jesus B. Garcia Jr. and Samuel Yap. Please get in touch with me.

Also joining us is Fr. Florencio Lagura, who writes the Sun.Star “In the Service of the Lord,” and the rest of our classmates in the classical section.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 26, 2010.

Cepca elections today

THE Cebu executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) will elect today its officers and board of trustees for 2011-12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Kawayan Grill in Mabolo in front of Persimmon. Attendance is compulsory for all members.

Cepca,one of the oldest clubs in the country, was founded in 1990 by Chessmoso, together with Art Ynclino, Loy Miñoza, Alex Tolentino, Danny Pestaño, Nicnic Climaco and the late Sonny Sollano and Gerry Tomakin.

We will have a handicapping tournament after the elections. Format is five rounds Swiss and members will be divided into the A , B and C categories. Each group will have different time controls.

POKER. The PokerStars Asia Pacific Poker Tour Cebu champion is Young-shin Im from Korea. Young-shin, who won P5,810,000, is the first female APPT winner.

Michael Fabiano from Australia took second place and P3,660,000 and Kim Gap Young from Korea took third place and P2,045,000.

A total of 236 players from 38 countries participated, including players from Mongolia, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden and Pakistan who invested P100,000 each for a shot at poker fame.

In total, 79 PokerStars Online Qualifiers and 18 PokerStars Cebu Satellite Winners played.

The event was held at Shangrila Mactan from Nov. 12 to 16.

CHESS. Forty-seven kids and 30 Lapu-Lapu City residents played in the Lapu-Lapu Fiesta tournament last weekend.

The winner in the Kiddies section was Allan Pason, who defeated Felix Shaun Babona in the last round in 39 moves of a Trompovsky opening to snare P2,000 plus trophy.

Second place went to Kyle Sevillano, who got P800 and trophy and the third placer was Diego Claro, who earned P600 and trophy.

In the open section, Michael Infante beat Ramil Resuera in 31 moves of a Sicilian to garner the champion’s prize of P3,000 plus trophy. Second placer was Peterson Sia, who had a better tiebreak over Amado Olea.

The tournament was sponsored by the Lapu-Lapu City Government headed by Mayor Paz Radaza. Tournament director was Jun Olis and arbiter was Tony Cabibil.

The Rose Pharmacy Chess King challenge will be held next month from Dec. 18 to 22 and will have two main categories: Open and Kiddies

There will be two sections in the Kiddies Categories: 12- and 15-Under.

Since the kiddies categories will be played in the last two days of the tournament, they may join the open Category eliminations. Tentative venue is the Mango Square Mall and the finals will be held at Deep Blue in SM.

The Open elimination stage will be a seven-round rapid Swiss to determine the top 16 players who will play a two-game knockout round.

The champion will pocket P20,000 and the runner-up P10,000. Losing semi-finalists and quarter finalists will get P4,000 each and the rest P500.

For further inquiries, contact Marvin Ruelan (09267352951) or Roger Abella (09102686890).

WESLEY SO. I am a little bit disappointed by the performance of our Boy Wonder in his last tournaments namely, Biel, Spice Cup and the Asian Games Rapid competition in Guangzhou,China.

He placed fifth in Biel and tied for third in the Spice Cup 2010. Most foreign observers were expecting him to do better.

Wesley is not playing as well as he should, considering that he is the strongest player in history at 14 years old.

When Magnus Carlsen, the world no.1 now, and Sergey Karjakin were at his age (Wesley just turned 17 last month), they were improving by leaps and bounds.

I believe that the National Chess Federation should hire a trainer not only for Wesley but also for the rest of our up and coming players.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 19, 2010.

Chess and poker

COMPARING chess to poker is like comparing oranges and apples. The relationship is strong, but the difference is obvious. While chess demands a lot of brains, poker requires a lot of guts.

They say that watching a chess game is like waiting for paint to dry and so is poker, that is until the pocket camera came along.

Once we see the actual cards dealt to the players on TV we have big time drama knowing the money at stake.

Watching a poker expert on TV fold or raise can be easily understood by the average viewer but most have no idea behind a chess grandmaster moves.

This fools people into thinking they could be a poker champion, which is why so many people play poker now.

There is a poker revolution all over the world, with millions of dollars at stake every day.

Cebu has also caught up with the fever.

Cebu City now hosts top of the line clubs—All-in, Diamond and Metro Card and Tulip in Mactan.

My favorite is Diamond Club along Archbishop Reyes Avenue primarily because of its accessibility and affordability.

A lot of beautiful lady players also congregate there to name a few--Cindy Yap, Jacqueline Flores, Noriza Ken Son and Myshel Paredes.

The dealers are also top of the line—Danica, Ayen, Joy ,Daisy, Katrina and Precy.

The club manager is Edward Uy and is assisted by Poppy and Joanna.

Buy-in is P100 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and P500 every Tuesday and Thursday. On Saturdays the buy-in is P1,000.

PokerStars is the sponsor of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) Cebu 2010. The series will take place at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort from Nov. 12 to 16 with a string of side events.

Pokerstars is the world’s largest online poker room.

APPT Cebu started last Wednesday and yesterday, with a P5,000 No Limit Hold’em event (P1,000,000 guaranteed).

Here’s the full 2010 PokerStars APPT Cebu Schedule (buy-ins in pesos):

Nov. 12: P100,000 APPT Main Event Day 1A

P20,000 No Limit Hold’em

Nov. 13: P100,000 APPT Main Event Day 1B.

P20,000 No Limit Hold’em KO Bounty

P5,000 Ladies No Limit Hold’em

Nov. 14: P10,000 No Limit Hold’em Six-Handed.

P30,000 Pot Limit Omaha

Nov. 15: P40,000 No Limit Hold’em Six-Handed

P200,000 High Roller Event (Two-Day)

Nov. 16: P20,000 No Limit Hold’em

“We’re delighted to be taking the APPT back to the Philippines, and Cebu in particular,” said Jeffrey Haas, President of the APPT. “Last year’s event in Cebu was a definite highlight and offered further evidence of the continued passion for poker in the Asia Pacific region.”

The tournament director is Danny McDonagh, while the founder and executive producer of the local tournament is Alan Escano.

BACK TO CHESS. The Lapu-Lapu tournament will take place on Nov. 13 at the Lapu-lapu Basketball Court starting at 8:30 a.m.

The categories are Kiddies (14 years and under) and Juniors/Seniors (Lapu-Lapu residents only).

Format for Kiddies is 6 rounds Swiss with 30 minutes time control, while the format for the juniors/seniors section is 7 rounds Swiss with 30 minutes time control.

For details, contact Jun Olis at 09103476907.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 12, 2010.

Getting killed over a chess game

CHESS is inherently a harmless and safe pastime. However, it has its dark side and it’s not about it being very addictive.

Since a lot of egos are involved, a whole symphony of feelings comes into play.

A few days ago, I was playing at a chess club and met an old acquaintance whom I have not seen since my Luneta weekends in the 70s and 80s.

I still remember him vividly as he was involved in a fistfight in Luneta over a chess game. That memory prodded this topic.

Although most people will disagree, there is some truth to the statement by Henry Blackburne that “chess is a kind of mental alcohol. Unless a man has supreme self-control, it is better that he should not learn to play chess. I have never allowed my children to learn it, for I have seen too much of its evil results.”

Blackburne, nicknamed “The Black Death,” is notorious for his fistfights with his opponents.

I did a search on the Internet about chess fights and violence and came across an article by world famous and hall of fame writer Bill Wall. He is, without doubt, the most productive writer about chess trivia.

Please note that these are isolated incidents and are exceptions.

Martin Wirth shot to death Vernie Cox after the two argued over a chess game in 1994.

Cox died of two gunshot wounds to the chest. Witnesses said Wirth had lost a chess game with Cox and knocked over the chess board. He went home and returned with a gun and shot Cox to death.

Robert Bryan of England shot Matthew Hay with a shotgun over a chess game in 1992 and was jailed for 10 years .

The Soviet Union banned cosmonauts from playing chess in space with each other although they can play with ground control after a fist fight once broke out between cosmonauts over a chess game in 1980.

In 1981, GM John Fedorowicz and GM András Adorján got into a fistfight at the Edward Lasker Memorial on New York. Fedorowicz was upset that Adorján beat him when Adorján was drawing all his earlier games.

Patrick McKenna, a prisoner in Nevada, strangled his Las Vegas cellmate, Jack J. Robles, after an argument over a chess game in 1979.

In 1971, when Tigran Petrosian lost his match with Bobby Fischer, Petrosian’s wife, Rona, put the blame on his trainer, Alexey Suetin, and slapped him.

Walter Bjornson of Vancouver was cut with a knife by his opponent in 1950 during a chess game, leaving a four-inch gash in his forearm.

The Argentine Chess Federation called off the national chess tournament in 1954 after a player punched the arbiter.

A Russian scientist killed another colleague with an axe after losing a chess game at the Vostok Research Station in the Antarctic in 1989.

International Master Bernard Zuckerman was once playing a chess tournament in 1979 .

A loud spectator was nearby and Zuckerman told him to keep quiet. When the spectator refused, Zuckerman hurled a captured bishop at him.

During the Candidates Tournament in Curacao in 1962, Bobby Fischer and Pal Benko got into a fight. Fischer asked Bisguier to assist him during an adjournment, but Benko also wanted Bisguier to help with his own adjournment.

Fischer insulted Benko and made fun of his accent and Benko responded by hitting Fischer A U.S. sailor got into a fight with a spectator in a Greenwich Village bar in 1960 while playing chess. He struck the spectator with a broken bottle and hit him on his jugular vein. The sailor was eventually acquitted of murder and was charged with accidental death instead Laurence Douglas of Puoghkeepsie, New York, stabbed Craig Williams to death over a chess game in 2000.Douglas, who lost $5, pulled out a knife and stabbed Williams 16 times.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 05, 2010.

Fide president: Aliens taught humans chess

ABOUT a decade ago, when a survey was made among leading scientists and historians on what was or would be the most significant event in history, the answer was unanimous.

The greatest event would be the confirmation by Seti (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and NASA of intelligent life on other planets.

Chess was originally thought to have been invented in India or China 1,500 years ago.

Now, we have an amazing new hypothesis.

Chess came from outer space! Aliens came here and introduced the game to us back then.
The source, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has personal information of this claim.

He is a multi-millionaire businessman and has been the president of the World Chess Federation, Fide, since 1995.

He was reelected last month for another four-year term, which means a lot of followers believe in his sanity, including Chessmoso.

He claimed that in 1997 he was taken by aliens to a spaceship and much later brought back to Earth.

“I’m not ill. I’m psychologically normal,” he says. “I didn’t hide it even though I knew that people would laugh at me and say I was crazy. Maybe it was a form of self-sacrifice.”

He said he saw a “semi-transparent half tube” spaceship on his balcony.

He then entered it and met “human-like creatures in yellow spacesuits”.

He also told The Guardian the aliens took him to some kind of star. “They told me many things and showed me around.”

I have always been fascinated with astronomy. During the 70s I was a member of the Philippine Astronomical Society.

I still remember the Luneta Planetarium, Hans Arber and Fr. Victor Badillo of the Ateneo Observatory, who has claim to eternal fame by having an asteroid named after him.

Aliens are apparently regular visitors as more than 1,700 encounters have been reported.

The most notable, aside from Kirsan, are Elizabeth Klarer (South Africa,1956), Antonio Villas Boas (Brazil,1957), Betty and Barney Hill(1961,USA), Herbert Schirmer (USA,1967), Pascagoula Abduction (USA,1973), Allagash Abductions (USA,1976) and Whitley Strieber (USA,1980).

The most amazing though is the claim by jazz singer Pamela Stonebrooke of having an “out of this world” sex with a 6’ alien reptilian in 1998 who could change into human-like form while making love.

An indirect argument for the existence of extraterrestrial life relies on the vast size of the observable universe. The argument, endorsed by Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, says it would be improbable for life not to exist somewhere other than Earth.

Possible forms of extraterrestrial life range from simple bacteria-like organisms to sapient beings far more advanced than us.

Based on observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, there are at least 125 billion galaxies in the Universe. It is estimated that at least 10 percent of all sun-like stars have a system of planets. Even if we assume that only one out of a billion of these stars have planets supporting life, there would be some 6.25×109 (billion) life-supporting planetary systems in the Universe. Wow!

An official announcement has been made that the exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope has discovered about 140 candidate worlds that are “like Earth.”

They could support liquid water and harbor intelligent life and who knows, play chess!
If a chess-playing alien is reading this article, you are welcome to join me, Jun Olis, Ely Berciles, Dante Arguelles and Tata Morelos for a game in Handuraw.

Beer below zero is on us plus their pizza is out of this world, just like you!

Incidentally, Handuraw Mactan is now open and is located at the ground floor of IMEZ building in front of Mepz 2.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 29, 2010.

Women’s team loses Asian Games spot

THE surprise of the week was the withdrawal of the women’s chess team from the Asian
Games in Guangzhou, China which is scheduled on Nov. 12 to 27.

I immediately contacted NM Cesar Caturla, the captain of the women’s team in the last Olympiad, who referred me to National Chess Federation President Prospero Pichay.

Pichay said he withdrew the team, made up of women’s Fide Masters Cheradee Camacho, Sherily Cua and Catherine Perena, national champion Rulp Ylem Jose and alternate Jedara Docena, due to lack of competitiveness against the powerhouse teams from China, India, Vietnam and the Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union.

The lady chessers placed 44th overall in the recent Chess Olympiad in Russia.

Apparently, Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richie Garcia and the various sports federations have an agreement to send only competitive players to the 45-nations Asian Games.

Meanwhile, Rogelio “Joey” Antonio will join the Philippine chess team to the Guangzhou Asian Games after being reinstated by Pichay.

Antonio was suspended by the NCFP after failing to return from the US to compete in two tournaments here, the Pichay Cup and the Campomanes Memorial.

Antonio will rejoin fellow GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Eugene Torre in the team, replacing Cebuano IM Richard Bitoon.

“Admittedly, Joey is one of our strongest players next to Wesley. But then again, we had to hand out disciplinary action for his failure to comply with the NCFP’s orders, that’s why he got delisted,” NCFP executive director Willie Abalos said.
We had our worst finish at 50th place in the Olympiad without Antonio, although I doubt if we could have done better.

Antonio recently won the Tuguegarao tournament, which included the country’s top players. He finished in a tie with Wesley but had a better tiebreak.

“Joey has proven that he still is one of our best players and he also apologized to our president and promised that he will follow all the rules and regulations set by the NCFP,” said Abalos.

Antonio will retain his Board 2 status. So will be the team’s Board 1 player, John Paul Gomez will play in Board 3 and Darwin Laylo will be in Board 4. Torre will now be an alternate and the team captain.

So has a good chance of winning an individual medal, while Antonio has a chance in the rapid competition.

China, India ,Azerbaijan and Vietnam are solid favorites in the team competition and it will be a tremendous achievement if we snare even a bronze medal.

SPICEY. The Spice Cup 2010 will take place on Oct. 28 to Nov. 7 at the Texas Tech University. This prestigious event is growing bigger every year since it started in 2007.

To make the tournament more exciting, the Spice Cup committee has unanimously voted to adapt the modified Sofia and Bilbao Rules.

This means no draws are allowed prior to move 30 and a win is worth 3 points, a draw 1 point and a loss, zero.

The formats are designed for players to always go for a win.

The contest will be a six-player double round robin event. The average Fide rating of the participants is 2631—a category 16—which is the highest-rated international invitational tournament this year in the USA.

The players are (all GMs): Zoltan Almasi (Hungary, 2707), Alexander Onischuk (US, 2688), Wesley So (Philippines, 2668 ),Georg Meier (Germany, 2659 ) ,Ray Robson (US, 2539), and Eugene Perelshteyn (US, 2528).

Spice is short for Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence. Apparently she is a great fan of Wesley, who was also invited last year.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2010.

Strongest event and 2 new Pinoy GMs

THERE has never been a category 22 tournament before, that is, until this week. The second part of the 2010 Grand Slam Masters Final is set to end today. It started on Oct. 9 in Bilbao, Spain.

This year, the participants are Viswanathan Anand (2800), the current world champion and world No. 2, Magnus Carlsen (2826), winner of the Wijk aan Zee, Nanjing and Bazna tournaments and current world No. 1, Alexei Shirov (2749) world No. 12, and former world champion Vladimir Kramnik (2780), the world no. 5.

Shirov and Kramnik qualified after placing first and second, respectively, in the first phase in Shanghai from Sept. 3 to 8.

It is a six-round double round-robin event and is the highest-rated event in history.

Veselin Topalov, winner of Linares and former world no. 2, missed the final due to personal reasons.

A category 22 means the average rating of the participating players must be at least 2776. The greatest player of all time, Bobby Fischer had a peak rating of 2780 in the 70s.

Time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 60 minutes with a 10-second increment per move as of move 41.Sofia rules are used, meaning no draws are allowed unless approved by the arbiter.

The scoring system is the Bilbao, which scores three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero for a loss to encourage fighting chess .

In the event of a tie, the tiebreak used will be two blitz games played at four minutes each with a three-second increment per move. And if the match is still drawn, a final Armageddon game.

The Bilbao Masters are off to a big surprise, with some unforeseen results, to say the least. Carlsen, after losing three games in the Olympiad, continued his free fall and lost to Kramnik and Anand for an 0-2 start.

Kramnik, on the other hand, is red hot, as he had wins over Carlsen and Shirov. Using the tournament’s 3-1-0 scoring systems, that leaves the standings as follows after 4 rounds:

Kramnik (8 points), Anand (6), Shirov (3), Carlsen (2).

NEW GMS. It’s now official. Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla (2518) and Roland “Kulot”Salvador (2511) were officially conferred the Grandmaster title by the World Chess Federation during the Fide Congress coinciding with the 39th Olympiad in Khanty Mansiyk, Russia .

Barcenilla, whose roots are in Carcar,Cebu and is now based in Arizona, USA, was conferred the title after getting his final GM norm in the 2009 Copper State International Chess Championship held in Mesa, Arizona.

He is the second Cebuano after Joseph Sanchez to achieve the title.

Also a blackbelter in taekwando, he would like to thank the late Art Borjal, Casto Abundo and most of all Prospero Pichay. He also credits his uncle, the late Bombi Barcenilla Aznar, Boogie Lim of Rose Pharmacy, his wife Lilibeth Lee, his parents Rogelio Barcenilla Sr. and Wilhelmina Padla, his uncle George Barcenilla, his in-laws Antonio Lee and Hedelisa Lee for being very supportive throughout his career in chess.

Salvador, who hails from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan earned his third and final GM title during the 11th edition of the International Chess Tournament Fermo-Porto San Giorgio held from Aug. 21 to 29 at the Astoria Hotel in Fermo ,Italy.

Thus, Barcenilla and Salvador has joined RP’s elite group of GMs--Eugene Torre, the late Rosendo Balinas, Jr., Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr., Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor, Nelson Mariano II, Mark Paragua, Wesley So, Darwin Laylo, Jayson Gonzales, John Paul Gomez and of course, Sanchez.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 15, 2010.

The 39th Olympiad in review

DESPITE logistics problems, the 39th Olympiad at Khanty Mansiyk, Russia was considered by the players as well-organized.

The Philippines men’s team started with a bang and ended with a whimper. We actually shared 49th to 63rd places, but after the Sonneborn-Berger tiebreak was applied, we placed 50th, the country’s worst performance in the biennial meet.

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The RP men’s team garnered a total of 12 match points after 11 rounds of competition, while the ladies ended up in 44th place with the same score after the tiebreak points were applied.

The Filipinos had their best-ever finish in 1988 in Thessaloniki, Greece at seventh.

But the rest of the world continued on improving while we were practically at a standstill.

The turning point was the game between Cebuano Richard Bitoon ,who up to that time was considered a hero and IM Aleksander Volodin of Estonia. Before the final-round
setback, Bitoon was the second-best Filipino performer after Wesley So with six points on four wins, four draws and one loss while playing on board five.

If Richard had won, we would have finished in the top 20.

On the other hand, National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Prospero
Pichay, Jr. was named by Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to the Panel of Advisers.

NCFP secretary-general Abraham Tolentino was elected Zone President 0f Southeast Asia.

Pichay was instrumental in the reelection of Kirsan for another four-year term after Pichay lectured former world champion Gary Kasparov on parliamentary procedure during the Congress.


Here are the top six men’s team (match /game points): 1.) Ukraine (19/31), 2.) Russia 1 (18/28) 3.) Israel(17/29), 4.) Hungary (17/26.5), 5.) China (16/29), 6.) Russia 2 (16/29.5).

Women’s section: 1.) Russia 1 (22/34) , 2.) China (18/31.5) 3.) Georgia (16/29) 4.) Cuba (16/30) 5.) USA (16/28.5 ) 6. Poland (16/29.5).

Medal winners, men’s section:

Board 1: Gold medal: Vassily Ivanchuk, 8/10, 2890.

Silver: Levon Aronian (Armenia), 7.5/10, TPR (Tourament Performance Rating) 2888.
Bronze: Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia 2), 6.5/9, 2821.

Board 2: Gold Emil Sutovsky (Israel), 6.5/8, 2895.

Silver: Zoltan Almasi (Hungary), 7/10, 2801.

Bronze: Wang Hao (China), 7.5/10, 2783.

Board 3: Gold medal Vitaly Teterev (Belarus), 7/8, 2853.

Silver: Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), 7/10, 2737.

Bronze: Sergei Rublevsky (Russia 3), 8/11, 2727.

Board 4:Gold medal Sergey Karjakin (Russia 1), 8/10, 2859.

Silver medal Zahar Efimenko (Ukraine), 8.5/11, 2783.

Bronze medal: Anish Giri (The Netherlands), 8/11, 2730.

Board 5: Gold medal: Sebastien Feller (France), 6/9, 2708.

Silver: Mateusz Bartel (Poland), 7/9, TPR 2706.

Bronze: Vlastimil Babula (Czech Republic), 7/9 2668.

Medal winners women’s section :

Board 1:Gold medal: Tatiana Kosintseva 7/10, 2628

Board 2:Gold medal Nadezhda Kosintseva (Russia 1), 8.5/10, 2662.

Board 3:Gold medal Yaniet Marrero Lopez (Cuba), 7/8, 2511.

Board 4:Gold medal Inna Gaponenko (Ukraine), 7.5/8, TPR 2691

Board 5:Gold medal Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine), 6.5/9, 2431


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 08, 2010.

Alien abductee is still Fide president

KIRSAN Ilyumzhinov remains Fide President for four more years up to 2014. He won convincingly during the elections held with the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Maniysk. He
got 95 votes to 55 for Anatoly Karpov, while three abstained.

After his re-election Ilyumzhinov reportedly offered a position to Karpov.

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Gary Kasparov, a Karpov supporter, questioned the proxy list composed of 56 countries that have entrusted their right to vote to other member states participating.

The result was a devastating loss for Karpov, although he had the support of the big federations like Germany,USA and most of Europe.

Kirsan had the votes of the small federations in Asia, Africa and South America.

A review of the developments prior to the election showed that this was probably the nastiest election in Fide history.

Ilyumzhinov criticized the destructive tactics of his opponent a few days before the Olympiad.

I understand that the Philippines voted for Ilyumzhinov. Although he is highly controversial, especially for his claim that he was visited by aliens in his Moscow apartment and taken on a guided tour in their spaceship, my opinion is that chess has become more popular worldwide during his terms starting in 1995.

Besides, I am a firm believer that we are not the only intelligent species in this universe.

Olympiad results after eight rounds. Men’s section (win-draw-loss): Ukraine 14 points, (6-2-0), Russia 1 13 points (6-1-1), Georgia 13 points (6-1-1), Azerbaijan 13 points (6-1-1), Hungary 13 points (6-1-1), Armenia 13 points (6-1-1), France 13 points (5-3-0), China 12 points (5-2-1), USA 12 points (5-2-1),Cuba 12 points (5-2-1), Israel 12 points (5-2-1).

Women’s section: Russia 1 16 points (8-0-0), Serbia 13 (6-1-1), Russia 2 13 (5-3-0), China 12 (6-0-2), Georgia 12 (6-0-2), Ukraine 12 (6-0-2), Cuba 12 (6-0-2), Hungary 12 (5-2-1), India 12 (6-0-2), Bulgaria 12 (5-2-1), Croatia 12 (5-2-1).

The Philippines’ men’s team scored nine pts with 4 wins 1 draw and 3 losses, while the women has eight with 3 wins 2 draws and 3 losses.

Here are our men’s round by round results: 4-0 vs. Korea; 1.5-2.5 vs. Spain, 2-2 vs. Scotland,; 3.5-1.5 vs. Paraguay, 3-1 vs. Uruguay, 1-3 vs. Belarus, 3-1 vs. Puerto Rico and 1-3 vs. Bulgaria.

The RP women results are:4-0 vs. Netherlands Antilles, 0.5-3.5 vs. Romania, 4-0 vs. Qatar, 2-2 vs. Israel, 2-2 vs. Argentina, 4-0 vs. Mexico, 1.5-2.5 vs. Peru and 0-4 vs. Vietnam.

Individual scores of our boys are: Wesley So (4/7), John Paul Gomez (4/7), Darwin Laylo (2.5/6). Eugene Torre (3.5/5). Richard Bitoon (4.5/7).

Individual scores of our women are: Cheradee Camacho (5/8), Catherine Perena (3.5/7), Shercila Cua (2.5/5), Rulp Ylem Jose (5/8) Jedara Docena (2/4). Cheradee was in solid contention for board 1 honors until she lost in the seventh and eighth rounds.

The leading scorers for board honors (men’s):

Board 1—Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) 6.5/7, Levon Aronian (Armenia) 5/7 and Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia)-5/7.

Board 2—Emil Sutovsky (Israel) 5/6, Wang Hao(China) 6.5/8, Victor Laznika (Czech Republic) 6/8.

Board 3—Vitaly Teterev (Belarus) 6/7, Sergei Rublevsky (Russia 3) 6/8, Judit Polgar (Hungary) 5.5/8.

Board 4—Sergei Karjakin (Russia 1) 6.5/7, Levan Pantsulaia ( Georgia) 5.5/6, Zahar Efimenko(Ukraine) 6.5/8.

Board 5—Vlastimil Babula (Czech Republic) 5/6, Nils Grandelius (Sweden) 5.5/7, Kirili Stupak (Belarus) 5/7.

Our boys were set to play Turkmenistan last night in the ninth round, while the girls were to face Bolivia.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 01, 2010.

The 39th Chess Olympiad

THE 39th Chess Olympiad started last Sept. 21 and will end on Oct. 3 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. It is an 11-round Swiss System team event for men and women and each team has four players with one reserve.

Time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, plus 30 minutes play to finish with an increment of 30 seconds/move.

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The numbers are astounding.There are 148 teams (735 players) in the men’s division and 114 teams (262 players) in the women’s division. Russia has fielded a controversial five teams in the men’s section and three in the women’s. The statistics are remarkable--772 titled players or 247 GMs, 63 WGMs, 160 IMs, 87 WIMs, 81 FMs, and 80 WFMs.

Thirty-five are over 2700 ELO and 117 are above 2600. There are a total of 220 players
above 2500 in the Men’s section.

The top seed is the first team of Russia followed by Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Russia B.
The defending champion is Armenia, which won in the last two Olympiads in Turin 2006 and Dresden 2008.
There are 22 teams with a rating average of 2600+, and all are possible medal winners.

In the women’s section, the top seed again is the team of Russia. They are the only team so far with an average ELO of 2500+. China is second with 2494, while Ukraine is third with 2493.

Georgia is the defending women’s champion.

To review, there are 312 titled players in the women section—14 GMs, 63 WGMs, and 37 IMs. 10 players are above 2500 and 37 are above 2400 ELO.

Absent is world champion Viswanathan Anand, who should have been playing for India but is now a Spanish citizen.

Special mention are the current world no.1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the volatile Veselin Topalov, playing for Bulgaria and Judit Polgar, the no.1 woman player who has only played 11 tournament games in the last 18 months. She will play board three for Hungary.

Composing the Philippines men team are GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo , Eugene Torre and IM Richard Bitoon. The women’s squad is composed of WFMs Cheradee Camacho, Catherine Pereña, Shercila Cua, Jedara Docena and Rulp Ylem Jose.

Also to be decided in the Olympiad is the election of a new set of Fide officers, which is hotly contested by the incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and former world champion Anatoly Karpov, both of Russia.

Initial feedback though shows that 93 federations, including the Philippines, have committed to support Kirsan.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s lineup includes Georgios Makropoulos of Greece for deputy president, Lewis Ncube of Zambia for vice president, Beatriz Marinello of Chile and Brazil, for vice president, Ignatius Leong of Singapore for general secretary, and Nigel Freeman of Bermuda for treasurer.

The ticket of Anatoly Karpov includes Richard Conn Jr. of the United States, for deputy president, Aguinaldo Jaime of Angola for vice president, Alisa Maric of Serbia for vice president, Abd Hamid Majid of Malaysia for general secretary, and Viktor Kapustin of Ukraine for treasurer.

GAMES. As expected the Philippines men’s and women’s teams scored identical 4-0 wins over lowly-rated Korea and Netherlands Antilles,respectively, in the first round.
In the second round, No. 16 Spain edged the No. 37 RP, 2.5-1.5 as John Paul Gomez lost to Ivan Salgado Lopez in Board 2 while the rest were drawn.

The women likewise went down against Romania, 0.5-3.5.

The men were set to play Scotland last night, while the ladies were set to face Qatar.
Vietnam, seeded 27th, registered the biggest upset of the tournament thus far with a spectacular 2.5-1.5 win against No. 3 Azerbaijan while the Topalov-led Bulgarian team, seeded eighth, No. 28 Croatia.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 25, 2010.

New twist on Jinky and Joey case

SAMUEL Estimo, Jinky Young’s lawyer, e-mailed me the other day for updates on the case of Bobby Fischer’s estate.

“The District court of Reykjavik, Iceland has reopened the case of Jinky Young, the Filipino child of the late Bobby Fischer, to allow her to add further evidence in support of her claim to the estate of the chess legend.

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“In a ruling during the hearing on Sept. 10, Judge Ms. Ingiridur Ludviksdottir reset the case to Oct. 6 to allow Marilyn Young, Jinky’s mother, to engage the services of another lawyer after their counsel in Iceland, Thordur Bogason, had a falling out with Jinky’s local lawyer, Sammy Estimo.”

Estimo has theorized Bogason had prematurely closed the case without consulting his client after the DNA tests in Germany allegedly showed Jinky was not the child of Fischer. He said there were post-DNA remedies available, like a request for a similar test to be conducted on the DNA samples of Fischer’s nephews who are also claimants to his estate. If the result proves negative, then the seven tissue samples which were taken from the coffin supposedly containing the remains of Fischer during his questionable exhumation in July, were not genuinely his. The DNA examination in Germany would then be a hoax.

Estimo also discovered a provision of Icelandic law which would have won the case for Jinky but was not used by Bogason. This law, plus the bank deposits, post cards signed by Fischer admitting he was Jinky’s daddy, photos taken in a hotel in Hong Kong and the expensive house which Fischer bought for Jinky in Davao City could have clinched Jinky’s claim to the estate of her father.

But even if Jinky loses at the District Court, she can still appeal to the Supreme Court where she will have a better chance. Bogason admitted in his letter to Marilyn dated Sept. 11 a losing party at the District Court can go to the Supreme Court
within two weeks from receipt of the lower court’s ruling.

ANTONIO. Philippine Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia said he cannot just deprive Joey Antonio of his benefits and his P20,000 allowance based on the request of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines(NCFP).

“Obviously, there’s something wrong here but we need to discuss it first. We will talk to the parties concerned. We need to clarify things,” said Garcia.

The NCFP, through its president Butch Pichay, removed Antonio from the national team that will play in the Olympiad in Russia and the Asian Games in China and replaced him with Richard Bitoon.

Antonio elected to play in some minor tournaments in the USA and did not play in the country’s major international tournaments, the Pichay Cup and the more important $100,000 Capomanes Memorial.

The PSC provided the airfare and daily allowance for Antonio for the US trip based on a letter of request signed by Pichay himself.

“It would be a pity if an elite athlete like Joey Antonio is dropped from the national pool when he is not at fault,” Garcia said.

Pichay said, “Pwede namang ipagpaliban yung pagsali sa US. Kung wala siyang respeto sa Pichay Cup, kahit sa Campomanes Cup man lang siya sumali.”

LOCAL. There will be a tournament this Sept 19 at 9 a.m. in lower San Roque (near City Hall) Bulacao. Format is seven rounds Swiss with 25-minute time control. It is restricted to players 18 and below. For more details contact Denis Navales 09286614674.

Meanwhile, Cebuanos Felix Shaun Balbona and Kyle Sevillano qualified for the Shell
Kiddies Grand Finals. They qualified in the Cagayan leg along with Jhon Rey Batucan of Davao City. Congratulations.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 18, 2010.

Bitoon replaces Antonio in RP team

THE National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) has named Cebuano IM Richard Bitoon to replace GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr. in the national team that will play in the Chess Olympiad in Russia this month and in the Asian Games in China this November.

Antonio was dropped from the national team after he elected to play in two minor events in the United States rather than compete in the Pichay Cup and the first Campomanes Memorial.

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Bitoon, 34, who was called the Gata Kamsky of Cebu while he was growing up, said he is ready to take part in his third Olympiad.

He scored a respectable 6/9 points in the Campo Memorial to tie for seventh to 13th together with Wesley So, Darwin Laylo and several others. The three were the best Filipino placers in the memorial.

Bitoon also donned the national colors in the 1998 Kalmykia and 2000 Istanbul Olympiads which was highly controversial. The issue is too complicated to be discussed here as the Philippines sent two separate teams.

Bitoon, the 2008 Singapore Masters champion, will be joining GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Eugene Torre in the national team.

We placed 46th in the last Olympiad at Dresden. Can we do better without Joey around?

Meanwhile, Antonio is planning to sue NCFP and president Prospero Pichay for removing him from the RP team.

NM Samuel Estimo, Joey’s lawyer explained that under the by-laws of the NCFP, before any disciplinary action can be slapped against any player, he must be given a chance to defend himself before the NCFP Internal Affairs Committee after proper notice has been served.

In the case of Antonio, Estimo said the GM was denied his right to due process.

NEW GMS. I featured Cebuano Banjo Barcenilla a few weeks ago as our next GM.

Joining him is Italy based-IM Roland Salvador who recently snared his third and final norm in Italy late last month.

About 250 players competed in the International Chess Tournament Fermo-Porto San Giorgio. In the Master Open, six players shared first place with 7.0 points each: IM Salvador Roland (2498, Philippines ), GM Epishin Vladimir (2598, Russia), GM Prohaszka Peter (2526, Hungary), GM Meijers Viesturs (2474, Latvia), GM David Alberto (2622, Luxemburg) and GM Leon Hoyos Manuel (2556, Mexico).

Salvador was declared winner because he had the best tiebreak score.

NCFP President/ Chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. lauded Salvador’s latest feat.

“He deserves this... I’m really happy for him. This proves once again that the Filipino can be at par with the world’s best woodpushers,” said Pichay.

“Inaalay ko po sa bayan ang pagkapanalo ko dito sa Italy at pagkuha ng third at final GM norm. Naging inspirasyon din po natin si President Pichay na patuloy na sumusuporta sa local at international tournaments para lalong mapalakas ang chess sa Pilipinas,” said Salvador.

With his impressive performance, Salvador raised his Elo rating from 2498 to 2511. He achieved his first GM norm in 2004 in Bratto, Italy and picked up his second in 2006 in Genova, Italy.

The two will soon join the ranks of RP’s elite group of GMs—Torre, the late Rosendo Balinas Jr., Antonio Jr., Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor, Nelson Mariano II, Mark Paragua, So, Laylo, Gonzales, Gomez and Joseph Sanchez .

Salvador’s and Barcenilla’s status as full-pledge GMs will be confirmed in the upcoming Fide Congress to coincide with the Chess Olympiad in Russia on Sept. 21 to Oct. 3.


September 10, 2010.

Just say sorry, Joey

GM JOEY Antonio is out of the Philippine team that will be sent to the Chess Olympiad in Russia and the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou ,China.

Not only that, he stands to lose his monthly allowance of P20,000.

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What happened? How can such a misfortune be possible?

After examining all the facts and following the drama the past week or so, my conclusion is that it is all a matter of misunderstanding.

But Joey should not justify his actions and air his grievances to the media as the blame largely falls upon himself as he was warned and had ample time to rectify his error. What he should do is to admit his mistake and ask for forgiveness from NCFP president Prospero Pichay, who is a reasonable man.

The whole thing started when Joey snubbed the two most prestigious international tournaments of the country--the back-to- back Pichay Cup and the Campomanes Memorial.

The $100,000 Campomanes Memorial is considered to be a major tournament this year and even Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and Ignatius Leong, the Fide president and secretary-general were here.

Instead Joey went to the USA and competed in the minor 2nd Central California Open which he won. He also planned to play in the Atlantic Open and return home on Sept. 9, which is too late for the Campo Memorial.

Meanwhile, Pichay said Antonio faces expulsion from the national team if he fails to return to the country in time and participate in the first Campomanes Memorial .

Pichay instructed NCFP executive director Willie Abalos to relay the possible sanction
to Antonio.

“We are giving him the chance and will wait until Saturday. If he fails to show up then we have no other choice but to replace him,” added Abalos.

“Definitely, we will sanction him. Discipline is important for a national player and we will not tolerate players who are prima donnas,” said Pichay.

Antonio said, “I have all the documents signed by Mr. Pichay. I also made a courtesy call on PSC chairman Richie Garcia before I left so I am completely puzzled by their decision, which I hope is not final. Physically, I cannot play in the ‘Campo’ Memorial because my plane ticket has been booked until Sept. 9. If they would send me a new ticket, I will go home ASAP.”

I note a tinge of arrogance here. He should have gone home pronto!

Pichay said, “Yes, I signed the letter intended for the PSC, but it doesn’t mean that he was given the go signal to miss the two major events in the country. We already had the order that national players must take part in at least one tournament, either the Pichay Cup or the Campomanes Memorial. His action shows that he is not serious in joining the team.”

Antonio, the country’s No. 2, said, “Modesty aside, I have given so much honor and glory to the Philippines being one of the main pillars for the RP team in the past 10 Olympiads along with Eugene Torre. I have dedicated my life to the sport and now, they just want to snuff out the fire in me?”

GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Asia’s first grandmaster Eugene Torre are the other members of the team.

Joey’s replacement will be chosen after the Campo Memorial.

My wish though is for Joey to remain on the team. After all, he has learned his lesson. Taking legal action, which he and his wife are planning to do, is not advisable. It will only make things worse for him.

CLINIC. A clinic on basic chess principles will be conducted in Gun-ob,Lapu-lapu City for kiddies 14 years and younger on Sept.5.

After the clinic, there will be a tournament among the participants with attractive prizes at stake. For details, contact Manny Manzanares at 09058386318 or Jun Olis at 09103476987.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Experience team vs. Rising Stars

THIS distinct annual event pits five highly-talented young players against five older and experienced ones. It was held last Aug. 12 to 22 at the five-star Hotel Krasnapolsky in the heart of Amsterdam.

The “Experience” team consisted of Boris Gelfand (Israel, 2739), Peter Svidler (Russia, 2734), Peter Heine Nielsen (Denmark, 2700), Loek van Wely (The Netherlands, 2677) and Ljubomir Ljubojevic (Serbia, 2572). The “Rising Stars” was made up of Hikaru Nakamura (United States, 2729), Fabiano Caruana (Italy, 2697), Wesley So (Philippines, 2674), Anish Giri (Netherlands, 2672) and David Howell (England, 2616).

The tournament was a double round-robin Schveningen type match, in which the players of each team play each player of the other team twice.

It was the fifth and final edition of the tournament. The youngsters won the first three editions. This year the rising stars won again but barely, 26-24.

This tournament is organized by the Monaco-based Association Max Euwe of renowned
billionaire Joop van Oosterom. The players are treated like movie stars and the only thing that is expected in return is that they entertain the public with great fighting chess.

Each player of the winning team receives 2,000 euros, and the losing team 1,000 euros each. In case of a tie, each player gets 1,500 euros. In addition, each player receives 500 euros for each point he scores.

There’s also a special prize for the “Rising Stars” team and the player with the highest score will be invited to the 2011 Melody Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament in Nice, provided he scores over 50 percent. In case two players reach the same score, a blitz tiebreaker will decide who will be invited.

Nakamura and Giri were tied at the end of the tournament and a tiebreak blitz game was played. Nakamura, renowned as one of the world’s best blitz players, swept the series 2-0, and will join an elite field in Nice next year for some blindfold and rapid chess.

Our Wesley So is turning out to be like Peter Leko of Hungary and Tigran Petrosian of Russia—great players with a penchant for draws. Wesley did not win a game in 10 rounds and had nine draws. His single loss against the lowest rated Ljubojevic who I remember was a nemesis of Eugene Torre in the 70s and 80s.

BARCENILLA.US-based GM elect Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla’s long-overdue grandmaster title will be tackled again .

“Mag meeting ulit daw sa September sa next Congress during Olympiad,” said Barcenilla, former Asian Junior champion.

It was Fide delegate Casto “Toti” Abundo of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) who assured Barcenilla’s long-ovedue GM title application.

“Sabi ni Casto Abundo iti-take up nila ang application ko daw ulit,” said Barcenilla.

Barcenilla achieved his first GM norm in 1993 in Jakarta and picked up his second norm five years later in Subic. He won his third GM norm in 2000 in New York and his fourth in 2009 in Phoenix. Barcenilla best ELO rating is 2518.

Barcenilla became the fourth Filipino GM after Eugene Torre, the late Rosendo Balinas and Rogelio Antonio, Jr. when he obtained the third and final GM result in the
Marshall Chess Club GM Invitational in New York in June 2000.

However, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) did not confirm Barcenilla’s GM status since his third norm was a result of a tournament which used the Marshall system.

This tournament format is not included among those cited in Fide’s guidelines that could bestow GM norms.

He is a nephew of the late Bombi Aznar and is from Carcar.


The Bobby Fischer saga continues

THE DNA test on former chess champion Bobby Fischer’s corpse has shown that he was not the father of nine-year-old Jinky Young, as claimed by Jinky’s mother Marilyn Young.

The Youngs are from Davao City.

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I am reprinting the comments of Jinky’s lawyer, Samuel Estimo, which was e-mailed to me, last night.

“The exhumation of Bobby Fischer was not done in the normal way. His coffin should have been brought up and opened to make sure the seven tissue samples taken from the alleged remains were those of Bobby Fischer.

Indeed, the procedure undertaken borders on the doubtful. The lot where Fischer was buried belongs to the family of Gardar Sverisson, a close friend of Miyoko Watai.

He had complete access to the area, and in fact, Fischer was buried there in front of the church in an early January morning without the church pastor knowing it. Who knows what could have taken place there between the date of burial and on the days before the exhumation?

As it will appear now, the Targ nephews will collect the estate of Bobby Fischer. Of the three claimants, the nephews are the least-favored as far as Bobby was concerned.

The two women closest to his heart were Jinky Young and Miyoko Watai, and if he could just have written a last will, he would have bequeathed his entire estate to the two.

I doubt if the Targ brothers would get a single kroner in that will.

I am sure Bobby will not like the way his estate will be disposed of. The strong secondary evidences, like the photos, bank remittances to Jinky, the postcards which Bobby sent to Jinky where he signed “Daddy” and even the expensive house and lot that Bobby bought for Jinky in the Philippines, should have been factored in the disposition of his estate.

“Jinky will be denied her rightful due to the estate of Bobby Fischer!”

I am positive that Marilyn and Jinky would not have gone to Iceland to have their DNA test had Marilyn not been sure of the paternity of Jinky.

Either Marilyn is terribly wrong or the tissue removed during exhumation was not that of Fischer. From what I have gathered, the DNA sample was taken by digging a hole in the ground and into the coffin “out of respect’’ for Fischer and the coffin was not opened.

Although I am not a lawyer, the case should not be considered close. It is clear that Fischer accepted Jinky as his daughter as shown by the continuous financial support given to her and other evidences. It should go to court arbitration as the amount involved is substantial (estimated at P100 million to 140 million).

Although there is no will, Bobby’s real intention should be respected.

TALISAY. The Talisay City Chess Club has launched the CCaT program.

CCaT (pronounced “sikat” ) is an abbreviation for Chess Clinic and Tournaments. Its primary aim is to promote chess to kids who are 14 years old and younger.

It also offers an alternative option to computer war games, gambling and illegal drugs and has organized chapters in Barangays for this purpose.

The CCaT Program is on-going. It started in Barangay San Roque, then Bulacao under Antonio Cabrera and organized by Loreto Powao. Now it is Tabunok’s turn.

Barangay Captain Maning Cabriana is inviting all kids to participate in the coming tournament on Aug. 22 9 a.m. at the Tabunok Sports Complex. It will be seven rounds Swiss, 30 minutes play to finish. Registration is P25.

Contact persons are Loreto Powao, organizer, Vicente Rabaya, Tabunok Chapter President and Rowell Campaner, Bulacao Chapter President. Tournament director is former Cepca president Manny Manzanares.


The incredible Polgar sisters

IF YOU have not heard of the Polgar sisters, then you are not a chess player.

Former Cepca president Nicnic Climaco of negative ion fame lent me a book “Talent is overrated” by Geoff Colvin and it is an eye-opener. The author described partly the chess achievements of the sisters—Susan,Sofia and Judit—and how they did it.

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Susan became the first woman to become a grandmaster and was the women’s world champion several times.

Judit became the youngest GM. She is also considered to be the greatest and strongest woman chess player in history.

Sofia, an International master, scored an amazing 8.5/9 in a tournament in 1989 known as the “sack of Rome” over a phalanx of GMs. And that is considered one of the greatest performance ever by a chess player-- male or female.

Why do they excel? Most people will say because they are talented, but that is not exactly the right answer.

Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. The secret? Painful and demanding practice and hard work.

For one thing, Colvin said, “You do not possess a natural gift for a certain job, because targeted natural gifts don’t exist.

You are not born a chess grandmaster, swimmer or pianist. You will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. And not just any hard work, but work of a particular type that’s demanding and painful.”

Bobby Fischer devoted 10 to 14 hours of intense chess study everyday that would kill an ordinary person (at least me).

Understand that talent doesn’t mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits.

It’s an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well.

British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, “The evidence we have surveyed ... does not support the (notion that) excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts.”

In virtually every field of endeavor, most people learn quickly at first, then more slowly and then stop developing completely.

Yet a few do improve for years and even decades, and go on to achieve greatness. Why? How are certain people able to go on improving?

The answer? Deliberate practice.

Lazlo Polgar, a Hungarian educational psychologist, believed that great performers are made, not born. He wanted to prove it by doing it himself.

He made it known that if a woman would marry and have children with him, he would conduct an experiment that would make his children extraordinary achievers.

Amazingly, he found such a woman, a schoolteacher, named Klara who agreed to
cooperate with him.

Why he choose chess was because his first child was female—Susan--and the prevailing view then was women couldn’t compete with men at the highest level. Also, the improvement in chess can be easily monitored. Thus this would be the ideal realm to
prove his theory.

The couple devoted their lives to teaching Susan and her two sisters, starting at age 3. All three daughters studied at home.

The parents quit their jobs to devote full time to teaching them hours and hours of chess instruction.

Lazlo bought thousands of chess books as the children progressed. They also learned other subjects as insisted by school authorities and had to pass exams and all the children speak several languages.

One can only wonder at the results if Laszlo had boys instead of girls as chess is a man’s game.

Susan said, “My father believes that innate talent is nothing, that success is 99% hard work. I agree with him.”

This story illustrates how the principle of deliberate practice,when carried to an extra-ordinary level ,produce extraordinary achievement.


Vietnam’s chess factory

THE Philippines and Vietnam have the same budget for chess—5 million. The big difference is that the amount for the Philippines is in pesos, while for Vietnam, it’s in US dollars. Yuck!

Vietnam is the fastest growing economy in Southeast Asia. As a result, sports, especially chess, gets a lot of attention from the government.

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Vietnam adopted the old Soviet model and offers a monthly allowance to children as young as four who excel in tournaments.

The result? Two of their brightest talents made waves in the last two major tournaments.

Le Quang Liem, only 19 and is ranked higher than Wesley So at No. 55 in the world, tied for first at the Moscow Open in February. He followed that up by snaring the Aeroflot Open, the strongest Open tournament of the year. That qualified him for the Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, Germany, an elite event.

Le finished solo second behind Ruslan Ponomariov. Vladimir Kramnik and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov tied for third. The other players were Peter Leko and Arkadi Naiditsch.

This was a category 20 tournament and Le’s showing was considered a fantastic achievement. He showed he is able to compete with the top players of the world and will soon be a strong contender to be world champion.

The other Vietnamese player on his way to the top is Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, 20. He tied for third at the same Aeroflot Open behind Le.

Just recently, Nguyen tied for first with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Fabiano Caruana in the top section of the Biel Chess Festival in Switzerland where our Wesley So placed fifth.

What is Vietnam’s formula?

“Chess clubs are spread throughout the political structure of provinces and cities,” said Casto Abundo, deputy president of the Asian Chess Federation. “Each club has its own budget at its disposal and concentrates on the development of the youth. They are now harvesting the fruits of their labor.”

The coach of Vietnam’s national chess team, Mikhail Vasyliev, a Ukrainian, said the Vietnamese government’s approach to chess works because “efforts are directed at the most promising players from a young age, rather than at those children whose parents have the money to pay for classes.”

Many of Vietnam’s best players are from poor families, Vasyliev said.

Children as young as four who do well in tournaments receive monthly allowances and free chess instruction.

“They get around $300 per month plus room and board and three or four times a year they can go abroad,” Vasyliev says, “(and that’s in a country where) $100 per month is considered a good salary.”

In April, the top four male and female winners of Vietnam’s national chess tournament took home a total of $13,500 in prizes.

“Nowhere in the world are there children who get these stipends.” chess player Huang Xuan Thanh Khiet said, “If the child is talented, all the conditions (for his improvement) are created. That’s how we make good players.”

In 2008, seven-year-old Tran Minh Thang became the world chess champion for children under eight and many more are coming.

For starters, how about giving an allowance to Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano? He won the 16 and Under tournament last weekend at SM with a score of 6.5/7 and he is only 11 yrs old! Give monthly allowances also to kiddie players Vic Glyssen Derotas, Jeremy Pepito and the talented Balbona siblings--Jessa Marie,Marq Gabriele, Felix Shaun ,John Francis and James Andrew.

Calling Richie Garcia of the Philippine Sports Commission!

How about it Mayor Michael Rama, who I know is a good chess player? If the city can give P4,000 to seniors and P10,000 to high school graduates, these kids deserve it too. They can give honor to the city and country.