Friday, February 25, 2011

Remember the AlaMainz and others

THE economic downturn worldwide has drastically affected sponsorship in chess but obviously not Ceboom, as you will read later on.

Chess festivals ala Mainz are rare in the Fide chess calendar . This is not your ordinary tournament but a chess fiesta, comprising several events. This includes Chess960,a variant conceptualized by Bobby Fischer.

More than a thousand world class players regularly attend this festival in Germany and a decade full of dedication and passion for international rapid chess has come to an end.

The Brainchild of Hans-Walter Schmitt. It started in Frankfurt before changing to the city of Mainz. Last year there was a slimmed down event and this year no sponsor could be found.

The M-Tel in Bulgaria, and the Youth vs Experienced tournament in the Netherlands are major super- tournaments and have also been cancelled.

M-Tel Masters is an annual super-GM chess tournament held since 2005 in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, sponsored and organized by the leading Bulgarian mobile network operator, M-Tel.

The “Youth vs Experience” Chess Tournament is a double round robin ‘Scheveningen’ team tournament played in Amsterdam.

This will also be the last year of Melody Amber, the only major tourn ament played blindfold by the cream of the crop.

This 20th Amber tournament will be the final edition of an event unparalleled in the history of chess and will be played next month.

In this final jubilee edition the following grandmasters will take part: World Champion Viswanathan Anand (India), Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Alexander Grischuk (Russia), Vasily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Sergey Karjakin (Russia), Boris Gelfand (Israel), Hikaru Nakamura (United States), Vugar Gashimov (Azerbaijan) and Anish Giri (The Netherlands).

Bombi Aznar Memorial Hazel Morala, our 13- year old girl journalist-chessplayer ,sent this report.

“The Bombi Aznar Memorial Chess Tournament held in Elizabeth Mall, which started on February 19 and lasted for three days, turned out to be another feather on Sander Severino’s already well-feathered hat, a Fide Master who traveled all the way to Cebu from Bacolod.

Though physically-challenged, FM Severino, a highly regarded chess player, had rendered speechless the local chess enthusiasts of Cebu after making a staggering accomplishment of being able to stay on the top boards throughout the whole tournament.

With 8 points, the latter was acknowledged the victor of the 9-round tourney, taking possession of the P20,000 worth of cash prize and a grand trophy. Next in line is another 8 pointer, Rogelio Enriquez, who in turn took hold of P10,000. Meanwhile, Barlo Nadera and Johnnel Balquin scored 7.5 points each, seizing the third and fourth place respectively.

Meanwhile, as the other winners were enjoying their victories, Eden Tumbos, a chess devotee from La Salle, was recognized as the top female awardee of the said tournament after gaining 6 points. In addition, Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano of the University of San Carlos, the child marvel of Cebu, was acknowledged the top Kiddies awardee of the same tourney.”

Charter Day The Cebu City Charter Chess Open will start tomorrow at Elizabeth Mall up to Monday and offers an unprecedented P300,000 in total prizes with P100,000 going to the champion.

With this much moolah, this tournament has attracted the top players of the country led by the Boy Wonder Wesley So and other GMs namely Joey Antonio, John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo.

Eugene Torre might also play.

IMs playing are Cebuanos Richard Bitoon and Barlo Nadera and Oliver Dimakiling.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 25, 2011.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cebu hosts two big tournaments

CHESS is alive and kicking in Ceboom. Thanks to Boogie Lim of Rose Pharmacy, the Aznar family and the Cebu City Government.

Starting tomorrow up to Monday, the Bombi Aznar Memorial tournament will be played at Elizabeth Mall starting at 10 a.m.

It is held in honor of the late NM Matias “Bombi” Aznar III, a member of the Cebu Sports Hall of Fame. It has a total prize of P50,000, broken down to: Champion (P20,000), second, (P10,000), third (P5,000), fourth (P3,000), fifth to 15th places (P1,000 each).

The top ladies and kiddies player will get P500, each.

The registration fee is P100 for ladies and kiddies, P200 for students and P300 for the rest.

Other reminders:

1.) Registration form is available at Deep Blue Woodpusher’s Coffee, SM City and at Colonnade Chess Club. 2. Submit registration form with your payment at tournament site not later than 9:30 a.m. Saturday February 19 . No registration,no play. 3. All participants shall play in one group only. 4.The top lady and kiddies players who will place among the major prize winners will receive only the higher prize. The next ranked lady or kiddies player shall then be awarded the prize originally intended for the top lady or kiddies player. 5. Tournament System: 9 rounds Swiss; Time Control: 1:05 each player.

This tourney will be an annual event organized by Rose Pharmacy Chess Club and sponsored by Southwest Finance Corp., Lapu-Lapu Rural Bank, Inc. & Rural bank of Matag-ob (Leyte) Inc.

A bigger tournament will follow in a week’s time—Cebu Charter Day Chess Open on Feb 26-28.

It is also organized by Rose Pharmacy Chess Club and sponsored by the Cebu City Government through the Office of the Committee of Games, Amusement and Sports.

Venue is at Elizabeth Mall and the format is 9 rounds Swiss and time control is 1.05 hour per player.

The prizes in the open division are: champion (P100,000), second (P50,000), third (P30,000), fourth (P20,000), fifth (P10,000), sixth to 10th (P5,000, each), 11th to 15th (P3,000, each), 16th to 25th (P2,000, each).

In the ladies and kiddies divisions, the champion will get P3,000, while the second and third placers will get P3,000 and P2,000.

The registration fee for the open division is P400 and students who can present an ID will only pay P200. In the ladies and kiddies divisions, the registration fee is P100.

Those who want to join the open division must submit their registration form and payment before 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 26.

The ladies and kiddies divisions will be played separately at the Mabolo Parish Church Plaza. Both groups will follow the seven-round format, 25 minutes to play.

The ladies group will start at 9 a.m. on Feb. 24, while the kiddies division will be at 9 a.m. on Feb. 25.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 18, 2011.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love life of World Chess champions

IT'S Valentine season once again and, as usual, my article is about love.

Though there have been many great players, only a few have been honored to hold the title of World Champion.

The first world champion was Wilhelm Steinitz. His second wife committed him to the insane asylum in New York in 1900, and soon after, died destitute and was buried in a pauper‘s grave.

At 42, Emmanuele Lasker married Martha Cohn, a rich widow and already a grandmother.
According to Jose Raoul Capablanca’s second wife, Olga, his first marriage broke down as he and his first wife Gloria were cheating on each other.

Alexander Alekhine had four wives, the last, Grace Freeman, was sixteen years his senior.

The wife of Mikhael Botvinnik was a ballet dancer named Gayane Davidovna, the daughter of his algebra and geometry teacher.

Vassili Smyslov and his wife of more than half a century, Nadezhda, spent their final few years in near-poverty as his heart ailment deteriorated.

Sally Landau was the first wife of Mikhail Tal who said Tal was a romantic man. She said that Tal flew in from another planet just to play chess.

Tigran Petrosian, Rona Yakovlevna, was an amazing woman who was mainly responsible for making him World Champion.

Since 1976. Boris Spassky has lived in France with his 3rd wife, Marina, and became a French citizen in 1978. He has competed in France in the Chess Olympiads.

Bobby Fischer had a marriage of convenience with Miyoko Watai to escape imprisonment.

He later denied being married. He is often portrayed as reluctant to be around women and does not know how to handle himself around them. He had a controversial intimate relationship with Filipina Marilyn Young who lives in Davao.

Anatoly Karpov’s first wife was Irina Kuimova and they have a son, Anatoly. His second wife is Natalia Bulanova with a daughter, Sophia Garry Kasparov’s private life is messy. He has a daughter by his first wife Masha, who won a court order forbidding his daughter from visiting Kasparov in Moscow for fear she would not return to the US. He had a son with his second wife, Yulia, but they are also divorced.

On Dec. 30, 2006, Vladimir Kramnik married French journalist Marie Laure Germon, and had a daughter named Daria. His wife has retained her own surname, rather than becoming Mrs Kramnik, but Vladimir said this was largely for professional reasons (she
is well-known in journalistic circles).

Aruna Anand is as vital—perhaps even more so—to Anand’s wellbeing both as player and as person, than his computer. They live in Spain and have become Spanish citizens.

This was the main reason why Anand refused an honorary doctorate degree from a
University in India.

There had been 13 Women World Champions.

In 1937, at 31 years old, Vera Menchik married Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson twenty-eight years her senior.

Lyudmila Rudenko was married to a scientist named Lev Davidovich Goldstein Xie Jun is married to her former coach GM Wu Shaobin.

In 1994, Polgar married computer consultant Jacob Shutzman, and lived in New York, but later divorced. In December 2006, she married her long-time business manager and friend, Paul Truong.

Zhu Chen is married to Qatari Grandmaster Mohamad Al-Modiahki, and now plays for Qatar.

Alexandra Kosteniuk is married to Swiss-born Diego Garces, who is of Colombian descent, and 25 years older than her.

The other Women World champions are Elisabeth Bykova,Olga Rubtsova, Nona
Gaprindasvili,Maia Chiburdanidze, Antoanette Stefanova, Xu Yuhua and the current world champion 16 year old Hou Yifan, the girl wonder of the chess World.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 11, 2011.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bobby Fischer’s descent into madness

BOBBY Fischer against the World” is a documentary about the late chess genius who was admired by chess players as the greatest of all time but was also considered as one of the most reviled persons by the rest of the world.

The film is produced by documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus, who decided to do it after reading the New York Times obituary on the chess legend in 2008.

It is scheduled to be shown on HBO this coming July. Watch for it.

It follows Fischer from his childhood in Brooklyn, New York, to his death from kidney failure in Iceland at the age of 64.

At the height of the cold war, his match with world champion Boris Spassky, played in 1972 in Iceland, took on the magnitude of an international confrontation. When Fischer delayed his arrival, Henry Kissinger recalled in an interview that he called Fischer and bluntly told him to “go.”

Garbus built her film around the drama of the match. After winning that match, he got mad, literally, and stopped playing chess.

He showed up 20 years later in 1992 in a rematch with Spassky in war-torn Yugoslavia,
breaking a United Nations embargo. He reportedly earned about $5 million.

After Sept. 11, his long simmering anti-American and anti-Semitic feelings exploded in a tirade.

The Philippines was a special country as Eugene Torre and the late Florencio Campomanes were his close friends and he also had a controversial intimate relationship with Filipina Marilyn Young.

Garbus, together with editors Karen Schmeer and Michael Levine, has managed to show the pieces of his shattered life. They put together a complex and fascinating portrait of genius wasted.

Did he have a lifelong mental illness?

Rick Warner, a movie critic of Bloomberg News, interviewed Garbus and here are excerpts from that interview (Reprinted here with his kind permission).

Warner: What made the 1972 match against Spassky such a cultural phenomenon? It was such a big deal that it was televised by PBS and ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”

Garbus: The Cold War played a significant role. The Soviet Union dominated chess and used it to demonstrate its intellectual superiority over the West. Then here comes this Brooklyn boy who taught himself chess in his apartment to take on the Soviet machine.

Warner: Give me an idea of how much attention it got?

Garbus: It was the highest-rated PBS show ever and “Wide World of Sports” interrupted prime-time programs with updates. They did a survey of bars in New York City , and more people were following the chess match than the New York Mets.

Warner: Fischer grew up not knowing his biological father and was left alone at 16 when his mother moved out of their apartment. How much did that scar him?

Garbus: Bobby obviously didn’t have a great home life, but I also think he had a disposition for a personality disorder. He became obsessed with chess, and nothing else really mattered to him.

Warner: Three years after winning the world championship against Spassky, he forfeited it by refusing to defend his title and retired from competitive chess. Is that when he started to decline mentally?

Garbus: Bobby was singularly focused on chess, and when that was gone, his life didn’t make much sense to him anymore. He had no support system—no close friends, relatives or loves—and he drifted into mental illness.

Warner: When Fischer was a fugitive living overseas, he made a lot of anti-Semitic and anti-American statements, including praise of the 9/11 terrorists. Was that him speaking or his mental illness?

Garbus: I don’t believe Bobby hated Jewish people. He was Jewish himself. He was suffering from paranoid psychosis.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 04, 2011.