Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pestaño: A remarkable chess success story

Thursday, February 21, 2013

THIS is a wonderful story worth telling. In fact it is so outstanding that it has been featured over and over again by newspapers worldwide for the past several years now and has been made into a book “Queen of Katwe ” by Tim Crothers.
Now that Walt Disney is filming a movie about this girl (started last year) it is time to write about her.
Phiona Mutesi is an Ugandan chess player. She is not certain when she was born, although Fide has estimated it to be 1993. Her father died of AIDS while she was only three and afterwards her older sister Juliet died of an unknown cause.
She couldn’t read or write. As a child, she scrounged for food, selling corn each day for herself, her mother, and her brother in Katwe, a slum in Kampala ,the capital of Uganda,
The extreme poverty and deprivation in Katwe is hard for many around the world to imagine. Crothers wrote that “human waste from downtown Kampala is dumped directly into the slum. There is no sanitation.”
Mutesi woke at 5 a.m. every day to “begin a two-hour trek through Katwe to fill a jug with drinkable water, walking through lowland that is often so severely flooded by Uganda’s torrential rains that many residents sleep in hammocks near their ceilings to avoid drowning” Crothers wrote .
“I thought the life I was living, that everyone was living that life,” the teenager told CNN, describing her childhood. “I was living a hard life, sleeping on the streets, and you couldn’t have anything to eat.”
She heard about a religious charity organization that mentored slum kids and served food, and also taught the kids an odd game called chess.
“I was hungry,” Mutesi says, “I’d never heard of chess, and I’d never seen it. So… I was like, ‘Maybe I can also go there to learn about chess and get a cup of porridge.’”
She remembers on her first visit that, “I was very dirty…They didn’t accept me even to touch the pieces.”
Robert Katende, a missionary , had started a chess program in Katwe, Kampala. He offered a bowl of porridge to any child who would show up and learn.
The first indications that she was good came when she started to beat the boys even older than she. Chess is considered too difficult for girls. But Mutesi changed that belief.
Mutesi is not one of the world’s top chess players, but she is the first titled female Ugandan player.
Eventually, she became her country’s champion -- and represented Uganda at international tournaments. In 2009, she traveled to Sudan.
In 2010 she played on board 2 for Uganda at the 39th Chess Olympiad in Russia, and as of 2011 she is a three-time Women’s Junior Champion in her country. Last year, she played in the Olympiad in Istanbul.
Phiona is also the youngest person ever to win the African chess championship
“Chess has changed my life. Chess gave me hope, whereby now I’m having a hope of becoming a doctor and ... a grand master,” she said.
A grant from a program called Sports Outreach has allowed her to go back to school and she’s learning to read and write.
“I feel happy,” she said when asked about the growing attention. “I’m excited. I didn’t have hope that one time, one day, I would be like someone who can encourage people, and they start playing chess,” she told CNN.
Meanwhile, Mutesi is becoming an inspiration to people all over the world as she is “the ultimate underdog.” She has overcome all kinds of obstacles that the world has placed in front of her thru chess. Mutesi’s success has challenged the expectations of girls worldwide who are like her and Walt Disney thinks she would be a good example to all those similarly situated.,

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pestaño: Wives of selected grandmasters

Friday, February 15, 2013

BEHIND every successful man is a woman. I am sure most grandmasters have the support and encouragement of their wives or the marriage will not last long as chess is a difficult profession.
Our article today is all about love as yesterday was Valentine’s day.
Eugene Torre is married to the former Marilyn Alano, who was the Miss Basilan in 1976 and is niece to the then Basilan governor. Eugene holds two records—Asia’s first grandmaster and for having played in the Chess Olympiad 21 times.
Rogelio “Joey” Antonio has a supportive wife, Aileen, a niece of former Manila mayor Mel Lopez. Joey has been playing in the Olympiad for a long time, mostly in board 2 behind Eugene. He is a 10-time National Champion.
Mark Paragua, the only player aside from Wesley So to have a rating of over 2600, is married to Mary Christine Joyce Dacayo.
Cebuano Richard Bitoon, the Sportswriters Association of Cebu athlete of the year in 2012, has a lifetime partner in Joyce Lee, a registered nurse and med-tech.
Another Cebuano GM, Enrico Sevillano, who was a recent visitor and played in two simuls last December at the Colonnade Mall and Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu is now a resident of the USA. His wife is Rose, reportedly a nurse.
Another Cebuano who is also based in the USA is Banjo Barcenilla, a nephew of Bombi Aznar. His wife is also a chess player from Iligan, Lilibeth Lee.
The executive director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, John Paul Gomez, is married to Shiella Sorrel, a graduate of De La Salle University.
Miguel Quinteros from Argentina is married to a sister of former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz, Benjie (Miss Philippines, Maid of Cotton), the prettiest of the Diaz sisters which includes Rio (Mutya ng Pilipinas).
Bobby Fischer had a marriage of convenience with the former president of the Japanese Chess Federation, Miyoko Watai, to escape imprisonment in Japan. I think she inherited Fischer’s estate estimated at $3 million.
Alexander Alekhine was married four times. In 1920 he married a Russian baroness, who was several years older. In 1921, he married Annelise Ruegg, a Swiss journalist who was 13 years older. His fourth wife, Grace Freeman Wishard (1876-1956) was a chess player and 16 years older. They were married in 1934.
Anatoly Karpov has a son from his first marriage. His second wife, Natasha, was a librarian. They were married in 1987.
All-time great Garry Kasparov has been married three times (Masha, Yulia, and Daria), and has three children.
Emanuel Lasker married Martha Bamberger Cohn at the age of 42. He was the best friend and roommate of Albert Einstein.
Mikhail Botvinnik’s wife was an Armenian named Gayane Davidovna, the daughter of his algebra and geometry teacher. She was a student at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Leningrad and later, a ballerina in the Bolshoi Theatre.
Boris Spassky married Marina Stcherbatcheff, a secretary of the French embassy in Moscow. This was his third marriage.
Jose Capablanca married Gloria Simoni Beautucourt in Havana in 1921. He had a second marriage in 1938 to Olga Choubaroff Chagodaeva, a Russian princess in Elktron, Maryland.
All of those mentioned were former world champions aside from the Pinoys and Quinteros.
Paknaan B. The top 5 winners in the Paknaan B Mixed Open tournament last Feb. 9-10 were Allan Pason, King James Torres, Diego Claro and Dennis Labrador. The participants were kiddies, ladies and non-rated players.
This coming Saturday and Sunday there will be an open tournament also at the Paknaan gym. On March 3, they will hold an exclusive tournament for lady players. The sponsors are Barangay Captain Malaquias Soco and councilors Willy Semblante, Jonathan Dechos, Dulce Jumao-as, Francis Bongo, Danny Andaya Jenjen Cortes and Carlito delos Santos.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pestaño: Basketball players who excel in chess

Thursday, February 7, 2013

SOME of the most awaited events in sports aside from the Olympics are the Super Bowl of the NFL, the major events in tennis and golf, championship boxing matches and the NBA All-Star game.
The NBA All-Star Game is an exhibition game matching the league’s star players from the Eastern Conference against their counterparts from the Western Conference.
The starting lineup for each squad are selected by fans, while the reserves are chosen through a vote among the head coaches. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.
The 2013 NBA All-Star will be played on Feb. 17 in Houston, Texas, which is also the home of the Houston Rockets. This game will be the 62nd edition and the Eastern Conference All-Stars lead the all-time series 36–25.
This article features NBA basketball players who excel also in chess.
Kobe Bryant was quoted as saying “These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess.” His favorite opening is the Budapest gambit.
A 2009 basketball ad showed Kobe Bryant playing chess with LeBron James.
Basketball great Wilt Chamberlain played chess. He once phoned Bobby Fischer to come over his house to have dinner and play chess, but Bobby declined the invitation because there would be other people there. There are several photos of Wilt playing chess during his college days. Known for his relentless pursuit of women,he claims to have bedded 10,000.
NBA center David Robinson is a chess player. He played chess at the Naval Academy where he graduated, before going to the San Antonio Spurs.
Both Amare Stoudemire and Danny Ainge once said, “I’m always playing chess on the basketball court.”
Larry Bird’s favorite opening is f4, which is known as the Bird’s opening. It is not named after him, of course, but after a 19th century English master, Henry Bird.
“Basketball is like a really fast-paced game of chess, where every move has its benefits and repercussions,” Bill Walton said.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was reading a book called Chess Tactics For Champions while at the Bonnaroo music festival
There is a famous basketball player in Israel, Oded Katash, who plays a lot of chess at the Internet Chess Club. He was formerly a European champion and European Player of the Year, and was drafted by the NY Knicks. But he got injured and had to stop playing ball for a while.
Bill Cartwright taught himself while on road trips with the University of San Francisco. His teammates could rarely challenge him, so he relied on opposition from a computer.
“I like to play chess out there,” Bosh said. “It’s all about the setup for the next thing. I’m always thinking 18 moves ahead. Chess is still one on one. You’re thinking three and four moves ahead and considering all the possibilities. If a guy beats me one time, I’ll challenge him to do it again. He won’t beat me twice.”
“We have a mini-tournament in our locker room most of the time,” says Mark Madsen of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Among his colleagues who play chess are Latrell Sprewell and Gary Trent.
The wife of one of his friends taught Larry Johnson, formerly of the NY Knicks, how to play chess and he was hooked. He played often with his teammate Allan Houston.
Other basketball players who play chess are Dick Barnett, Maurice Carter, Jason Forte, Elvin Hayes, Magic Johnson, Steve Smith, Jason Williams and Jay Williams.,