Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pestaño: Chess the musical

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I HAVE always wanted to write about Chess The Musical ever since I read about it some 12 years ago but the time was not right.
Now that it is showing in the West Boca High auditorium in Boca Raton, Florida, up to this weekend, here is a background about this remarkable musical.
The musical is based on the album written by Tim Rice and is composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (both of ABBA). Tim Rice was the lyricist of the smash hits , Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, that were later made into movies.
ABBA was a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1972 and were one of the most commercially successful pop group then.
The story is based on the cold war in the 70s between the US and USSR as seen through an international chess tournament. It is the story of a love triangle between two grandmasters—an American and a Russian—and a woman who serves as a manager to one of the players but falls in love with the other. The American is loosely based on Bobby Fischer and the Russian on both Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi. The background was based on the “Battle of the Century” between Fischer and Spassky in Iceland in 1972.
The show was successfully produced in the West End in 1986, on Broadway in 1988 and London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris and other places. It has some remarkable songs and the album was a worldwide hit, reaching the top 50 in several countries, including top 10 status in the United Kingdom, West Germany and South Africa. It was even the No. 1 album in Sweden for seven weeks.
A single from the album, “One Night in Bangkok”, became a worldwide smash, reaching No. 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The duet “I Know Him So Well” by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson held the No. 1 spot on the UK singles charts for four weeks, winning the Ivor Novello Award. In addition, the tune was later sang by Whitney Houston and her mother Cissy and also by Barbra Streisand, who recorded it originally for Broadway in 1985.
In 1985, music videos were filmed for the songs “One Night in Bangkok”, “Nobody’s Side”, “The Arbiter”, “I Know Him So Well,” and “Pity the child.
Cepca monthly. Our Monthly Chess Qualifying Tourney-March is on Sunday at Handuraw Pizza-Gorordo and will start at 2 p.m. It will be a five-round Swiss System competition with a handicapping time control of 15 minutes for Class A players, 20 minutes for Class B Players.
The prizes are P1,500, P1,000 and P500 for the top three. The champion qualifies to the grand finals this December.
SAC-SMB awardees. Congratulations to the following players who received awards for chess—John Jerish Velarde,Diego Claro, Felix Shaun Balbona , Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano and Elwin Retanal. Cepca also received an award for the third straight year.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pestaño: Philippines vs. China: chess or checkers

Thursday, March 20, 2014

In the current territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, the Philippines is playing checkers, while China is playing chess.
A chess player always tries to analyze several moves in advance, to anticipate the opponent’s moves, and to play for a win.
The stakes are high. Aside from national pride. The area is potentially rich in oil and natural gas deposits- up to 17.7 billion tons of crude oil and natural gas estimated up to 2 quadrillion cubic feet.
In1976, the first Philippine oil company discovered an oil field off Palawan (island within the South China Sea belonging to the Philippines). These oil fields supply 15% of our annual oil consumption.
Fishing opportunities within the region are another reason for the claim. In 1988, the South China Sea is believed to have accounted for more than 8% of world fishing catches.
China has made several bold moves that elicited only modest responses from the
Philippines .
Last Jan. 27, Filipino fishermen were driven away from Scarborough shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc, by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) using water cannons.
On March 9, two civilian vessels contracted by the Philippine Navy to conduct troop rotation and resupply operations in Ayungin were followed, blocked, and then told to leave by Chinese ships.
China also announced that it was increasing its military budget for 2014 to almost $132 billion
The Philippines has two strong moves to avoid being checkmated.
The Philippines must pursue relentlessly its arbitration case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea against China’s maritime claims and most important, cement our alliance with the United States with whom we have a mutual defense agreement. China is wary of these two moves, as it will be a double check.
Candidates Match. The World Chess Candidates tournament started last week in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia and the 5th round has just been played. Format is double round-robin with classical time controls.
The players are Vishy Anand (2770), the loser of the 2013 Championship Match; Vladimir Kramnik (2787) and Dmitry Andreikin (2709), the top two finishers in the World Cup 2013; Veselin Topalov (2785) and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2757), the top two finishers in the Fide Grand Prix 2012–13; Levon Aronian (2830) and Sergey Karjakin (2766), the next two highest rated players; and Peter Svidler (2758), who got the organizing committee’s wild card. Wildcards must have at least a Fide rating of 2725 as of March.
The prize fund is 420,000 Euros, with 95,000 Euros going to the winner. There will be strict anti-cheating rules and players cannot agree to a draw before black’s 30th move.
The winner of the candidates match will have the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in a world title match in November. Carlsen defeated Anand in the Chennai World Championship match last November 2013.
This tournament is being followed by millions worldwide in anticipation of perhaps a new guard emerging. All are capable of winning and the matches are hotly-contested.
Although the favorites are Aronian and Kramnik, Anand is clearly making a statement in the early stages of this tournament. He had been World Champion since 2007 in Mexico City. He defended his crown against Kramnik (Bonn, 2008),Topalov (Sofia, 2010) and Boris Gelfand of Israel (Moscow, 2012).
Here are the scores after the fifth round: Anand (3.5), Aronian, Kramnik, Svidler (3.0), Topalov, Karjakin, Mamedyarov (2.0), Andreikin (1.5).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pestaño: Are female chess players weaker?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

MARCH is International Women Month and here are some comments about women chess.
“They’re all weak, all women. They’re stupid compared to men. They shouldn’t play chess, you know. They’re like beginners. They lose every single game against a man.
There isn’t a woman player in the world I can’t give knight-odds to and still beat.”—Bobby Fischer.
Is Fischer right and do the statistics confirm this?
There are 1,389 grandmasters in the world but only 27 (about two percent) are women.
Furthermore, there are only three women in the top 300 and only one (Judit Polgar) in the top 100.
Going further, there are more than 3,200 International Masters but only 77 are women and out of more than 5,400 Fide Masters less than 250 are female.
Locally, Cepca only had two lady players out of more than 100. Even in the Internet, where I play every day, I seldom encounter women although those who I meet are good players.
Chess does not involved strength or a bigger frame but why is there such a discrepancy?
The question as to whether men are innately better at chess than women is controversial. At least this idea is widespread and generally acceptable It seems to be biological. Men and women are different in the way they think. Male dominance at chess is often cited as an example of innate male intellectual superiority. I don’t think men having bigger heads is really going to make that much of a difference
Aside from external anatomical and sexual differences, scientists know also that “there are many other subtle differences in the way the brains from men and women process language, information, emotion, cognition, etc.”
This is the reason why airplane pilots, race car drivers, engineers and architects are predominantly male.
On the other hand, “Women are better than men in human relations, recognizing emotional overtones in others and in language, emotional and artistic expressiveness, esthetic appreciation, verbal language and carrying out detailed and pre-planned tasks. For example, women generally can recall lists of words or paragraphs of text better than men.”
Also in other sports like poker, darts and billiards, women cannot compete with men in the top level although these sports do not require superior strength.
The primary reason cited by many as to why women are weak compared to men is because there are only about seven percent women chess players of the total players worldwide estimated at 700 million. Traditionally in modern times, chess is considered a “men’s game” and women are discouraged from playing seriously by their parents.
Another reason is financial. Aside from the top 100 or maybe 200, professional chess players do not have a decent life compared to other sports and women earn even less.
Ruelan Memorial. The 3rd Marcelo “Loloy” Ruelan Memorial Open Chess Tournament will be held tomorrow and Sunday at the Deep Blue “D” Woodpusher Chess Club at the second floor SM City. This is organized in cooperation with the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Assoc (Cepca). Registration fee is P200.
The champion will win P5,000, while the second to fourth placers will snare P3,000, P1,000 and P500, respectively.
The sponsors are Dr. Darcy Tabotabo, Hon. Wilfredo Diamante (ABC President), Andrew Aznar, lawyers Jongjong Melendez, Ben Harayo and Jose Mariano Tan and Engr. Ethi Dominguito.
I remember Loloy as a master who had a lifetime passion and commitment to chess. He also had a sense of humor and unique ideas about life in general and was a wide reader who wrote a chess column in Sun.Star Weekend.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A farewell to a close friend

Friday, March 7, 2014

TO HAVE a good friend is one of the highest delights in life; to be a good friend is one of the noblest and most difficult undertakings.”—Anonymous.
Although we met much later in our lives (I arrived in Cebu in 1990), I consider Art my best friend. Since we met at the chess club in 1990 located at corner Pelaez and Sanciangco Sts., we were inseparable until the time he got seriously sick about four years ago and passed away recently.
Together with the late Sonny Sollano, we clicked because we had a passion—chess mixed with ice-cooled beer over intelligent conversations.
Art was my co-founder of Cepca (Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association Inc.) in 1990 and our first recruits were Sonny, Alex Tolentino, my brother Danny, Loy Minoza, Gerry Tomakin and Nicnic Climaco. We also invited Boojie Lim and Bombi Aznar as honorary members.
For our first project, we decided to do go out with a big bang. The Inter-Zonals were then held in Manila and with the help of the Cebu Lakandula Lions Club, we invited GMs Eugene Torre, Jaime Sunye-Netto of Brazil, then IMs Walter Arencibia of Cuba and Carlos Suarez of Guatemala to play simuls together at Baseline.
It was fiesta time among chess players in Cebu then and it established Cepca as an outstanding club.
I was never afraid to venture into big undertakings as I had full confidence in our members and after two terms as president we reached over 100 members.
As president, I gave recognition to Art as the most outstanding member during my terms.
A testament to the longevity of Cepca is that Sonny, Danny, Loy, Gerry and Bombi are also now playing in the afterlife.
Other big projects were the First Grandmaster Tournament in Cebu (1992) with the help of the Cebu Inter-family Youth Association (Cifya) whose founder is Henry Uy Hehiong and whose chess activities were coordinated by Kelly Uy (honorary member), the Cebu Chess Federation of Boojie Lim and the late Fide president Florencio Campomanes.
The GMs invited were Dibyendu Barua of India, Niaz Murshed of Bangladesh, Ye Rongguang of China and Ian Rogers of Australia. The local players were Joey Antonio, Ruben Rodriguez and Banjo Barcenilla, who are now GMs except Ruben who passed away.
This was an opportunity not to be missed as the Chess Olympiad was just recently held in Manila.
We also participated in the 1992 Sinulog and to my knowledge we are the only organization to enter in three categories—free interpretation of the Sinulog beat with 32 dancers dressed as chess players while playing the Budapest Gambit, we also had a float with Bombi Aznar as King and Darcy Tabotabo (an honorary member) and Loy Miñoza as bishops and 16 lovely ladies as pawns and we also had two higantes, representing Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.
Art and Danny were the prime movers in our participation, which took more than a month to realize.
Art Llanos Ynclino was a retired employee of Acoje Mining and is married to Lucia Rivera, a retired teacher, who had served the teaching profession for almost 42 years.
Alice, the eldest, is a BSBA and is now retired and married to Vicente Atega who works with PAL. Ma. Isabel is a CPA and is married to Roberto Varquez an Engineer. Bal is a BSEE,MBA and MPA and is married to Cherry Racaza. Jerry Jesus Ynclino is deceased.
Helena is into the antique business and her better half Engracio Bucao works with the Cebu Port Authority. Carmelita, the youngest, is a CPA-Lawyer with a masters degree in business administration and works with Land Bank Makati, Main Office.
The grand children are Keith Jeremy, April Marie, Mark Jan, Chad Paolo, Charmaine and the famous swimmer Andrei Josef Ynclino.