Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pestaño: Major chess tournaments in trouble

Thursday, May 29, 2014

THE two biggest tournaments in chess are in trouble.
I am referring to the world championship rematch between former champion Vishy Anand of India and current world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and the World Chess Olympiad this August in Tromso, Norway.
Anand won the Fide 2014 candidates’ match and the right to challenge the Carlsen. The candidates included Levon Aronian, Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov, Dmitry Andreikin, Peter Svidler, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Sergey Karjakin.
Two deadlines have passed and still nobody has come forward to host the world title rematch. The match is scheduled this November 2014, but after the second deadline on April 30, Fide has not received any bids. It’s a disturbing situation and Kasparov blames incumbent president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for his bad image due to his insistence that he was abducted by aliens.
If any of the other seven players had won the 2014 candidates, his government would surely have sponsored the estimated $5 million needed to stage the match. India hosted the 2013 series in Chennai and Anand failed to win a single game in a one-sided series. India has no interest for the rematch.
The other interested party is Norway but it will host the Olympiad and the bad news is that it is desperately short of funds with less than three months to go.
Carlsen’s manager and other chess officials asked the government to back a Carlsen vs.
Anand series in Oslo and estimated a budget of £4 million but they have refused.
I guess there will still be a match somewhere, probably in Khanty-Mansiysk, which hosted the 2012 Olympiad and 2014 candidates matches.
Kirsan also says he will put up his own money if there are no takers.
Anand had nine attempts for the world championship in the last 18 years and experts are confident that he will be better in this rematch.
Here is Anand’s world championship record: 1.) lost the 1995 PCA final vs. Kasparov, 2.) lost the 1998 Fide KO final vs. Karpov, 3.) won the 2000 Fide knockout final vs. Shirov, 4.) won in 2005 vs. Topalov and in 2007 vs. Topalov, 5.) won 2008 match play vs. Kramnik, 6.) won 2010 match play vs. Topalov, 7.) won 2012 match play vs. Gelfand, and 8.) lost 2013 match play vs. Carlsen.
OLYMPIAD. The Chess Olympiad is having serious budget problems. They still lack some 15 million kroner (1.8 million euros) and according to Norwegian media, the event might be cancelled.
“We are with our backs against the wall,” says Joran Aulin-Jansson, the president of the Norwegian Chess Federation.
In the 2010 Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Norway was given the rights to organize the 2014 Olympiad. However, Norway didn’t know that it also needed to stage the 2013 World Cup.
“Fide made the World Cup an obligatory part of the bidding procedure,” said Jansson.
The other problem is they expected only 140 to 150 nations but now, 181 nations have registered for the Olympiad.
Knut Olav Åmås, the state secretary in the Ministry of Culture, isn’t optimistic about getting extra funding and said, “Once you received state support, you must adapt the event to the amount you have applied for and received.”
Fide has written the Norwegian Chess Federation, “Please confirm to us on behalf of the Organising Committee that there is no chance that the Tromso Chess Olympiad will be cancelled. Federations, delegates and commission members are not going to buy their tickets unless we get such a confirmation. So we need to put an end to all this speculation.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pestaño: Keep your mental health, play chess

Thursday, May 15, 2014

LAST month I wanted to visit a classmate in high school but when I called up, I was informed that he does not know me anymore as he has Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The statistics are alarming and staggering. Worldwide, nearly 46 million people are believed to be living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. By 2030, if breakthroughs are not discovered, we will see an increase to nearly 76 million. By 2050, rates could exceed 135 million.
By 2050, cost of care for Alzheimer’s is projected to balloon from $203 billion in 2013 to $1.2 trillion. Today, caregivers provide an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible degeneration of the brain that causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and other functions that eventually lead to death from complete brain failure.
Recent research indicates that playing chess can reduce the incidence of AD by 75 percent. GM Arnold Denker claims that no grandmaster has ever been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Medical authorities urge seniors to be mentally active and some experts believe that playing chess regularly may be a uniquely positioned activity in inhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms. Denker challenged the chess community to identify an exception to this amazing coincidence.
If dementia care were a country’s economy, it would be the world’s 18th largest, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia. If it were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue.
Wesley So. The Raul Capablanca Memorial has been held annually in Cuba since 1962 in honor of the former world champion (1921 to 1927). Prizes are one of the highest in the world.
The players are Lenier Dominguez (Cuba, winner in 2004, 2008 and 2009), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, winner in 2005-2007 and 2010-2012), Wesley So (Philippines, first participation), Francisco Vallejo (Spain, winner in 2001), Zoltan Almasi (Hungary, winner in 2013) and Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba, winner in 2002). All are rated over 2700.
Wesley is now leading the double-round robin tournament with two wins and three draws after 5 rounds. His live rating is now 2740, just three points off the world’s top 15.. He won over Almasi and Vallejo in the first round robin.
Fide elections. The Philippines has been divided in the on-going battle between former champion Garry Kasparov and incumbent president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for Fide president.
The elections will be held this August during the Olympiad in Norway.
In Ilyumzhinov’s ticket is Abraham Tolentino of the Philippines, who will vie for secretary general against Ignatius Leong of Singapore who is in Kasparov`s ticket..
On the other hand, NCFP president Prospero Pichay has openly endorsed Leong and Kasparov`s candidacy.
It will be a very close elections as Kasparov has been traveling all over the world for over a year now. Kirsan who is seeking his sixth terms since 1995, has secured nominations from 56 national federations--22 from Africa, 18 from the Americas, nine from Asia and seven from Europe.
Kasparov has been endorsed by Africa (5), Europe (5), Americas (2) and Asia (8) including that of Pichay, who had committed the Philippine vote to Kasparov when he was in Manila last November.
Kasparov wants Pichay’s to be president of the Asian Chess Federation to replace current head, Sheikh Sultan Bing Khalifa Al Nahayan of the United Arab Emirates, who is supporting Kirsan.
Cepca. Our May tournament will be this Sunday at Handuraw Gorordo starting at 2 p.m.
Come play and enjoy the fun. Format is five rounds Swiss with handicapping of 15 minutes for Class A and 20 minutes for Class B players.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pestaño: Two legends join Hall of fame

Thursday, May 8, 2014

THE selection committee of the Chess Hall of Fame announce two additional nominees to the original 19 last April 23. They are Paul Keres from Estonia and Maia Chiburdanidze of Georgia.
Paul Keres (1916– 1975) was among the world’s top players from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s and author of several books. Chess historians consider Keres, who was dubbed “Paul the second,” as the strongest player never to become world champion.
Along with Victor Korchnoi (who I believe will join this elite group later), he defeated nine undisputed world champions—-more than anyone else in history.
Keres won both AVRO 1938 ( by tiebreak) and the 1963 Piatigorsky Cup, two of the strongest tournaments ever held. He also played on the gold medal winning teams of the Soviet Union in the 1952 – 1964 Chess Olympiads.
He was so popular in Estonia that his picture is in the currency of that country--the 5 Krooni bill (5 EEK).To my knowledge, he is the only chess player to have such honor.
Maia Chiburdanidze (born Jan. 17, 1961) of Georgia is the seventh (and then the youngest) women’s world champion at age 16.
She was only the second woman to earn the title of Grandmaster in 1984. She was a member of the Soviet and later Georgian women’s teams that dominated the women’s chess Olympiads through the 1980s and 1990s, winning nine team gold medals and four gold medals in Board 1.
Several postage stamps have even been designed in her country to celebrate her chess achievements. Mongolia issued a commemorative stamp in 1986 in her honor.
Wesley So. The Capablanca Memorial, which has been held annualy in Cuba since 1992 in honor of the former world champion from 1921 to 1927, started yesterday. It is one of best paid tournament in the world.
This chess festival will be played in three groups: The Elite Group is once again a six-player double round robin, the strongest in the history of the event. The players are Lenier Dominguez (Cuba, winner in 2004, 2008 and 2009), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, winner in 2005-2007 and 2010-2012), Wesley So (Philippines, first participation), Francisco Vallejo (Spain, winner in 2001), Zoltan Almasi (Hungary, winner in 2013) and Lazaro Bruzon (Cuba, winner in 2002). All are rated over 2700.
The Premier Group will be a 10-player round robin with other top Cuban players and from other countries (8 GMs and 2 IMs). The Open A Group will be played over 10 rounds of Swiss system with about 100 participants. This section is open to the players with international titles and those rated above 2300, youth champions and the qualifiers from last year’s Open B division.
FANTASTIC TOWN. Khanty Mansiyk is an oil boom town in Russia. Despite its small population (80,000) it is considered the chess capital of the world. Consider this: the city built the Ugra Chess Academy, which has been the venue of the 2010 Chess Olympiad and the Women’s World Chess Championship 2012. In 2010, the Olympic Hotel was built just to house the players in the Olympiad. It also hosted the 2005 Chess World Cup, the 2007 Chess World Cup, the 2009 Chess World Cup and the 2011 Chess World Cup.
It hosted the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in 2013 .
The 2014 Women Blitz Championship ( won Anna Muzychuk) concludes a row of official events that lasted nearly two months in Khanty-Mansiysk! It all started early March with the Fide Candidates tournament (won by Vishy Anand), followed by the Fide Women Grand Prix ( won by Hou Yifan) and the Fide women’s rapid championship (Kateryna Lahno).
It’s a fantastic chess-loving town!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Pestaño: A virtual fest—4 major tournaments

Friday, May 3, 2013

THERE were three major tournaments going on almost simultaneously these past weeks and a fourth is just around the corner. It has been a virtual feast, watching the games live on the Internet.
The Chinese Chess Championships for men and women took place from April 16 to 27 in Xinghua, China, a round robin event among the top 12 players
Wang Yue demonstrated a remarkable fighting spirit by winning six games and drawing three. He won first place, 1.5 points ahead of the field, despite losing in the last round.
Jun Olis’s favorite damsel, former women’s champion Hou Yifan, who played in the men`s section (shades of Judit Polgar), performed credibly, placing fourth with a better tiebreak among five others.
Ding Yixin took first place among the women’s with an 8/11 performance. Half a point behind were Guo Qi and Shen Yang.
Featuring the top players in the world, the third leg of the Grand Prix series in Zug, Switzerland has just concluded with Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria the clear winner.
Although he only needed a draw to get clear first place, he showed his class by defeating Sergey Karjakin with the white pieces in the last round. Hikaru Nakamura finished solo in second place. Fabiano Caruana shared third and fourth places with
Ruslan Ponomariov.
Final Standings: 1.) Veselin Topalov (2771, Bulgaria) 8 points, 2.) Hikaru Nakamura (2767 USA) 6.5, 3.) Ruslan Ponomariov (2733, Ukraine) 6, 4.) Fabiano Caruana (2772, Italy) 6, 5.) Gata Kamsky (2741, USA) 5.5, 6.) Alezander Morozevich (2758, Russia) 5.5, 7.) Sergey Karjakin (2786, Russia) 5, 8.) Anish Giri (2727,Netherlands) 5, 9.) Peter Leko (2744,Hungary) 5, 10.) Teimour Radjabov ( 2793, Azesbaijan) 4.5, 11.) Rustam Kasimdzhanov ( 2709, Uzbekistan) 4.5, 12.) Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2766, Azerbaijan) 4.5.
The top two finishers in the six-leg Grand Prix will earn spots into the 2014 Candidates Tournament, so the stakes are quite high. The London and Tashkent legs were played last year while the fourth to sixth leg will be played in Madrid, Berlin and Paris this year..
The super tournament is dedicated to the memory of the fourth World chess champion Alexander Alekhine and is being played in two of the biggest museums – the Louvre (Paris) and the Russian Museum (Saint-Petersburg).
The tournament was held last April 21-25 in Paris and the last round is being played as I write this.
The Participants are world champion Viswanathan Anand (2783) , his challenger from the 2012 match Boris Gelfand (2739), former world champion Vladimir Kramnik (2801), World Cup winner Peter Svidler (2747) , Levon Aronian (2809), Nikita Vitiugov (2712) , Michael Adams (2727), Ding Liren (2707) , Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2722) and Fressinet Laurent (2706).
The penultimate round (eighth) had only one decisive result. Former leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave fell with the white pieces against Russian Nikita Vitiugov. This result left Boris Gelfand as the sole leader of the event with five points and four players are just a half-point behind--Adams, Aronian, Anand and Vachier-Lagrave.
The 2013 U.S. Championships for men and women is scheduled to be held from May 2 to 13 in the Chess Club of Saint Louis. Although I am not sure, Cebuano GM Econg Sevillano might play in this tournament being the winner,I think, in 2008.
An unusual side event is an exhibition by GM Timur Gareev, formerly of Uzbekistan, who is rated second in this tournament behind Gata Kamsky. He will conduct a 33-board blindfold simultaneous exhibition before the start of the tournament. This is in preparation to break the record with a whopping 64-board blindfold simultaneous exhibition to be held this Dec. 21 in Oahu, Hawaii.
This is the ultimate test in memory, concentration, endurance and skill like no other.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pestaño: A new chess-playing saint

Thursday, May 1, 2014

WE have a new chess-playing saint with the canonization of Pope John Paul II.
Last Sunday’s event was attended by kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers from 90 countries and close to a million pilgrims. Also canonized was Pope John XXIII, the author of the Second Vatican Council.
Other chess playing saints are Teresa of Avila (1515-82), the Patroness of chess players, Thomas of Canterbury (1118-70), Charles Borromeo (1538-84), Francis Xavier (1506-1552), Francis de Sales (1567-1622 ) and Thomas More (1478-1535).
During his reign, John Paul II traveled extensively, visiting over 100 countries, including the Philippines. He also visited Cebu .It was estimated that he traveled an equivalent of three round trips to the moon.
Because of his passion for chess, Fide awarded the title “Grand Commander of the Legion of Grandmasters” to him in 1999.
It is on record that the Vatican ordered a chess computer in 1981 and whether it was played by the Pope is not known. Other popes who played chess were Gregory VI, Innocent III, John Paul I, Leo X and Leo XIII.
What is not generally known is that John Paul II was a composer of chess problems. I have known a lot of chess players and those who compose chess problems are the rarest of all. It requires a lot of creativity, which is not surprising, as he was also a poet.
My puzzle for this week, Problem 313, is composed by him.
Cepca. Rosendo Yamyamin won the April tournament of the club. He is branch manager of Gopel Finance Corp. in Ormoc. He was a varsity player of USJ-R in 1998-2002 and qualified for the Shell Grand Finals in 1997 with Richard Natividad and now NM Merben Roque.
We have three new members--couple Eduard and Therese Gonzales dela Torre and Renie Aureo.
Eduard was a varsity chess player in high school in Don Bosco and team captain of USC in college. He has been working for 10 years in the BPO industry and is currently the team manager of Accenture. He and Therese are also entrepreneurs.
Therese is currently book consultant of Author Solutions Inc. and a former USJ-R varsity chess player. She was the strongest female player in Cebu then and was a national qualifier for the SEA Games in 2005. She has been with the BPO industry for seven years.
They have five children--Chessa, Lea Lin, Nina Sara Mae, Leo and Eduard II. The three eldest are now training to become future masters and champions.
Renie is married to Analyn and has two children. He is a licensed BS ECE graduate from CIT and is a pilot of the Philippine Air Force with the rank of Major. He belongs to the class 99B of the PAF Aviation School and is a member of the PAF flying school class of 2004.
Chess Masters School. The Cebu Chess Masters is an accredited NCFP member and duly registered with the Department of Trade and Industry under the name of Therese Gonzales-Dela Torre. Its purpose is to train young talents to become better players.
Aside from Eduard and Therese, another trainer is National Master Merben Roque, who has an extensive 10-year experience in training players for Milo Checkmate in Manila.
“According to research, Test scores improved by 17.3 percent for students regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.6 percent for children participating in other forms of enriched activities,” said four-time World Champion Susan Polgar.
The beauty of chess as a teaching tool is that it stimulates children’s minds and helps them build these skills while enjoying themselves. As a result, children become more critical thinkers, better problem solvers, and more independent decision makers.
Interested schools can call 366-8966 or visit their address at 372 Royal Crowne Plaza Katipunan St., Labangon Cebu City.