Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pestaño: The first female national master of Cebu

Thursday, July 31, 2014

SUSAN Itaas is the first and only Woman National Master of Cebu. She achieved the title at the age of 17 in 1980. She was a member of the Philippine team in three Olympiads---Manila 1992, Moscow 1994 and Yerevan 1996.
She presently resides in New York but works in Bergenfield, New Jersey as an accountant in a law firm and an RN staffing company based in Las Vegas.
Susan had great promise as a chess player while still young and Cebu patrons who helped and trained her were Bojie Lim, Kelly Uy, Darcy Tabotabo and National Masters Ben Macapaz, Roger Abella and Lingky Yap.
When I arrived in Cebu in 1990, I sponsored an Inter-Professionals team tournament with the late NM Ben Macapaz, who was my classmate in high school, as tournament director and arbiter.
There were two lawyer teams, headed by Alex Tolentino and Babes Andales (presently councilor of Cebu City), a CPA team led by Susan Itaas, two mechanical engineers team of Loy Minoza and my brother Danny, chemical engineers (myself) and three other teams.
This was the first and only such tournament in the Philippines composed entirely of members of the same professions.
She played together with Lulu Sevillano (younger sis of GM “Econg”) and Lace Puno in the 1991 Women National Chess tournament in Indang, Cavite. She thought she got the Woman National Master then but unknown to her, she got the title much earlier in 1980.
This is according to coach Mariano of UE, who is the uncle of perennial women champion WIM Christine Rose Mariano and GM Nelson Mariano II.
The PCF Guys did Susan a great disservice as they did not inform her and gave the slot of the Malta Chess Olympiad to somebody else.
I remembered that in preparation to the Manila Olympiad, the chosen players, including Susan, trained for quite some time in Baguio complete with a dietician and a physical fitness trainer (Raffy Uytiepo?).
She performed well in the Moscow Olympiad with a score of 8.5 points and the players were aptly rewarded with a bonus of $100 for a win and $50 for draw by PSC chairman Cecil Hechanova . They say that Susan should have been awarded a WFM title but it was overlooked.
She also trained WNM Rachelle Pascua, her roommate who won the bronze medal in the Yerevan Olympiad, so she is also a good coach and teacher.
Susan is sponsoring two tournaments this month--the Cepca August Monthly tournament and WNM Susan Itaas online chess challenge.
The format of the online tournament is seven rounds Swiss, with two minutes “bullet” time control.
Rounds 1 to 4 start at the latest at 5 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 16 and Rounds 5 to 7 will be on Aug. 17 6 p.m. to 8 pm. Venue is Pinoy Chess Club Online, main hall.
There will be three more online tournaments after this and players should play a minimum of three rounds so they will not be banned in the next tournaments. The facilitator/arbiter is Noel Morales.
Prizes are P2,000 and P1,000 for the top two and P800, P700, and P600 for the third to fifth players. The top lady, junior, kiddie and senior get P500 each and the top unrated player also gets P500.
Our August Cepca tournament will be played early on Aug. 10 at the second floor of Handuraw Gorordo to celebrate the birthday of Susan, which is on Aug. 11. She is also now a member of Cepca.
The prizes are now double our usual rate at P7,000. The top three players will get P2,000, P1,500 and P1,000.
This tournament will also be unique as we are inviting the top six lady varsity players of Cebu. In addition to the main prizes, the top three lady players will get P500, P300 and P200. They will also not be required to pay the usual P200 registration

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pestaño: How the Olympiad almost got cancelled

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE other week, the organizing committee of the Tromso Olympiad sent an official letter to the World Chess Federation excluding the Russian Women team and several other teams from the Olympiad because they had missed the June 1 registration deadline.
Other countries that were to be excluded were Cambodia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Côte d’Ivoire, Oman, Pakistan, Senegal for the men. The other women’s team, aside from Russia, was Afghanistan .The Russian women’s team is the defending champion.
This drew sharp reactions from Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and other countries.
It seems that politics is rearing its ugly head again as most of these countries support Kirsan against Garry Kasparov. The coming elections is very bitter, bordering on animosity.
Chessmoso is for Kirsan. Why fix it when it ain’t broken?
Kirsan said that the Russian Chess Federation had informed the Organizing Committee long before June 1. The only reason that Russia could not register its women team was that it was waiting for Fide’s decision on the Kateryna Lagno case, which was only finalized on July 12.
Women’s world rapid champion Kateryna changed federation from Ukraine and will play Board 1 for Russia.
Kirsan issued an ultimatum that by Monday, July 21, the Organizing Committee should confirm to Fide in a written statement that no country will be excluded from the Olympiad without its approval.
Fortunately, the other day, the organizers agreed to reconsider its decision to ban the Russian team as well as nine others.
“Nobody wins if the conflict continues,” Boerge Robertsen, director of the Norwegian organising committee, told local television.
I believe the Olympiad, scheduled Aug. 1-15, would have been cancelled by the Fide board had the ban pushed through.
WESLEY UPDATE. Wesley So won the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) tournament last weekend in Bergamo Italy. It was a Category 17 event and one of the strongest tournaments for this year. He raised his live Elo rating to 2750 while climbing to 12th in the world .
The top-seeded So (2744) opted for a draw with Italian Sabino Brunello in the seventh and last round to wind up with 4.5 points, a full point ahead of Georgian Baadur
So defeated second seed Ian Nepomniachtchi ( 2730) of Russia in the second round, Daniele Vocaturo in the third and Jobava in the sixth for a performance rating of 2844.
Cepca new members. We have two new members—Alex Olis and Regelito Hortelano. Alex is the younger brother of Cepca secretary Jun , while Lito is a cousin of our auditor, Ruel Hortelano.
Alexander C. Olis is from Tanjay and is a B.S. in Agronomy graduate of Silliman University in 1979 . He was salutatorian in high school of East Negros Institute.
He pursued further studies with an M.S. in Agronomy, Soil and Water Engineering, from Asian Institute ofTechnology, Bangkok, Thailand in 1981 and Ph.D., Soil Chemistry, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA in 1989.
Currently, he is an instructor in chemistry at Ridgeview High School, Orange Park, Florida and an adjunct instructor in chemistry at St. John’s River State College, Orange Park, Florida.
He was an environmental consultant for 20 years for the US Navy and the United States Environment Protection Agency.
He is a member of the Bayanihan Chess Club, Jacksonville, Florida and an organizer/mentor for the Chess Club of Ridgeview High School.
Regelito is presently election assistant II of the Commission of Election assigned in Sta Fe, Bantayan Island and is a BS Commerce degree holder of the University of San Carlos.
Lito was champion in the Bantayan Open in 2011.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pestaño: The best female players in history

Thursday, July 17, 2014

WHILE reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway dominates the men’s game, Hou Yifan,19, of China does the same for women. She was recently named the Asian Chess Federation (ACF) “Woman Player of the Year” last week.
Hou is the current women’s world champion, the youngest to win the title and the youngest female player ever to be a grandmaster. She lost her title in 2012 but regained it in 2013. In the most recent (July 2014) Fide rating list, Hou is ranked as the No. 1 girl player in the world, the No. 2 female player (after Judit Polgár) and the No. 9 junior player of either sex.
Experts are saying that she could rival Judit Polgar as the best female player ever.
udit Polgár, 38, is the strongest female chess player in history and plays only with men. In 1991, she achieved the title of grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months. At the time, she was the youngest to have done so of either sex.
As of June 2014, Polgár was ranked 60th in the world with a rating of 2685, the only woman on the top 100 list. She has been ranked as high as No. 8 in 2005 with a rating of 2735.
From June 18 to July 2 this year , Hou played in the fifth stage of Fide women’s grand prix 2013-14 in Lopota, Georgia. She won the event with a 9/11 score, a full two points over her nearest competitors. She had a performance rating of 2773 and this is equivalent to winning a basketball game by 30 points.
The fide women’s grand prix 2013-14 is a series of six tournaments exclusively for women and is part of the qualification cycle for the women’s world chess championship 2015 . Hou also won the fourth stage in Khanty Mansiyk, Russia. The winner of the Grand Prix will challenge the 2014 champion in a 10-game match.
Should the grand prix winner be the 2014 world champion, the runner-up will play for the 2015 championship, which in this case is GM Koneru Humpy of India . Humpy won the second and third grand prix in Armenia and Uzbekistan.
In 2007 Humpy (now 27) surpassed the rating of 2577 set by Susan Polgar (Judit’s elder sister ) to become the second-highest ranked female player in history and the second female player ever, after Judit, to exceed the 2600 Elo mark.
GM Susan Polgar,45, was named the top 2014 chess coach in the world by Fide. Polgar, who is the chess coach at Webster University, was awarded the Furman Symeon medal, which is given annually to the best coach who works with both male and female players.
Polgar was recognized for improving the ranking of Wesley So from No. 95 in the world two years ago to No.15 now. Just recently, Polgar gave a one-on-one training to the top 10 young female chess players in Europe and Asia.
Susan has won four women’s world championships and has earned 10 Olympiad medals.
She was the first female to earn the grandmaster title through tournament play, and is credited with breaking a number of gender barriers, including the first to qualify for the men’s world championship.
There have been prominent lady players who have changed federations lately.
Women’s World Rapid Champion GM Kateryna Lagno,24, has completed the transfer from the Ukrainian to Russian Chess Federation. The process that started back in March was concluded last July 11. The RCF paid the 2,000 Euros transfer fee to Fide and 20,000 Euros compensation to the Ukrainian CF.
GM Anna Muzychuk has returned to Ukraine from Slovenia, saying the chess situation has improved in her native land.
Cepca. Please be reminded that our July handicapping tournament will be this Sunday at the second floor of Handuraw Gorordo starting at 2 p.m.
The prize sponsor for this month is former president Ben Dimaano.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pestaño: Who is the best chess player ever?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

IN ANY sport, choosing the best player of all time is controversial and subject to criticisms.
As an example, in the heavyweight division in boxing, is it Muhammad Ali or Rocky Marciano? In golf, Tiger Woods ,Jack Niklaus and Ben Hogan comes to mind. In tennis, there are many in contention, namely Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg,Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors.
Going further, in team sports we have Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Johan Cruff and Franz Beckenbauer in football and Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson and LeBron James in basketball.
f you ask any chess-playing Tom, Dick and Harry in previous years as to who is the best player of all time, you will get mostly two names--Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov.
I say “mostly” because some experts including grandmasters favor Paul Morphy (Fischer’s choice), Emmanuele Lasker (champion for 27 years ) and Jose Capablanca (most gifted ).
Now, my choice is the phenomenal Magnus Carlsen, the current champion. He has the highest rating in classical (2877), rapid (2855) and blitz (2948) in history.
The main reason why he is my choice is because he is still 23 years old and historically, the peak performance of a chess player is between 30 and 35.
There is no doubt that he will breach the 2900 Elo rating barrier in classical play and that would be roughly equivalent to when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile. He is a complete chess player--brilliant in the opening, middle and unbeatable in endgames.
In my observation, there is no serious threat from the current top players. His most serious challenges will come in the next two to four years from two unlikely sources—China’s 15-year-old sensation Wei Yei and Wesley So!
Here is a word of caution and warning though, in comparing the ratings of players who have not played against each other.
Arpad Elo, who developed the rating system bearing his name and implemented in 1969 was of the opinion that “it was futile to attempt to use ratings to compare players from different eras; they could only measure the strength of a player as compared to his or her contemporaries.”
According to recent estimates, Elo ratings has inflated by 100 points since the time of Fischer and 50 points since Kasparov. Also there was no established rating system during the time of Morphy, Lasker and Capablanca.
Jeff Sonas’ rating system is called “Chessmetrics” and claims to take account of the rating inflation that the Elo system has suffered.
Sonas, like Elo, claims that it is impossible to compare the strength of players from different eras, saying:
“Of course, a rating always indicates the level of dominance of a particular player against contemporary peers; it says nothing about whether the player is stronger/weaker than a player far removed from them in time. So while we cannot say that Fischer in the early 1970s or Capablanca in the early 1920s were the “strongest” players of all time, we can say with a certain amount of confidence that they were the two most dominant players of all time. That is the extent of what these ratings can tell us.”
Cepca. Our July tournament will be on July 20 at the second floor of Handuraw Gorordo at 2 p.m.
In August, we will have several outreach projects. We will sponsor a tournament among inmates of BBRC, subject to approval of the authorities, both for men and a separate tournament for women. We will also be back at Mandaue City jail.
We will also arrange a match against a selection of male varsity players of various schools in Cebu against Cepca.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pestaño: Norway hosts biggest chess tournament

Thursday, July 3, 2014

ONE of the world’s largest sporting event featuring more than 1,600 players from 181 countries will take place in Tromso, Norway on Aug, 1-14. This is the largest Olympiad ever.
Earlier I reported that the organizers had some funding problems and their local media speculated that the event might even be cancelled. Now, the government has promised an additional funding of 15 million Kroner (about $2.5 million) so the show will go on.
An important side event is the Fide elections, where the charismatic former world champion Garry Kasparov will be contesting the presidency against incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
Kirsan has been president since 1995 and has warded off previous challenges. Although this is his biggest challenge ever, he will probably be reelected.
There is some confusion in our men’s and women’s team. It was announced earlier that Wesley So, Julio Catalino Sadorra and Oliver Barbosa have been seeded to the Men`s team and the other three players will be selected after the National open, which ended a few days ago.
The top three winners in the National Open are the legendary Eugene Torre, John Paul Gomez and Paolo Bersamina.
Eugene (62!) will be competing for a record 21st time in the Olympiad, the most by any player worldwide and will probably not be broken. From 1970 to 2010 he played 20 times in the Olympiad, 19 of which were consecutive, breaking the old record of 18 by Heikki Westerinen. His 20 non-consecutive appearances tied the record set by Hungary’s Lajos Portisch .
Gomez is rated No.4 in the Philippines and No. 571 in the world and is only 28 years old while Bersamina is just 16 and is rated 2330. Paolo is also No.1 in the Philippines in the 18-Under bracket, 17th in Asia inthe 16U and 58th in the world 16U.
Sadorra is 28 with a rating of 2600. He is the no.2 pinoy player behind So and 27th in Asia and also no.227 worldwide.
Barbosa is 27 and has rating of 2561. A major highlight was winning the 10th Parsvnath Grandmasters Tournament in New Delhi in 2012, with 9.5/11 and an astounding performance rating of 2710. His live rating went up to 2627. Although seeded, Oliver is unsure of playing as he is reportedly not happy with his monthly allowance of P8,000 from the Philippine Sports Commission and that is understandable.
The case of Wesley so is a sensitive issue. Although, he has been nominated to the top board, he will probably not be playing for the country, which is sad.
I believe there was a misunderstanding as it was earlier reported in media that he was changing his citizenship, which was false. Wesley clarified that he was only changing federations from NCFP to USCF.
Because of this, his monthly allowance of P40,000 was cancelled. Also Pichay is adamant and refuses to officially approve his transfer. This will mean that Wesley must pay NCFP 50,000 euros (about P3 million) or wait for two years.
I have an advice to Wesley. Play for the Philippine team in this Olympiad. It is not too late. It was your original intention anyway. You can then change federation later and will probably be released by Pichay without paying the 50,000 euros. At this stage, it is crucial that you make the right decision. Susan Polgar, please take note!
The women’s players who qualified from the National Open are Janelle Frayna, Catherine Perena, Christy Bernales, Cherry Ann Mejia and Jedara Docena. There is some confusion here as it was earlier reported that Cheradee Camacho (based in the US and the country`s highest rated lady player) and Jan Jodylin Fronda (RP no. 4) were seeded outright. Both did not compete in the National Open.