Friday, August 28, 2015

Pestaño: Sinquefield Cup 2015 and scrabble in Cebu

THIS tournament, currently ongoing in the Scholastic Chess Center of St. Louis, is billed by journalists as the strongest tournament in history and has eight of the current top 10 players in the world.
The field has World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen, No. 2 Viswanathan Anand, No. 3 Veselin Topalov , No. 4 Hikaru Nakamura, No. 5 Fabiano Caruana, No. 6 Anish Giri, No. 8 Wesley So, No. 9 Alexander Grischuk, No. 11 Levon Aronian and No. 16 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Everybody wins as the winner gets $75,000 and the last placer gets $15,000. They will also be refunded for their expenses.
The previous record holder as the strongest tournament in history is the same event in 2014, which only had six players in a double-round robin format.
The 2014 tournament will long be remembered by the incredible performance of Fabiano Caruana, who had a 7-0 streak and was considered the greatest performance of all time. The history of chess has seen longer streaks, but never against such highly-rated players
St. Louis has rapidly risen as the chess capital of the world thanks to “tyrannosaurus” Rex Senquefield--a financial wizard and a philanthropist. He founded Dimensional fund advisers, which manages more than $310 billion in assets as of 2013.
Strongest tournament? I have checked the past big tournaments and this is rather controversial. By ratings of the players, this is definitely true, but the ratings have inflated by 100 to 150 points since Elo started in 1970. Before this, there were many big tournaments.
According to statistician Jeff Sonas, the best way to determine strong tournaments is by the presence of the world’s top 10 players.
The top five before were Vienna 1882 (with nine of the world’s top 10), Linares 1993 (Also with nine of the top 10), Nottingham 1936 (with eight of the top 10), Avro 1938 (with 8 of the top 10), and Linares 1992 (also 8 of the top 10).
After three rounds in St. Louis, the leader is Topalov with 2.5 points and is followed by Giri, Aronian and Carlsen with two points each. Wesley has 1.5 with a win against Grischuk and draw with Giri, He lost in the first round to Lagrave. Surprisingly, Caruana and Anand are last with only 0.5.
Scrabble. This distant cousin of chess had a big tournament last Aug. 21 at the City Social Hall. Organized by Marilyn Abella the event attracted about 200 “word-pushers” (my third contribution to the English language. The first was “xylothism” -look for its meaning by Googling it. Another is “Grandmartyrs” or those who died while playing chess. I guess very few have contributed a new word and get recognized).
It was sponsored by the City through the Philippine Sports Commission in coordination with the Department of Education.
Here are the list of winners.
Professional and College Category: Renante Dela Cerna, Jowar Ayuno, Joel Toroy.
High School Category: Emyrose Avise, Julifer Tuba, Russel Sartagoda.
Elementary Category: Jonspeed Eslao, Chairylle Bucao, Anne Rallos.
Renante and I go a long way together. He excels in mind games and aside from being a good chess player, he is also one of the top poker players in Cebu. I hate to tangle with him on a one-on-one basis. He is also a very sharp mahjong player.
He was the national scrabble champion in 2004 and 2008 and was he first-runner-up in 1998 and 2002. He placed fifth in the First International Scrabble tournament in Baguio in 2009.
He plans to play in Thailand in July next year to compete with the world’s best in the Crossword brand International Kings Cup.

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