Friday, November 27, 2015

Pestaño: Bleak future for Philippine chess

IN THE 60s,70s and even up to the 80s, we were the dominant chess playing country in Asia. The late Rodolfo Tan Cardoso was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1957, making him the first Asian IM and he also defeated Bobby Fischer.
We have Eugene Torre, the first Asian grandmaster and considered the strongest player in the 70s and 80s in Asia.
In 1988, the Philipines held its own against the best teams in the world in Greece – the best effort by the Filipinos in the history of the Chess Olympiad besting our 11th place finish in 1974 in Nice, France.
The Filipinos scored 33 points to edge China, Cuba, Argentina and Israel for seventh place behind eventual runaway champion Russia with 40.5 points and England (34.5), Netherlands (34.5), United States (34), Hungary(34) and Yugoslavia (33.5).
In the last Olympiad in Norway in 2014 we placed a disappointing 41st and would have placed 70th if not for the valiant effort by Eugene.That we are still relying on Eugene (age 64) up to this time and Joey Antonio (53) is a testament to the sorry state of chess in this country.
We recently had two international tournaments. The Philippine International Chess Championship from Nov. 9-14 and the PSC Puregold International Open from Nov. 16-24. The results showed why Pinoy players cannot compete with foreign players anymore.
Ukrainian GМ Vitaly Sivuk collected 7/9 points to emerge a solo winner with half point advantage ahead of the nearest followers. The second place was shared in a seven-way tie by GM Anton Demchenko (Russia), GM Anton Shomoev (Russia), GM Boris Savchenko (Russia), GM Abhijeet Gupta (India), GM Chakkravarthy J. Deepan (India), IM Narayanan Sunilduth Lyna (India) and GM Shanglei Lu (China), after the whole group finished the event with 6.5 points.
The best Pinoy player was Rolando Nolte, who only placed 12th. The Elo ratings of the winners are just in the 2500s, showing that these foreigners are just ordinary GMs.
Although Darwin Laylo placed third in the Puregold tournament, he was the only Pinoy in the top10 and one of only three in the top 20. Emmanuel Garcia (18th) and Joey Antonio (20th) were the others. The winner by an amazing 9.5/10 was Russian GM Boris Savchenko 2567, he finished 2.5 2 points better than Lu Shangli and Vitaly Sivuk.
There are no outstanding players among the younger generation. We can only go from bad to worst in international events. The next Olympiad will be in Baku, Azerbaijan next year and more disappointments are coming.
Europe. Aside from the chess Olympiads and the world championship, the next important major tournament is the European team championship primarily because the Europeans dominate the game.
Russia completely dominated the Championships, winning the gold medals in both men’s and women’s events.
In the final round of the men’s section, Russia tied the match against Hungary to complete the race with 15 points and take the winner’s trophy. This is Russia’s first gold in ETCC since 2007.
Two points behind the champions are Armenia, Hungary and France on the shared second place. Armenia won the silver medal via tiebreaker, while Hungary took the bronze.
Among the women, Russia defeated Germany, 3-1, and convincingly took the trophy with 17 points (from 18 possible). The silver medal went to Ukraine on 15 points and the bronze went to Georgia on 14 points.
World champion Magnus Carlsen, playing for Norway, played miserably and lost two games against Yannick Pelletier and Levon Aronian and had a draw with lowly rated Berg Hansen. He lost 18 Elo points in this tournament.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pestaño: The stars of tomorrow will come from India

THE World Youth Chess Championship is a major Fide event and is an annual competition for Boys and Girls 8-Under, 10-Under, 12-Under, 14-Under, 16-Under and 18-Under divisions. Historically, majority of the top players today started their careers in this event.
It was held in Porto Carras, Halkidiki, Greece, from Oct. 24 to Nov. 6 and was one of the most massive Fide events with close to 1,700 participants from over 90 countries. The USA had 194 participants and Russia sent 180. Unfortunately, the Philippines did not participate, which is lamentable.
The players from India dominated the event, winning 11 medals, five of them gold. Russia and USA took four medals each, but none of them was a gold. Iran, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Germany, Greece, Uzbekistan and Vietnam had one gold medal each.
The gold medal winners are Mosadeghpour Masoud (2420) of Iran , WFM Mahalakshmi (2019) of Indeia, Vogel Roven of Germany, WIM Tsolakidou Stavroula (2279) of Greece, Vokhidov Shamsiddin (2336) of Uzbekistan, WFM Vaishali (2314) of India, CM Muradli Mahammad (2121) of Azerbaijan, WFM Salimova Nurgyul (2144) of Bulgaria, FM Praggnanandhaa (2077) of India, Rakshitta Ravi (1516) of India, Bharath Subramaniyam of India and WCM Nguyen Le Cam Hien of Vietnam.
Caruana and Yifan. Fabiano Caruana defeated the favorite Hikaru Nakamura in their showdown at the scholastic Center of St,Louis, 10-8, while In the undercard, Hou Yifan easily wrapped up her annihilation of Parimarjan Negi,11-7, with a dominating performance in random chess.
The exhibition matches includes two games of Basque chess at 90 minutes per game, Four 20-minute Fischer Random (Chess 960) , four 15-minute rapid chess and eight three-minute Blitz Chess matchs.
In Basque chess, players compete on two boards simultaneously with opposite colors, with rolling office chairs gliding them back and forth. The progenitor of the format is the city of San Sebastian in Northeast Spain, which is in Basque country and has held several of these matches in the past.
Chess960 (or Fischer Random Chess) is a variant of chess invented and advocated by Bobby Fischer. It employs the same board and pieces as standard chess; however, the starting position of the pieces on the players’ home ranks is randomized.
In Basque chess, Caruana and Nakamura had a draw, .5-.5, while Negi beat Hou, 2-0. In random chess, Nakamura beat Caruan, 3-2, and Hou beat Negi, 3.5-.5. In rapid chess, Caruana won 3-1, while Hou won, 3.5-.5 and in blitz chess, Caruana won, 4.5-3.5 and Hou won, 4.5-3.5.
Caruana took $60,000, while Nakamura settled for $40,000. Hou got $30,000 and Negi earned $20.000, a big payday for all the players.
Cepca. The November qualifiers in the last weekend tournament at Handuraw are Rogelio Enriquez and Martin Kwan in Group A and Felixberto Balbona and Michael Tinga in Group B.
Enriquez and Kwan will join previous qualifiers Jimmy Ty Jr., Rey Flores, Arnold Cadiz, Peterson Sia, Tony Cabibil, Ross Yamyamin, Amado Olea Jr., Zilverstein Torres, Carlo Maraat, and Jojo Muralla in the Battle of Champions under Group A. In Group B, Tinga and Balbona will compete with Regelito Hortelano, Ruel Hortelano, Elmer Odango, Jojo Paredes, Jun Kidlat, current club president Jerry Maratas, Jessa Balbona, Edwin Cablao, Romy Pialan, and Michael Ventulan.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pestaño: Richard Bitoon wins battle of GMs

SINCE 2008, the National men’s and women’s chess championships has been dubbed the “Battle of the Grandmasters” and feature the top 12 players in both sections in a round robin format.
Thirty-nine-year old GM Richard Bitoon of Medellin, a close friend, emerged with a superior tiebreak over fellow GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio to capture his first title in the 2015 Battle of Grandmasters-National Chess Championships at the Philippine Sports Commission Athletes Dining Hall, RMSC, Vito Cruz, Manila.
The event used the Torre-Pichay scoring system, a method formulated by Torre and National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president and chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr. Under the system, a win is equivalent to two points, a draw is one point, a loss is zero, and a stalemate is 1.5 for the last player to make a move and 0.5 to the player who can no longer make a move.
Here are the final results. Open Division – Richard Bitoon and Joey Antonio (14 points), Haridas Pascua (11), Eugene Torre, Darwin Laylo, John Paul Gomez. Joseph Turqueza (10), Jerad Docena (9), Paolo Bersamina, Koel Abelgas (8), Janelle Frayna (6). Janelle is a woman who chose to compete in the men’s section.
Richard was undefeated in the tournament with wins over Gomez, Bersamina, Abelgas and Frayna and a draw against the rest.
Women’s Division – Fronda (11.5), Perena-Secopito, San Diego (11_, Suede, Enriquez (10), Bernales (8.5), Lozano, Membrere, Mendoza (8), Pineda (4).
Previous winners in the men’s and women’s sections are John Paul Gomez and Catherine Perena in 2008, Wesley So from 2009-2011, Shercila Cua and Rulp Ylem Jose in 2009-2010, Mark Paragua and Catherine Perena in 2012, John Paul Gomez and Janelle Frayna in 2013 and Eugene Torre and again Catherine Perena in 2014.
Although this is the best result of Richard locally, I think his best performance was in 2012.
The “750 Years Melaka International Chess Festival” in Malaysia was held from April 21 to 30 2012 and had three major events – the Florencio Campomanes Memorial International Rapid Chess Championship, the Historical Melaka International Chess Championship and the Historical Melaka Challenger Chess Championship and had total prize of $35,000.
The Florencio Campomanes Memorial was the first event for the Festival and it offered a prize fund of $20,000. Bitoon won first place with 8.5/11 points in the very strong field with 15 Grandmasters and 12 International Masters. Sixth-nine players from 14 countries played.
Poker. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from Nov. 10 to Dec. 22, there will be a P100,000 guaranteed tournament at All-In, Waterfront Hotel. Buy in is P1,000 with a maximum of three rebuys allowed and an add-on after the sixth round. On Dec. 22, a final P300,000 tournament will be played.
Test your skills. If you want bigger pots, Pokerstars has sent me an invitation to play in Manila billed “Megastack 4” starting Dec. 1.It features a series of tournaments for five days with a final P2 million event on Dec. 5 with a buy-in of P10,000.
Side events are P200,000, P250,000, P300,000 and P500,000 guaranteed tournaments.
Cepca. This is a reminder that there will be a board meeting on Saturday at Chikaan in Parkmall, Mandaue to discuss the general membership meeting and election of new officers for 2016 to 17, Christmas party as well as the publication of a Cepca magazine to celebrate our silver anniversary.
Our November tournament will be this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Handuraw Gorordo. This is the last qualifying tourney before the grand finals in December.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Pestaño: Wesley So scores biggest win of career

WESLEY So scored the biggest victory of his career last weekend in a tournament in Bilbao, Spain that is one of the premier events on the world chess calendar.
So won the Bilbao Masters over a former world champion and two other top 10 players. So has won high-level tournaments before, but none with a field this strong.
After quitting school and leaving the Philippines to play for the United States, he suffered a big setback at the Sinquefield tournament the other month where he finished last but has returned to the top 10 with this win. The lessons from the Sinquefield Cup are bearing fruit.
With the win Wesley So now joined the ranks of former Bilbao Chess Masters champions, including the current world champion Magnus Carlsen, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand, former Fide world champion Veselin Topalov and former world No. 2 Levon Aronian.
“It’s really an amazing experience for me competing against the best players in the world, and of course I wasn’t expecting to win before the event,” So said in comments at the closing ceremony.
The Bilbao victory may be So’s most lucrative tournament to date. Tournaments at this level typically offer huge prize funds and guaranteed appearance fees. This year the organizers did not announce the prizes, but in 2008, the champion collected 150,000 euros (about $165,000 in today’s conversion rate).
The 8th Bilbao Masters 2015 took place from Oct. 26 to Nov. 1 and was a double round-robin event featuring four of the world’s best chess players--five time world champion and last-year’s winner, Viswanathan Anand, No. 4 Anish, No. 6, Giri, No. 7 Liren and So.
The so-called Sofia Rule was applied, establishing that only the arbiter will have the power to determine whether a game is drawn or not, thus avoiding pacts between players. On top of this, a scoring system similar to football is used, awarding three points for a win, one for a draw and no points for a defeat. This system is known as the “Bilbao Rule.”.
However, of the 12 games played, there were only two wins! One was by Wesley over Liren and the other win by Giri over Anand. All of the games were fiercely contested.
So and Giri played a two-game playoff to decide the title but Wesley took the lead in the first encounter in an exchange Variation of the Slav Defence. In a sharp second duel Giri could not convert his material advantage and the draw was fixed after a marathon 98 moves. Thus, So was crowned the new champion.
The next stops for Wesley are the 2015 Qatar Masters Open on Dec. 19 to Dec. 29 and the 2016 Tata Steel Chess on Jan. 15-31 in the Netherlands.
The Qatar Open is considered the strongest tournament ever and features 20 GMs rated over 2700, including world champion Magnus Carlsen, Giri, Vladimir Kramnik and World Cup 2015 winner Sergey Karjakin .
The 78th Tata Steel is known as the Wimbledon of chess and has three sections and a long tradition. Starting as an employee tournament in 1937, it has grown into an international tournament, for which grand masters will clear their schedules if invited. With an average rating of 2750 in the A group, this tournament once again has a strong field of participants spiced by the presence of the strongest female player now, Hou Yifan.
The 2016 Tata Steel Group A participants are Magnus Carlsen (2850), Fabiano Caruana (2787), Ding Liren (2781)(, Anish Giri (2778), Wesley So (2767), Sergey Karjakin (2766), Michael Adams (2744), Shakhryar Mamedyarov (2743), Wei Yi (2737), David Navara (2730), Hou Yifan (2683) and Loek van Wely (2632).