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.

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