Friday, July 8, 2016

Pestaño: Prelude to the world championship

THE Bilbao Chess Grand Slam Masters Final 2016 will be held on July 13 to 20, a week earlier than usual to assure the participation of the world’s current best players, especially the world champion , Magnus Carlsen.
The tournament is a double round robin featuring six players. The tournament regulations use the Sofia Chess Rules, which forbids agreed draws before 30 moves, and the “Bilbao” scoring system of 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss (though for ratings purposes, the traditional scoring method is used). A soundproofed and air-conditioned glass “cube” was constructed in Bilbao, Spain to house the tournament, allowing spectators to watch closely the players inside.
Aside from Carlsen, Wesley So, Sergey Karjakin, Anish Giri and Hikaru Nakamura have been invited by the organizers. The surprise sixth player is 16-year-old Chinese teenager, Wei Yei, though still far from the most select elite, he is considered by highly renowned chess specialists as the strongest candidate in the near future to dispute and even seize the world title from Magnus Carlsen.
Carlsen, in turn, is planning to become the best chess player in history.
It will be a major accomplishment though by Wei Yei if he does not finish in the cellar.
This tournament is unique because in November this year Carlsen and Karjakin will play for the World Championship in New York. So Bilbao can be considered a prelude to their encounter for the world championship as they will play two times. Thanks to this world exclusive encounter, Bilbao and its Grand Slam Masters Final is one of the top events in this year’s international chess calendar, along with the individual World Championship, the Olympiad in Baku and the Grand Chess Tour.
Wesley is the defending champion in this event and it will be interesting and exciting if he can repeat his performance last year.
Chess Olympiad. According to Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov everything has been ready and the Baku  Olympiad can be held right now. Ilyumzhinov said that the competition, which will be held on Sept. 1-14, will make history for the number of participating countries.
“Currently, a record number of applications have been received. I believe that all 178 countries will participate in the Olympiad. So, it will be second biggest competition after the Summer Olympic Games.”
Will Armenia participate? They are considered one of the contenders for the championship.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an ethnic conflict between the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan over the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, a region in Azerbaijan populated primarily by ethnic Armenians. The present conflict began in 1988 and escalated into a full-scale war in the early 1990s. Tensions and border skirmishes have continued in the region despite an official cease-fire signed in 1994.
The Philippines has just finished the 2016 Battle of GMs to determine its lineup both for men and women . Rogelio Antonio, Jayson  Gonzales and Paolo Bersamina booked their tickets after finishing 1-2-3 in the elimination. They will be joined by the country’s highest rated player, who is presently based in the USA, Julio Catalino Sadorra. Eugene Torre will probably be the fifth player and maybe also the team captain of both men’s and women’s teams.
In the women’s division, Janelle Mae Frayna,  Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Christy Lamiel Bernales earned their slots. Among those being considered for the final two berths  are  Bernadette Galas, Mikee   Suede  and  Catherine Perena-Secopito.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Pestaño: Chess computers better than humans

A LONG time ago I had a dinner date with GMs Eugene Torre and Jaime Sunye–Neto of Brazil. Eugene then was still considered the best player in Asia and Jaime was a mainstay on the Brazilian chess Olympiad team, and was at that time President of the Brazilian Chess Federation.
Jaime was one of the most influential persons in chess then and later ran for president in 1996. He assembled a powerful team and won the support of almost all of the chess-playing countries of Europe. Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov exerted a lot of influence and pressure on the delegates especially from the Latin-American and African federations with the help of Singapore`s Ignatius Leong who held a lot of proxies. Jaime lost by 87 votes to 44.
As I recall, our main topic of discussion was chess in general all over the world ,Garry Kasparov and the increasing popularity of chess computers.
Going back, I was introduced to chess computers in the early 1980s while playing regularly at the Luneta on weekends and the earlier versions were easily beaten. However, sometime in the mid-80s a foreigner brought a portable chess computer to Luneta that was a revelation at that time. He challenged all the strong chess players then to play against the machine with a bet and won most of them.
In the 1982 North American Computer Chess Championship, Monroe Newborn predicted that a chess program could become world champion within five years; tournament director and International Master Michael Valvo predicted 10 years;  Ken Thompson predicted it would take more than 20; and others predicted that it would never happen.
During our discussion, Eugene had the opinion that a computer will never be able to defeat the world champion, while Jaime said it will happen much sooner than later probably within a decade.
Garry Kasparov, in a 1996 match with IBM’s Deep Blue, lost his first game at tournament time controls in Deep Blue vs. Kasparov, 1996, Game 1. This game was, in fact, the first time a reigning world champion had lost to a computer using regular time controls. However, Kasparov regrouped to win three and draw two of the remaining five games of the match, for a convincing victory.
Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded to calculate up to 200 million positions per second , and played Kasparov again in May 1997. Deep Blue won Game six, therefore winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½ and becoming the first computer system to defeat a reigning world champion in a match under standard chess tournament time controls. Kasparov accused IBM of cheating and demanded a rematch. IBM refused and retired Deep Blue.
While world champion Magnus Carlsen is rated 2835, chess computers are now rated well over 3000. The top five are: 1.) Komodo (3340), the leading commercial program, was the undisputed champ of 2014 before being briefly eclipsed by the new version of Stockfish this year. Its developers then released Komodo 9, which is about 50 rating points better than its predecessor.
2. Stockfish (3318) and Komodo are easily the two strongest in chess history. The best thing about Stockfish is that it is completely free, open source, and cross-platform.3. Houdini (3277), a commercial engine, used to be the strongest in the world, and remains a very formidable chess program.
4. Fire ( 3229) In development since 2010 is another fast-riser in the world of computer chess. It gained 16 rating points in the CCRL pure list compared to its normal database rating, the most of any engine in the top 15.
5. Gull (3214)is the fifth-ranked of the world’s best chess programs.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pestaño: Chess memorial tournaments

MEMORIAL tournaments are more common in chess unlike other sports. Almost every country has one and there are probably close to 100 worldwide. Here in Cebu, we have two—the Roger Abella and Loloy Ruelan memorial tournaments.
I am featuring only the major ones which have bigger prizes and attract mostly the international top players.
The Capablanca Memorial has been held annually in Cuba since 1962. José Raúl Capablanca (1888–1942) was a famous Cuban chess master who was World Champion from 1921 to 1927. The Capablanca Memorial became at that time the best paid tournament in the world.  Since 1974 B and C tournaments have been held. The champion of the 2016 edition, which concluded the other day, s Vassily Ivanchuk .
The Rubinstein Memorial is held in Polanica-Zdrój, Poland in honor of the chess legend Akiba Rubinstein, who died in 1961 and the tournament had its first edition in 1963. The main tournament is usually a closed round-robin tournament, while the other side events are open Swiss system tournaments.
The Carl Schlechter Memorial Tournament  is a competition initiated to honor the memory of the leading Austrian chess master Carl Schlechter (1874–1918), who died as a result of injuries suffered in the immediate aftermath of World War I.
The Torre Memorial commemorates Carlos Torre Repetto (1905–1978) and is played in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. The first edition was played in 1987, and from a relatively weak tournament, it has now grown into a strong international tournament.
The Chigorin Memorial is held in honor of Mikhail Chigorin (1850–1908), founder of the Soviet Chess School and one of the leading players of his day. The first and most important edition was the one played in 1909 in St. Petersburg. Later on, the tournament was played in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. From 1993, the venue for the tournament returned to his hometown.
The Leopold Trebitsch Memorial Tournament was organized by the family of Austrian silk manufacturer Leopold Trebitsch. Twenty tournaments were played inVienna between 1907 and 1938. Leopold Trebitsch’s son, Oskar, made more funds available, enabling 11 additional competitions to be held until 1938, when Germany’s annexation of Austria ended the event.
The Max Euwe Memorial Tournament was played mainly in Amsterdam. The last edition of the memorial was held in 1996. It ended because the main sponsor Verenigde Spaarbank (VSB) lost interest.
The Paul Keres Memorial Tournament is played in honour of chess grandmaster Paul Keres (1916–1975) and usually takes place in Vancouver, Canada and Tallinn, Estonia. It is an annual international chess tournament that has been held in Tallinn every other year since 1969. Since 1999, this tournament also had a women’s section.
The Milan Vidmar Memorial commemorates Milan Vidmar (1885–1962), a leading Slovenian grandmaster. The first Vidmar Memorial was held in June 1969 in Ljubljana. In subsequent years, the tournament has been held in several different Slovenian cities.
LEUVEN TOUR. Magnus Carlsen was totally dominant in the Leuven Grand Chess Tour last June 17-20. The World Champion won the rapid part and easily overwhelmed the opposition in the blitz part, securing the title a couple of rounds in advance.
The race to second place was between Wesley So and the Armenian Levon Aronian. So’s “don’t lose any games” strategy seemed to pay off, as he bested the Armenian by half a point, collecting 10 grand chess tour points and $30,000.
So is now tied for the lead with Hikaru Nakamura in the Grand Chess Tour standings as Carlsen will not be playing in the St.Louis and London legs.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pestaño: Accolades for Victor Korchnoi in memoriam

LAST June 6,Victor Korchnoi--born in Leningrad, Soviet Union on March 23, 1931--died at 85. He is considered the strongest player never to have become world champion.
Korchnoi was a candidate for the world championship on 10 occasions (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991). He was also a four-time USSR champion, a five-time member of the Soviet team that won the European championship, and a six-time member of Soviet teams that won the Chess Olympiad.
He was at the very top of world chess for 30 years, winning games against all the world champions from Botvinnik and Fischer, to Kasparov and Carlsen. In 1965 he was rated no.1.
However, he became convinced he had to leave the Soviet Union after being banned from playing internationally.
In 1976 Korchnoi sought political asylum in the Netherlands; he later became a citizen of Switzerland. Korchnoi’s wife and son were refused exit visas until the mid-1980s, and his son was jailed shortly before the 1981 match with Karpov after attempting to emigrate.
In terms of chess longevity, he has few rivals. In January 2007, at 75, he was ranked No. 85 in the world — by far the oldest person to be ranked in the top 100 and taught a lesson to the rising star Fabiano Caruana at age 79. He was a winner of more than 220 tournaments, matches and team events.
He is famous for the quote “No chess grandmaster is normal; they only differ in the extent of their madness.”
The world championship match of 1978 against Anatoly Karpov was held in Baguio and I went there for a few days. There was enormous controversy off the board, ranging from the X-raying of chairs, protests about the flags used on the board, hypnotism complaints and the mirror glasses used by Korchnoi. When Karpov’s team sent him a bilberry yogurt during a game without any request for one by Karpov, the Korchnoi team protested, claiming it could be some kind of code.
Before the title match, Korchnoi indicated that if he could not play under the Swiss flag, he wanted a white flag marked “Stateless.” FIDE indicated that this would not violate any law. The Soviets also objected to the Swiss flag, but agreed to a white flag marked “Stateless.”
Korchnoi wore mirror sunglasses during the match. In an earlier match he had been bothered by Karpov’s habit of staring at his opponent, so in Baguio he wore the glasses to hide his eyes. Karpov also refused to shake with him -- ‘Never! Never will I shake hands with you!”
The winner was the first player to win six games, draws not counting. Karpov won the the match 6–5 with 21 draws.
Wesley So finished fourth overall in the prestigious 2016 Paris Grand Chess Tour rapid and blitz competition. He had a combined score of 19.5 points behind champion Hikaru Nakamura of US (25.5), runner-up Magnus Carlen of Norway (24.5) and third placer Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France (22). Nakamura bagged the $37,500 top purse; Carlsen got $30,000, while Vachier-Lagrave and So settled for $15,000 consolation prize.
In rapid, So had three wins and five draws with wins against against Carlsen in the first round, against Aronian in the fourth round and against Fressinet in the ninth round.
He posted three wins and 11 draws in the double-round robin blitz competition.He defeated Giri in the 11th round; Caruana in 12th and Kramnik in 18th then drew with Carlsen (first), Giri (second), Topalov (fourth and 13th), Vachier-Lagrave (fifth and 14th), Fressinet (sixth and 15th) and Aronian (seventh and 16th).

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pestaño: Grand chess tour and Gashimov memorial Thursday, June 09, 2016

THE Grand Chess Tour is a series of four events where players earn grand tour points in accordance with their final rank in each event. At the conclusion of the tour, the top two players based on the standings shall be awarded tour prizes worth $1 million.
Nine of the current top 10  grandmasters will compete in the Tour, since Magnus Carlsen will only participate in the two blitz and rapid events in Paris and Leuven.
“It’s great news that the grand chess tour have expanded with two new tournaments in Paris and Brussels,” said Carlsen. “I’m looking forward to playing both. Unfortunately, due to a very busy schedule, I won’t be able to play in Saint Louis or London this year. Hopefully I will get a new chance to fight for the GCT title again next year.”
It’s understandable that he is not playing in the classical events as he is scheduled to play Sergey Karjakin, who is also not playing in the tour, in the World championship in New York in November. They will be observing each other moves as part of their preparation.
Like last year, the 10th player will be added as a wildcard each time. For the Sinquefield Cup in St Louis, that would be world No. 9 Ding Liren of China; the London Chess Classic hasn’t chosen a player yet.
The first leg is set to take place from June 9-12 at La Maison de la Chimie in Paris, France. The total prize fund is $150,000.
The Participants are Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Vladimir Kramnik, Hikaru Nakamura, Wesley So, Veselin Topalov, Maxime-Vachier Lagrave, Magnus Carlsen, Laurent Fressinet.
One of the strongest tournaments this year was theThe Vugar Gashimov Memorial held in Shamkir, Azerbaijan from May 26 to June 4, 2016. It was held in memory of the great Vugar Gashimov, who passed away on Jan. 10, 2014.
The tournament featured 10 world-class players: Fabiano Caruana (2795), Anish Giri (2790), Sergey Karjakin (2779), Pavel Eljanov (2750), Pentala Harikrishna (2763), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2750), Teimour Radjabov (2726), Eltaj Safarli (2664), Hou Yifan (2663) and Rauf Mamedov (2650).
Mamedyarv won the biggest strongest tournament of his career by defeating Giri in a superb rook endgame he played to perfection, right after beating Caruana in the previous round. In the playoff, he defeated Caruana and snatched the title.
Our lady journalist KC Morala sent in thie report.
“Check and mate: Richard Natividad came out on top in the 4th VMA Power Open Chess Tournament held at Robinsons Galleria Cebu last June 1-2. After overcoming Kim Yap in the last game of the seven-round tournament, Natividad finished with 6.5 points.
Second place Edsel Montoya also fought to a win against Kyle Sevillano and racked 6.5 points. A superior tiebreak output secured the champion trophy for Natividad.
Merben Roque and Ronald Ganzon both posted 6 points and took third and fourth places respectively.
Meanwhile, Airene Robillos claimed the top lady title with 4.5 points.
Battle of the brains: Yves Fiel held Richard Natividad to a draw and both finished even with 4.5 points in the 5-round Barangay Kalunasan Open Chess Tournament held at Kalunasan Barangay Hall last June.
Edsel Montoya and Merben Roque shared the third spot with 4 points.
Kyle Sevillano, a 17-year old Far Eastern University student, was the co-champion in a separate Juniors Category after sealing a draw with Ryan Pacres in the last round.Airene Robillos of the USJR Jaguars and USC Warrior Shaira Monsalud shared the top spot for the Ladies category.”

Friday, June 3, 2016

Pestaño: Yifan gives up title due to disagreement with Fide

IT'S rather surprising that despite being in the limelight now for more than a decade, I have not written extensively about Hou Yifan, the current women champion. She is planning to give up her title because of disagreements with Fide.
Hou (born Feb. 27 1994) became the youngest player ever to participate in the FIDE women’s world championship (Yekaterinburg 2006) and the Chess Olympiad (Torino, 2006) at the age of 12.
At 14, she was the youngest female player ever to gain the title of grandmaster, beating Judit Polgar’s record in August 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest women’s world chess champion in history by winning the 2010 world championship in Hatay, Turkey at age 16.
She has won the title four times and is the reigning champion. They say that she will still be champion for the next 10 years. Now Hou Yifan, 100 points stronger than any of her colleagues, has abandoned the women’s championship cycle.
Hou says “I decided to drop out from WGP (Women Grand Prix) cycle after I received an unclear answer from Fide regarding the possibility of a change in the current women’s world championship system. I participated in all previous cycles since 2009, and the main reason in recent years was that the overall winner got the right to play the women’s world championship match. I didn’t think this was actually reasonable, but it was the only option I had. Now the situation is different. I do not see any point in taking part in the different stages only to be able to play in the WWCC, especially when the opponents usually are at least 100 points below me. For years now, I have expressed my deep dissatisfaction to FIDE about this, but they didn’t accept anything I said. So I won’t consider staying in a system with which I completely disagree.”
Hou is the third woman to be rated among the world’s top 100 players, after Judit Polgár and Maia Chiburdanidze. She is widely regarded as the best female chess player now, “leaps and bounds” ahead of her rivals.
The 2016 Asian Continental Chess Championships--Open and Women’s – is on-going from May 25 to June 5th at the Uzbekistan Hotel in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The top five players qualify for the 2017 World Cup, an integral part of the World Championship Cycle. The women’s champion qualifies for the Women’s World Championship.
I am mentioning this as there is no Filipino player entered both for men and women in this major tournament! There are 91 entered in the Open category and 35 for Women. I understand that hotel accommodation is free for at least one representative from each country. So what is going on? I was informed that the NCFP has a lot of problems.
Our lady journalist KC Morala sent in this report.
“Rogelio Enriquez, Jr. and Percival Fiel won last Sunday’s Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (Cepca) monthly tournament held at Robinsons Galleria Cebu.
Enriquez tied with Yves Fiel for the top spot with 7.5 points in the 8-round Class A category, but a superior tiebreak score granted Enriquez the champion title.
Since both Enriquez and Fiel has qualified to the grand finals in December, third place Rosendo Yamyamin was named the month of May’s winning player for Class A.
Meanwhile, in Class B , Percival Fiel and Jerry Maratas tied at 4.5 points in the 5-round tournament for first and second places respectively, due to a better tiebreak.
Airene Robillos held Maratas to a draw and finished with 4 points, for a tie with Manuel Abucay, Richard Ouano and KC Morala.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pestaño: Busy month for Cebu chess

IN a previous article, I reminded Cebuano players that they are quite lucky as there are plenty of tournaments here because of chess patrons Boojie Lim, Marvynne Guardiana and of course, Cepca. There are other sponsors as well.
We have three coming tournaments in just a week after the just concluded tournaments in Mabolo and Apas this month.
On May 29, Cepca will have a tournament for members, ladies as well as Kiddies at the Robinson’s Galleria at 1:30 p.m. Registration is P200 for members and P100 for ladies and kiddies.
The five-round tournament will have two categories--A and B. Class A players are selected members of Cepca and some of their children, while all ladies and kiddies will be playing in the B category with the other members. Prizes for Class A are P2,000, P1,000, and P500 for the top three and P2,500, P1,500 and P1,000, for the Class B.
This month’s sponsor is Cepca president Engr. Jerry Maratas.
On June 1 and 2, there will be the open 4th VBMA Power tournament also at Robinson sponsored by Cepca vice president Engr. Marvynne Guardiana. It will be a seven-round tournament and it will start at 1 p.m. On-site registration starts at 1030 a.m. on Wednesday. There will be P20,000 in prizes for the winners. Registration is P250.
On June 4 and 5, Barangay Kalunasan will hold an open tournament at the 4th floor of the Barangay hall starting at 9:30 a.m. for the open, ladies and kiddies division.
The results of the following tournaments, just concluded this month, was sent lady journalist and my favorite player, Keith Claire Morala.
“Mabolo. Chess players from all over Barangay Mabolo showed off their skills in the 2016 Barangay Mabolo Annual fiesta chess tournament at the Mabolo Elementary School Cultural Center last May 15.
Justin Misa and Alex Bayubay tied for top spot at six points apiece in the 7-round Swiss system competition. Misa brought home the champion trophy courtesy of a superior tiebreak.
Hector Villamora, Norvil Tagnipis, Duane Borgonia, and Edsel Vosotros finished in a four-way tie at 5.5 points respectively. Those who made the top 12 with 5.0 points each were Rodolfo Ang, Bonjoe Lanorias, Laila Nadera, Reshie Rolan, Christian Pondoyo and Alberto Rivera.
Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano was unmatched in the 2016 Barangay Apas Junior Chess Tournament held at the Brgy Apas Sports Complex last May 18. Sevillano racked six straight wins before settling for a draw in his last round with Aldritz Pondoyo, securing his solo top spot in the 7-round tournament.
Meanwhile, Edsel Vosotros posted five victories and a draw to seize second place. Ryan Pacres and Kirk Morala both wound up with five points but Pacrestook third place with a superior tiebreak score.
Reishi Polan and Pondoyo finished tied with 4.5, but Polan made top 5 since he won against Pondoyo in the fourth round.
Jeremy Bajo scored four points to nab the Top Female’s crown for the 17-under category, while Jasia Dorog took the 12-under Top Female title.
The top three finishers for 12-under category were Rolfred Lacanaria (4 points), Gyles Derotas (4), and Jave Peteros (3.5 ). Derotas was also hailed as the Top Apas Player.”

Friday, May 20, 2016

Pestaño: No generation gap in chess

THE generation gap is common in all societies between one generation to another. It can be differences in customs, attitudes, beliefs ,opinions or sense of values between younger people and their parents or grandparents.
The sociological theory of a generation gap first came to light in the 1960s, when the younger generation (later known as Baby Boomers) seemed to go against everything their parents had previously believed in terms of music, values, governmental and political views. Usually, when any of these age groups is engaged in its primary activity, the individual members are physically isolated from people of other generations, with little interaction across age barriers except at the family level.
The gap is even more apparent now with the advent of technology such as cell phones and the internet.
There is only one activity I know that has no generation gap--the game of chess. Old people can play with younger people, even children and children can play with much older people and enjoy and interact with no sense of conflict and with no apparent advantage over the other.
This week, a grandparent was featured in my favorite website--an 89-year-old chess fanatic desperate for opponents who is now taking on student volunteers at the nursing home where he stays.
Here’s what wrote: “Bill, who’s been an avid chess player for almost 70 years, posted a cardboard sign on the door to his room at Creasy Springs Health Campus in Lafayette, where he’s lived for three years. It read: “Anybody want to play chess?”
The plea broke the hearts of all who saw it, his daughter Trish said.
“It was just so sad,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Oh my gosh, how can I get him some chess players?’ I knew some schools have chess players or chess clubs.…”
Trish contacted Gloria Grigsby, the assistant principal at McCutcheon High School, from which Trish’s own kids graduated.
Grigsby told ABC News that six students were willing to play chess with Bill. Some of the teens belonged to the school’s board game club, some were from the National Honor Society.
Paige Vester, life enrichment director of the nursing home, said Bill had been having trouble finding chess opponents until the seniors at McCutcheon came along.
“It’s tough to find someone, especially in a long-term care facility, who has the ability to do those kinds of things,” Vester said. “I think these kids are really special and the fact that they get to visit with Bill ... it’s a special connection. [Bill’s] very talkative, very personable ... he’s hilarious.”
Now, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the kids challenge Bill to games of chess.
“Not only do these students have high academic standing, but they’re involved in multiple activities,” Grigsby said. “To then continue to give up more of their time to volunteer, to me, is very heartwarming. We are very proud of them.”
Ryan Howard, 18, said he’s learning a thing or two from his new opponent.”I enjoy interacting with Bill,” Ryan said. “I have elderly grandparents that I don’t get to see much. Interacting with that generation is very meaningful for me. Bill enjoys the experience very much.”
Joshua Stalbaum, 18, also plays chess against Bill. “I feel like Bill really is very passionate about the game of chess and at the place where he lives, he doesn’t feel there’s anyone who’s is good enough competition to give him a fair opponent,” Joshua said.
Bill’s daughter Trish said she’s extremely grateful for the kids spending time with her dad, and hopes it inspires more good deeds.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pestaño: Philippines in arrears with Fide

AS OF of April 14 last month the Philippines is one of those listed that has pending arrears with FIDE. This has become a habit in the past several years and there is a clear and present danger that we may not be able to play in the coming Olympiad. There are no current news that this has been paid. More on this later.
The 42nd Chess Olympiad, will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan on Sept. 1-14.There were two other interested cities—Albena in Bulgaria and Tallinn in Estonia but were not approved.
This was a controversial decision as many countries know that Armenia will not participate. The delegation of Armenia declared that participation of the Armenian chess players would be in that case impossible.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union, ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan fought a brief conflict, backed by Armenia proper, that resulted in the de facto independence of Nagorno-Karabak (NKR) alongside a 1994 ceasefire agreement.
Some clashes occurred in the years following the 1994 ceasefire. Although no exact casualty figures exist, by 2009, as many as 3,000 people, mostly soldiers, had been killed. In 2008, the fighting became more intense and frequent. With 72 deaths recorded throughout the year, 2014 became the bloodiest since the war ended.
Since the country's independence, the Armenian men's chess team has won the European Team Championship(1999), the World Team Championship (2011) and the Chess Olympiad (2006, 2008, 2012). The women's team had its crowning victory at the 2003 European Championship. As of February 2016, Armenia ranks seventh in the world by the average rating of its top players. Levon Aronian, Armenia's best chess player, is currently world No. 4 in the FIDE rankings. Aronian was a World Champion candidate several times.
Since the 2011–12 school year, Armenia is the first country in the world to make chess mandatory in schools.
Garry Kasparov has compared the popularity of chess in Armenia with the popularity of football (soccer) in Brazil and Argentina.
Another problem before was Ukraine. It is also a major power in Chess. Fide suspended Ukraine last March 25 as it failed within the set deadline, to pay the full amount of the fee for the Women's World Championship match in Lviv has not been paid within the set deadline.
The Ukrainian debt is estimated at EUR 60,000. It can be recalled that the women’s championship between Mariya Muzychuk and Hou Yifan was played in Lyiv last March and normally Fide gets 20% of the prize money.
Andriy Sadovy, Mayor of Lyiv, announced that the problems between FIDE and the Ukrainian Chess Federation have been smoothed out last April 18 as the city’s pride and reputation was at stake.
As approved by the Presidential Board in Sochi, there will be a new procedure regarding Federations more than six months in arrears. The new policy, which comes into immediate effect, is that on December 31, the treasurer will list on the FIDE website those countries that are deemed to be over six months in arrears. Until the arrears have been paid off, players from these Federations cannot participate in any FIDE events that are under the aegis of a.) the World Championship & Olympiad Commission or Events Commission, b.) Continental competitions that provide qualifiers to any of the aforesaid competitions.
Wesley So recently won $35,000 for placing second in the US Championship and earning $15,000 in the Blitz match yhat followed. This week, he got another $10,000 in his losing match (2.5-1.5) with Ding Liren in Shanghai,China as part of the US-China Summit. Making good money

Friday, May 6, 2016

Pestaño: Wesley in ultimate blitz game vs. Kasparov

THE entire world was looking forward to this blitz event where Garry Kasparov was going to lock horns against three of the best players in the world--Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So.
This was part of the US Championship and format was a four-player sextuple round robin. Each player would play against the other six times or 8 rounds of chess divided equally over two days. The time control was five minutes plus 3-second delays (not increment).
This was the strongest tournament of Kasparov since he retired and he performed quite well though he was at the receiving end of what commentators claimed as an immortal blitz game.
Wesley played a spectacular game against Kasparov in his 10th game. It was power chess with hard to see threats and surprising sacrifices. He was immediately compared to two of the 19th century chess legends: the American Paul Morphy and the brilliant German attacker Adolf Anderssen.
Wesley’s game was showered with superlatives all around the globe.
Kasparov took the defeat in stride, praised Wesley and even donated his winnings to the US chess olympiad team. But Kasparov will now be called the Kieseritzky of Blitz chess. Lionel Adalbert Bagration Felix Kieseritzky was known not only for his long name, but for his loss of the original Immortal Game as well. It was won by Anderssen in London in 1851. This friendly encounter later became the subject of many books.
This is what the commentators had to say about the game:
Maurice Ashley: “The day started with a thunderbolt: Wesley So playing one of the finest attacking game since Morphy!”
Yasser Seirawan: “Wesley’s game against Kasparov will go down in history as one of the greatest blitz games ever played. I will remember that game for the rest of my life.”
Nakamura ($20,000) had a strong second day and won the event with 11/18 a point clear of Wesley ($15,000) on 10 points. Kasparov ($10,000) acquitted himself very well and finished on 9.5 points, a plus score. Caruana ($5,000) got cut adrift and collapsed to only 5.5 points.
Chess in Schools. There will be an international conference this month on Chess in Schools in Poland on May 20.The project “Education through Chess in Schools” is organized by the Polish Chess Federation in cooperation with Ministry of National Education and Ministry of Sport and Tourism.
The direct stimulus for the start of implementation came from the European Parliament in 2012 calling on all member states of the European Union to introduce Chess in Schools.
Playing chess improves logical and analytical thinking, problem solving skills, development of spatial orientation, concentration and many others. Through chess we try to support the intellectual, social and emotional development of children.
Another conference is in Armenia, organized by the ministry of Education and Chess Academy of Armenia, in cooperation with Fide, the International Conference entitled “Theoritical and practical issues of Chess in Schools” will be held in  Tsaghkadzor on Sept. 30 to Oct. 3.
The main topics of the conference are the following: Chess education and personality development, socio-psychological issues of chess education, chess teachers’ training and professional development, technological and methodological aspects of chess education and chess and inclusive education practices.
Armenia is one of the countries in the world where chess is mandatory in primary schools.
The Philippines should send some representatives to these conferences to gain some insights on the benefits of chess on children.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pestaño: Only a few black players excel in chess Thursday, April 28, 2016

ON March 14 1999, Maurice Ashley, born in Jamaica (March 6, 1966), beat Adrian Negulescu and became the first African American International Grandmaster. This month, he was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame and received his honor as the US Chess Championship got underway, while taking on commentating duties.
When he got the call in January that he was being inducted for his contributions as a player, coach and commentator, Ashley said tears came to his eyes. “For me to hear that I’m being inducted for everything I’ve given to the game, that I’ve done to promote the game, that I’ve done to help young people play, and for the inspiration I’ve been, has just been absolutely incredible,” Ashley told The Associated Press.
“Ashley is a great inspiration to younger black players, and to younger players of any race, that they could be a grandmaster too someday,” said Frank Brady, past president of the Marshall Chess Club.
Although blacks comprised about 15 percent of the world population, very few excel in chess. There have been about 2,000 GMs and WGMs since it was instituted by the World Chess Federation in 1950 but there are only three black GMs and one WGM.
In 2007, Pontus Carlsson, a black player from Sweden, became a GM. He was born in Cali, Columbia. When he was one year old, his entire family died and he was subsequently adopted by a Swedish couple. His adopted father was the former president of the Swedish Chess Federation who taught him how to play chess.
In 2007, Amon Simutowe, a black player from Zambia, also became GM. He took second place in the 2000 World Junior Chess Championships in Armenia.
There is also a WGM. In 2005, Tuduetso Sabure of Botswana became the first black woman grandmaster when she won the African Women’s Championship.
Aside from chess, there have been about 800 individuals and organizations who have received the Nobel prizes and only 12 have been blacks—nine for peace, two for literature and one for economics and none in the sciences.
However blacks are also “genetically superior in sports” like basketball, boxing etc.
US Championship. Wesley So didn’t lose a single game — but that wasn’t good enough to win the national title. He should have won against Chandra, who lost almost all his games. So earned $35,000.
Caruana played almost perfect chess in the entire tournament. He scored 8.5 points, one more than Wesley and Nakamura who tied for second.
In a matter of days, So will be flying to Shanghai, China, for a match with Ding Liren, ranked ninth in the world, one spot ahead of him.
So will also play in the Grand Chess Tour, a series of tournaments in Paris, Brussels, St. Louis and London featuring nine players — all ranked in the top 15 in the world — plus a wild card entry from each country. The tour carries a total prize fund of more than $1 million.
He’ll also try to defend his title at the Bilbao Masters tournament in Spain. And it’s a certainty he’ll be playing for the US team at the Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, in September.
Starting today and tomorrow, we will witness 18 rounds of blitz chess featuring the top three finishers of the US Championship 2016 and Garry Kasparov. The tournament has the following format: It will be a four-player sextuple round robin. Each player will play against the other six times. The time control is 5 minutes plus 3-second delay (not increment) and total prize fund is $50,000.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pestaño: SAC fetes USC chess teams in sports awards

 Thursday, April 21, 2016
OUR lady journalist and my favorite player, Keith Claire Morala, sent in this twin reports.
“The University of San Carlos-BED Chess Team received a special citation in the 34th SAC-SMB Cebu Sports Awards held at Robinsons Galleria Cebu last April 20.
This award was given in recognition of what the young Warriors Grand Slam victory,” which refers to the back-to-back sweeping success in the 2015 Milo Olympics National Finals held in Pangasinan.
The Secondary Girls team is made up of Laila Nadera, Glysen Derotas,Jeremy Bajo, Cherry Caballes and Loisa Ranili. Jeffu Dorog, Ryan Pacres, Arvert Cadiz, Jonas Bajo and Kirk Morala represented the Secondary Boys team.
The elementary girls team was composed of Naureen Bagano, Jasia Dorog,Kirsten Sanchez, and Althea Bagano, while Raniel Perandos, Jave Peteros, Vic Gyles Derotas, Dwayne Abella, Andrei Cadiz completed the list for the elementary boys team.
All four categories were won by the USC chess teams as they represented the Visayas Team in the said categories.
The team also earned four Most Outstanding Player Awards--Nadera for the secondary girls division, Dorog for the secondary boys division, Naureen Bagano for the elementary boys division and Perandos in the elementary boys division.
Nadera also received a special citations award for her achievement in the National Age Group finals, where she seized the champion trophy and claimed a slot in the Philippine Team.
Whatever the combination of words, excellence was what these young USC Warriors has exemplified, and the result has been nothing short of spectacular.
Abella Memorial. National Master Merben Roque orchestrated his sweeping success in the 2nd Roger Abella Memorial Open Chess Tournament held at the Robinsons Galleria Cebu last April 17.
After quashing his opponents in the first six rounds, including International Master Kim Steven Yap in the sixth round, NM Roque drew his last game with Carlos Moreno III.
At 6.5 points, Roque secured his place as solo champion of the seven-round tournament.
Those who were tied at six points were Moreno, IM Yap, Rommel Ganzon, Richard Natividad, NM Elwin Retanal, and Edsel Montoya, who finished at the second to the seventh places, respectively, after the tiebreaks.
Those who made the top 10 with 5.5 points are Rogelio Enriquez, Jr., Anthony Makinano, and Kiddie player stand-out Reishi Polan.
Polan also received an award for being the Top Kiddies player, followed by Duane Borgonia and Aaron Resma with four points each.
Airene Robillos took the Top Ladies award, Laila Nadera placed second, while I finished third.
A total of 129 players took part in the tournament.”
US Championship. Wesley So is in a two-way tie for first place, reflecting a sharp turnaround from his erratic performance last year because of family problems. An unexpected visit from his estranged mother resulted in an open confrontation with his “foster” mother Lotis Key. He even forfeited a game because of a rules violation.
So’s aggressive play has been praised by experts as the most scintillating and entertaining of the tournament and after five games, he remains undefeated. He won over Kamsky, Akobian and Chandra and drew with Caruana and Shabalov. So and fellow Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana share first place atop the elite 12-player field, each with three wins and two draws.
After a rest day, his opponent will be Nakamura, who has a higher rating than him. “He’s one of the best players in the world and I have a lot of respect for him, actually,” So said. “He’a four-time U.S. champion. At the same time, I’m hoping for my first.”

Friday, April 8, 2016

Pestaño: Blondes vs. Brunettes rivalry

ONE of the greatest rivalries since time immemorial is between the blondes and brunettes. They not only compete in real life but also in movies, television, comics and sports like baseball, swimming, football, soccer and most important chess.
The rivalry is a cultural phenomenon in countries that have a significant blonde population like Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and especially in the United States.
The existence of the blonde vs. brunette rivalry in the USA dates back To 1875 when the first female professional baseball players were assigned to teams according to their hair color. In 1924 a female swimming meet listed a “blonde vs. brunette” relay race, that was “won by the blondes.”
Another recent example is the gridiron football game called Blondes vs. Brunettes powderpuff football, which started in 2005 and is now played in 16 cities around the USA to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. Anson Dorrance the women’s soccer coach at the University of North Carolina divides his team into blondes and brunettes and then have them compete against each other.
He claims his “blondes vs. brunettes drill” worked with his female team because it was a “matter of pride.”
The most popular blonde vs. brunette rivalry in American culture exists in the comic book industry where Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge have been engaged in a mostly friendly competition for more than 70 years now with their high school classmate Archie Andrews, a redhead.
Three’s Company an ABC  itcom that ran from 1977-1984 also featured a blonde and brunette triangle. The blonde, Chrissy Snow, was played by Suzanne Somers and the brunette, Janet Wood, was played by Joyce DeWitt. The man in the middle, Jack Tripper, was played by John Ritter.
Blondes vs Brunettes is a Hollywood technique that extends back to before the war. Hollywood director Dorothy Arzner stated that lead women in supporting roles must always have different hair color to accentuate the contrasting beauty of each type. Blondes were usually cast as the fickle types while brunettes are cast as the more serious and emotional types.
The blonde vs. brunette chess matches began in 2011 as part of the World Chess Tournament held in Moscow. The match was hosted by the Botvinnik Central Chess Club and featured two teams of young girls, blondes dressed in light colors and brunettes dressed in dark colors .The 2011 match, which was the first in the series, was won by the brunettes. The 2012 re-match was won by the blondes who defeated the brunettes, 36.5-24.5.
A third blonde vs. brunette chess match, also held at the Central Chess Club on April 1, 2013, resulted in a tie score The traditional sixth blitz match between “Blondes” and “Brunettes” took place last March 27 in Moscow. The format was Scheveningen with eight players in each team, meaning each player played all of the members of the other team.
The Brunettes clinched a 34.5-29.5 victory. The players and their individual results are listed below.
Blondes: 1.) GM Valentina Gunina (7.5), 2.) GM Natalia Zhukova (6), 3.) WGM Irina Zakurdiaeva (3), 4.) IM Irina Vaselivich (2), 5.) WIM Alina Bivol (2), 6.) WIM Maria Fominykh (4), 7.) WFM Viktoria Zarivkina (2), 8.) WFM Yulia Dumcheva (2.5).
Brunettes: (1) WGM Alexandra Gorvachkina (4), 2.) IM Svetlana Matyeeva (4), 3.) WGM Karina Ambartsumova (7), 4.) WGM Elmira Mirzoeva (3.5), 5.) WGM Evgeniya Chasovnikova (2.5), 6.) FM Daria Pustovoytova (4.5), 7.) WFM Anna Gvanceladze (4), 8.) WFM Alexandra Zherebtsova (5).
Women with red hair are few but the strongest female of all time is a redhead, GM Judit Polgar.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Pestaño: It’s Karjakin vs. Carlsen

SERGY KARJAKIN and Fabiano Caruana met in the final and 14th round of the Candidates tied for first with 7.5/13. Everyone was looking forward to that one duel, the battle which would decide who the challenger of Magnus Carlsen would be.
If it had been a draw, there would be several scenarios depending on the results of Anand’s game against Svidler. If Anand didn’t win his game, then Karjakin would be the champion based on his greater number of wins (second tiebreak). However, if Vishy won his battle against Svidler and reached 8.0/14, then there would be a three-way tie for first, and in that case Caruana would be the champion based on a superior head-to-head result (first tiebreak) against the other two.
After Anand had drawn his game with Peter Svidler, Karjakin only needed a draw in the final round. But he nicely refuted a huge error by Caruana to decide the game in his favor, in less than four hours of play, in a game that was worth roughly half a million dollars.
Sergey is the youngest player ever to gain the GM title (at 12 years and 7 months) and has fulfilled earlier predictions that someday he will be challenging for the world crown. The sentimental favorite though was Fabiano being based in the USA and had a higher rating.
To recall, the last American to vie for the crown was Gata Kamsky in 1996 against Karpov. Earlier than that was the famous Fischer vs. Spassky match in Iceland in 1972 dubbed the “Match of the century” at the peak of the cold war. However, now in 2016, we will see the match in the USA, but between a Norwegian and a Russian player. The most popular game in America, by the way, and also for most of the world is chess.
Celebrity fans of chess include Madonna, Julia Roberts Jay Z, Kevin Spacey, Jude Law, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Gates among thousands. Tobey Maguire recently produced and starred in a Hollywood film about the famous 1972 Fischer vs. Spassky Championship match title “Pawn Sacrifice.”
The Carlsen – Karjakin 2016 World Chess Championship is going to take place in New York this Nov. 11 to 30. The format is 12 rounds and is expected to attract a global online and TV audience of more than one billion fans. They will compete for a prize fund of at least 1 million euros ($1.1m).
“I and all New Yorkers welcome the world chess championship back to New York City. What better place to be than the city where parks are often populated by chess enthusiasts,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The last world championship match, held in Russia in 2014, enjoyed record-breaking coverage with the total audience topping 1.2 billion people. Carlsen won against ex-world champion Vishy Anand. If Agon, the commercial partner of FIDE, want to keep the popularity momentum of the event, a change of policy is a must after the low visibility of the candidates. Agon prohibited the coverage of the candidates tournament on other websites on a live basis.
Sergey Karjakin went home richer by €95,000. Fabiano Caruana and Vishy Anand took home €81,500. Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura, Levon Aronian and Peter Svidler won € 36,250 and Veselin Topalov got €17,000. (Note: 10 percent of Hikaru Nakamura’s fees will be deducted for his absence in the press conference after his game against Levon Aronian.)
The closing ceremony of the Candidates 2016 was attended by the president of Russia Igor Levitin, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, head of Russia’s Olympic committee and first deputy head of the state of Duma, Alexander Zhukov, Russian deputy sports minister Pavel Kolopkov and President of Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pestaño: The subtle religious aspects of chess

THIS article is not to discourage people to play the game but to enlighten why religious leaders banned the game. In the dark ages, the Roman Catholic and Ortodox churches, Islam, Baptist and other evangelical churches had, at one time or another, banned or forbade the game. This was caused by misinterpretation.
As in life, chess is the ultimate battle between good (white) and evil (black).
Chess is war in miniature and a battle of the minds. It is about defeating and humiliating your adversary. It is also a waste of precious time which can be used much better in doing something helpful for us, family and society in general.
Our only competition has to be self, not with our friends and neighbors. They are not our enemies. The devil (black) is our enemy. We should help them and not exploit their weaknesses. What people need is inspiration.
The game is actually against Christianity and is not about helping others to grow and to win/overcome. We can`t use any tactics to prevent others from winning like you are taught to do in playing chess.
The King is the secular head of the state with the church at his side (King's Bishop)- liaison between Man and God. But there are two Bishops, one for the Church, one for the Congregation, and between the two of them, they can get anywhere. This shows the transparent myth of Separation of Church and State.
The Queen is a powerful tool of his administration and starts at his side, to show his dominance. The straight and diagonal movement shows the ability to apply to all problems and situations.
The Knight is able to attack from unseen angles, and retreat across obstacles. The 90-degree component is seen by many to symbolize the duality of God's might and man's will.
The Rook is portrayed as a castle and examination of early structures leads many to conclude it is actually a church. Whatever it is, it usually exemplifies a building made of Stone, and "On this stone, I shall build a church."
All the Pawns represents mankind, serving God best by stepping blindly forward.
Playing chess, especially on the White Side, is acting out a morality play, attacking the forces of darkness and crushing them under his heel. There lies the trick that ensnares and captivates millions of innocent souls to chess every year.
Evil has, mathematically, as much of a chance to win as good. The only restriction between the colors is that white moves first. In reality, the good side should have more power than the evil, for the Lord has said, regarding his believers: "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Unfortunately, the 'powers' given to the individual units of a chess set are evenly matched by their direct opponents.
Anther problem is the power of the Queen. She is clearly portrayed as the King's wife, but granted greater power and maneuverability. She travels and works independently of the King, if nominally at his 'bidding.' This directly conflicts with many biblical verses, like:"...and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
A further heresy in chess, is that of returning lost souls to play. If a simple pawn makes it unmolested to the final rank of the enemy's side, he can be transmuted to any other piece of the game. In this manner, lost pieces can be regained. The bible clearly shows that there is only one event of importance and that is the judgment. After that, the soul is sent to heaven or hell . Reincarnation is the devils idea.