Friday, January 1, 2016

Pestaño: The most significant events last year

ASIDE from a big number of major tournaments, these are the most significant events the past year in the order of importance to the Cebu chess community.
Without any doubt, the sudden and unexpected death of Felix Balbona shocked the whole community. He was in the middle of a chess game when he suddenly collapsed. Brought to the hospital, he was declared dead on arrival. He was a valued member of Cepca and one of the pioneers and a pillar of strength of the club.
A unique family, Felix and Juliet brought up their children—Jessa,Felix Shaun, Marq Gabriel, John Francis and James Andrew—to be chess players.
Cepca was 25 years old last year and celebrated their silver anniversary with a grand party giving special awards to the past presidents of the club and selected members, one of whom was Felix. Also recognized was Handuraw Pizza and Marie Ernestine School.
The highlight of the celebration was the biggest tournament in Cebu in 2015 and the publication of a silver anniversary magazine chronicling the past achievements and history of the club. To my knowledge no club in the Philippines has done this and very few in the whole world.
Chess in Schools is a prime objective of the World Chess Federation and is now mandatory in a great number of countries worldwide. The game improves the learning, thinking, analytical power, and decision-making ability of a child and is extremely helpful in brain development.
The first and only school in the Philippines to include chess in the curriculum is Marie Ernestine School both in their Mactan and Talamban campuses for Grades 3 to 6. Just like any subject, the children are given grades for their acquired skills.
Following the furor of the Paris bombings and killings, Fide President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was put on a US sanction list on Nov. 25 for providing support to the Syrian government. This means that any assets he has in the US are to be frozen and US citizens are prohibited from having any dealings with him. As a result, he resigned temporarily as president until cleared of all charges but has sought legal procedures and filed for damages against the USA.
The following news was recently posted on Facebook “Our beloved chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov passed away. Kasparov was born on April 13, 1963 in Baku. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.”
Hundreds of fans immediately started writing their messages of condolence on the Facebook page, expressing their sadness that the talented 52-year-old chess grandmaster was dead. However the December 2015 report has now been confirmed as a complete hoax and just the latest in a string of fake celebrity death reports. Thankfully, the former World Chess Champion is alive and well.
This one though is real. Walter Shawn Browne died last June 24 in Las Vegas Navada at the age of 66 in his sleep. He was a six-time US Champion (1974, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983) as well as numerous opens, Wijk aan Zee (twice), Lone Pine, and five medals in the Olympiad. He was also a professional poker player often financing his chess this way. A Chess legend.
Not every chess legend has a “GM” before his name. IM Emory Andrew Tate Jr., 56, was participating in the Sam Shankland Open tournament last October 17 when he collapsed in the middle of the game. After receiving first aid, he was taken to a local hospital where he was attended to, but later passed away. Tate died doing what he did best and doing what he loved to do. Just like Felix Balbona at the same age.

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