Friday, February 26, 2016

Pestaño: World women’s championship

THE 2016 World Championship match between current champion Maria Muzychuk of Ukraine and her challenger Hou Yifan of China, who is a former World Champion from 2010 to 2012 and from 2013 to 2015, will take place in Ukraine, starting March 1. It was originally scheduled last Oct. 11 to 31 but was postponed because no host could be found.
There is also a FIDE-scheduled World Championship in October 2016, which will be played as a 64 player knock-out tournament.
The 2015 Championship was a 64-player knockout tournament in Sochi, Russia, last March 15. Hou Yifan did not enter the tournament and so relinquished the title. The highest-rated player was Humpy Koneru, but she lost in the quarterfinal. The final was won by Mariya Muzychuk, who beat Natalia Pogonina, 2.5–1.5.
Hou Yifan earned the right to challenge her after she finished first in the Grand Prix Series 2013-2014.
Hou is heavily favored in this tournament as she has a rating of 2673 compared to Mariya’s 2554. The two have played in only three classical games against each other. One game ended in a draw, while the other two were won by Hou Yifan with the black pieces
The winner of the ten-game match is the first player to reach 5.5 points or more. Time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one.
If the scores are level after the regular 10 games, there will be a new drawing of colors and four tie-break games will be played with 25 minutes for each player. There will be an increment of 10 seconds after each move.
If the scores are level after the four rapid games, there will be another drawing of colors, then two games will be played with a time control of five minutes plus three seconds’ increment after each move. In case of a level score, another two-game match will be played to determine a winner. If there is still no winner after five such matches, one sudden-death game will be played.
The prize fund for this match is 200,000 Euros, with 60 percent going to the winner if the match ends within the 10 regular games. If it goes to the tiebreak, the winner will get 55 percent.
In openings, Muzychuk usually plays Sicilian Defence with both white and black, followed by French Defence with white and Dutch Defence with black. Hou Yifan primarily plays 1.e4 as white. With black, she usually plays the Sicilian Defence as well as the French Defence. She also plays the Bogo-Indian and Queen’s Indian against 1.d4.
MCDONALDS. Our Lady journalist Keith Claire Morala and my favorite player sent in this report . “Ten-year old John Belano wrapped up his outstanding performance with a perfect score in the third monthly elimination of the McDonalds Jones Cup Chess Championships last Feb. 21 at the McDonalds Jones Branch.
The young champion outsmarted all six of his opponents in the 6-round Swiss System tournament, including second placer Edsel Vosotros. Vosotros tied with Jervy Villarin, Hardeil Salmeron and Angel Naureen Bagano, who was awarded the best female performer, at 5 points.
The rest of the top 10 players are Arje Villarin (4.5), Kirk Patrick Morala (4.0), Luisa Marie Ranili (4.0), Bon Joshua Teves (4.0) and Romeo Jared Rollan (4.0). Belano and Vosotros will advance to the February Monthly Finals. A total of 52 kiddie players took part in the tournament.”

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pestaño: Big chess festival starts in Gen San

THE Bobby Pacquiao Random Chess Festival will take place tomorrow until Wednesday at the SM Mall of General Santos City with P2 million in cash prizes.
Bobby is a brother of Manny Pacquiao and is reportedly running for congressman as Manny will be running for senator. He is also a former boxer.
Organized by the Eugene Torre Chess Foundation, this festival is sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines and is open to members of good standing only. Players with ratings of 1799 and below and unrated players will be given a provisional rating of 1800 for calculation purposes only. Ratings will be based as of the Jan. 1 list of NCFP and FIDE.
There will be three different tournaments all with Random format. The team event has a total prize of P1.6 million and will be held first on Saturday and Sunday. This will be followed by a rapid individual event on Monday and Tuesday and a blitz event on Wednesday with total prizes of P400,000.
Each team will have four players and their average Elo must not exceed 2100.Each team can have one grandmaster and three non-masters, or one international master with three non-masters.
Other options for a team is to have two Fide Masters and two non-masters, two National Masters and two non-masters, one Fide Master and one national master and two non-masters and four non-masters.
Scoring system of the team event is match point, meaning two points for a win, one point for a draw and nil for a loss.
Prizes for the team event are P500,000 for the champion plus trophy, P280,000 for the second placer and P170,000 for the third placer. Those who make the top 10 will earn at least P10,000, while those who make the top 50 will also get prizes.
The rapid individual event will follow on Feb. 24 and 25 and a blitz contest on Feb. 26. The Individual Rapid champion will get P60,000 plus trophy, while the second and third placers get P35,000 and P20,000, respectively.
There will also be prizes for 11th to 50th placers and special prizes for top Gen. San player, top ladies and top seniors.
The Blitz event will offer P20,000,12,000 and P8,000 to the top players.
In case of ties there will be pooling of prizes for first to fifth places. For sixth to 50th places, there will be no pooling of prizes and tiebreaks will decide. This will be true for the team event and individual prizes.
Registration fee is P2,000 per team and P200 for individual competition. Time control is one hour and 50 minutes plus 10 seconds for each player, play to finish, for the team event. Format is nine rounds Swiss.
WORLD CHESS CYCLE. The Candidates Tournament will determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship against the reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a match scheduled for November 2016.
FIDE and Agon, its commercial partner, are organizing the Candidates Chess Tournament 2016 in Moscow from March 10 to 30.
The first round will see an all Russian and all American pairings--Sergey Karjakin (winner of World Cup) vs. Peter Svidler (runner-up World Cup) and Hikaru Nakamura (Grand Prix qualifier) vs. Fabiano Caruana (Grand Prix qualifier). The other two encounters of the day will be Anish Giri (by rating) vs. Levon Aronian (by rating) and a repeat of the 2010 World Chess Championship Viswanathan Anand ( loser of previous championship) vs. Veselin Topalov (Organizers nominee).

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pestaño: PSC eyes Karpov vs. Torre match

THE big news now is the proposed match between Eugene Torre and Anatoly Karpov.
The Chairman of the Philippine Sports Comission, Richie Garcia, had an interesting meeting recently with Russia’s ambassador to the Philippines Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev. The Russian ambassador suggested having former world champion Anatoly Karpov in an exhibition match with our Eugene Torre. In addition, Russia will also bring in their athletes in basketball, where they excel.
Although this might be a sensation to this basketball-crazy country, we are more interested in the chess matchup. Most of the current chess players today are not familiar with these two gentlemen as their best achievements were more than 40 years ago. Here are some enlightenment.
Karpov had over 160 first-place finishes. He had a peak Elo rating of 2780, and taking into consideration that ratings have inflated by 100 to 150 points since the 70s, Karpov now would be rated close to 2900.
In fact, the late Florencio Campomanes told me that Bobby Fischer was afraid of Karpov and their championship match did not push through in 1975 although the Philippines offered the then unheard prize of $5 million. This is equivalent to probably $20 million today as President Marcos was eager to place the Philippines in the world map.
Though a world championship match between Karpov and Fischer was highly anticipated, those hopes were never realized. Fischer insisted that the match be the first to 10 wins (draws not counting), but that the champion would retain the crown if the score was tied 9–9. Fide refused to allow this proviso, and after Fischer’s resignation of the championship on June 27, 1975, Fide declared that Fischer forfeited his crown.
Spassky thought that Fischer would have won in 1975 but Karpov would have qualified again and beaten Fischer in 1978. Garry Kasparov said that Karpov would have had good chances, because he had beaten Spassky convincingly and indeed had higher quality games, while Fischer had been inactive for three years.
Karpov is on record saying that if he had the opportunity to play Fischer for the crown in his twenties, he could have been a much better player as a result. Karpov’s “boa Constrictor” playing style is solidly positional, taking no risks but reacting mercilessly to any tiny errors made by his opponents.
Eugene Torre is no pushover in this match. In 1974, then 22 years old, he became Asia’s first Grandmaster by winning the silver medal in the Chess Olympiad held in Nice, France.
In a tournament in Manila in 1976, Torre beat then reigning world chess champion Anatoly Karpov himself.
He qualified for the Candidates matches in 1982 but lost to Zoltan Ribli. Had he qualified in the Candidates, he would have played against Karpov, who was the reigning champion then.
In 1988, Torre captained the Philippine team to its best-ever seventh-place finish in the Chess Olympiad in Greece.
In June 2014, Torre won the National Chess Championships - Battle of GMs – in Manila. In so doing, Torre became the oldest Filipino chess player to win a national championships at the age of 62. Torre also has a record 22nd appearance in the Olympiad, the most by any player.
The Philippine Sportswriters Association name him “athlete of the millenium” besting the late Caloy “the Big Difference” Loyzaga, Felicisimo “Mighty Mite” Ampon who wowed the crowd at Wimbledon in the 40s and Gabriel “Flash “Elorde.
I invited Eugene to dinner in our house a long time ago, to meet my late father, who was utterly delighted being also a chess player himself.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Pestaño: All about Tata Steel

TO be invited to Tata Steel is like getting an invitation to the White House. It is rich in history and is one of the longest running tournament in the international chess calendar as it is now on its 78th edition.
The tournament took place last Jan. 15 to 31 in the coastal village of Wijk aan Zee, North Holland. The “Wimbledon of Chess” invites only the top grandmasters in the world, along with thousands of players, live event visitors and online visitors from around the world. The tournament has two main groups, each with 14 players. They are known as the Tata Steel Masters and the Tata Steel Challengers.
I will concentrate only on the Masters group.
It was called the Hoogovens tournament from its inception in 1938 until 1999, after which the Dutch steel and aluminum producer Koninklijke Hoogovens merged with British Steel to form the Corus Group on Oct. 6 1999 (“Hoogoven” is Dutch for “blast furnace”, literally “high oven”). The Corus Group was acquired by Tata Steel in 2007 and since then, the tournament has been called the Tata Steel Chess Tournament.
This year, the event was rated Category 20 with an average Elo rating of 2750. Magnus Carlsen, Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri, Ding Liren, Wesley So, Sergey Karjakin, Pavel Eljanov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Michael Adams, David Navara, Wei Yi, Yifan Hou and Loek Van Wely were Group A players of the first top tournament of the year.
Most top tournaments, like Tata Steel, do not reveal the amount of the prize money and appearance fees of each player. They prefer to negotiate the conditions personally with each player without informing the public about the details. The average figure of the first prize at a super tournament like this is $50,000 to $100,000. The appearance fees for players rated 2700+ are usually in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. The very top stars can negotiate even better rates.
Magnus once again justified his status as a player apart and world champion. He easily won five games, lost none, edged his rating back over 2850 and finished a full point ahead of the field.
Caruana beat three (Ding Liren, Eljanov and Wei Yi) and went into the final round with good chances of catching Carlsen but lost to Tomashevsky and still finished second.
This is the first time Hou Yifan has finished joint last in Wijk aan Zee. She could easily have scored more points, gaining a close to winning position against both Karjakin and So in her first two games, losing a position even Magnus didn’t think he could win in Round 11 and then failing to beat Anish Giri in the final round by a whisker. She looked at home in elite company.
Sergey had said beforehand that this was going to be a training tournament for him and said he will be satisfied if at the end, he will finish no lower than third. He had a solitary win against Evgeny Tomashevsky and had losses to Ding Liren and Mickey Adams. He had generally lackluster play all round.
Wei Yi, The 16-year-old Chinese sensation didn’t set the world on fire in Wijk aan Zee, but he defended tenaciously, including against the World Champion, and lost only a single game to Caruana. When you consider Carlsen had lost four games and won none in Wijk aan Zee at the same age, Wei Yi’s 50 percent score for joint seventh place begins to look even more impressive.
Wesley So had a dynamic win against his nemesis Anish Giri in the first round but somehow drew all his remaining 12 games, the most draws ever in his career in one tournament. He finished at a respectable fourth place duplicating decent places here the last two years.