Monday, July 02, 2007

The Weekender
by Manny Benitez, Sunday, 1 July 2007

Paragua seeks third strike in World Open
by Marlon Bernardino

FRESH from two lucky strikes in less than a week since arriving in the United States, No. 3 Filipino GM and 1996 Shell champion Mark Paragua makes no bones about his dream of making a third such strike in the $400,000 World Open in Valley Forge near Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

Paragua made his first strike on June 17 in the 12th Bradley Cup in Windsor, Connecticut, where he won the second prize. The first prize went to American GM Alexander Ivanov, who finished half a point ahead of Paragua and four others.

Paragua, a former under-14 world rapid champion, won on tiebreak over two-time world title candidate GM Leonid Yudasin of Israel, former world under-16 champion Zviad Izoria of Georgia, US women’s champion WGM Anna Zatonskih, and US Fide Mastert Robert Hess.

Paragua made his second strike on June 21 at the famous Marshall Chess Club in the heart of New York City’s Manhattan.

The Filipino prodigy settled for a tie for second to sixth places with 3.0 points from five games in the club’s Thursday night Championship won by former Estonian GM Jaan Ehlvest, now based in the Big Apple, who had 3.5 top a field of 57 players.

“I have had a good start in my preparation for the big event, the World Open, since I came to America,” Paragua said.


Antonio still No. 1 in July Fide ratings
by Marlon Bernardino

GM Joey Antonio is still the No. 1 player in the Philippines with Elo 2539, followed by GM Eugene Torre with 2538 and GM Mark Paragua with 2525, according to the July 1, 2007 ratings list issued today by the World Chess Federation (Fide).

IM Wesley So, 13, the country’s foremost child prodigy in chess, retains his No. 4 position with 2516, followed by IM Rogelio Barcenilla 2503, IM Oliver Dimakiling 2500, IM Joseph Sanchez 2469, IM Jayson Gonzales 2461, and IM Roland Salvador 2452 among the top ten Filipino players.

The rest of the top 20: GM Mariano Nelson 2447, IM Enrique Paciencia 2431, IM Rolly Martinez 2430, NM Hamed Nouri 2426, GM Bong Villamayor 2425, FM Julio Catalino Sadorra 2421, IM Rico Mascariñas 2416, IM Yves Rañola 2410, NM Ernesto Fernandez 2408 and NM Sander Severino 2405.


IM Salvador ties for third in Lodi Open
by Marlon Bernardino

FILIPINO IM Roland Salvador, No. 10 in the Philippines today, has landed among the top 10, in a tie for third place with five grandmasters, a fellow international master and a woman grandmaster, in the 76-player Lodi International Open in Italy.

The 25-year-old 2000 Shell national youth active chess champion, who is now based in Milan, finished with 4.0 points and took the sixth place on tiebreak, behind GMs Mladen Palec of Croatia and Vadim Malakhatko of Belgium and WGM Regina Pokorna of Slovakia, in that order.

Salvador who was the lone Filipino in the event was ahead, however, of IM Sabino Brunello and GMs Robert Zelcic of Croatia, Aleksander Delchev of Bulgaria and Miroljub Lazic of Serbia, also in that order.

The eight in a tie were only a half point behind the champion and his runner-up—Dutch GM Jan Werle and Ukraine’s Sergey A. Fedorchuk, respectively. With 4.5 points apiece, Werle took the championship trophy on tiebreak over his fellow GM.

The event drew 76 players, most of them from the host country.

It will be recalled that Salvador, a former stalwart of the Philippine Navy team who originally lived in Sapang Palay, Bulacan, earned his IM title in Lodi last year. He is now actively seeking the GM title in Europe.

One of his best efforts in Lodi was his win with Black against an Italian player.

Angelo Damia – R. Salvador
Lodi Open, Italy 2007
Sicilian Defense (B20)

1.e4 c5 2.a3 b6 2...Nc6 3.Nc3 equalizes, says Fritz 3.b4 Bb7 Equalizing 4.f3 e6 5.d4 cxd4 Not 5...cxb4 because of 6.axb4 Bxb4+ 7.c3 6.Qxd4 Keeping the balance Be7 7.Bf4 7.Qxg7?? would be a mistake, e.g., 7...Bf6 8.Bb2 Bxg7 9.Bxg7 Qg5 10.Bxh8 Qc1+ 11.Kf2 f6! Nc6 8.Qb2 That g7 pawn is still poisoned: 8.Qxg7?? Bf6 9.Qxh8 Bxh8, and Black is way ahead Bf6 9.e5 Bg5 10.Bg3 Bh4 11.Nd2 11.f4 should be tried Nxe5! 12.0–0–0 Not 12.Qxe5 because of 12...Bf6! Bxg3 13.hxg3 Qf6 14.Ne2 Ne7 14...d5 favors White: 15.g4 Nc6 16.Qxf6 Nxf6 17.g5! 15.g4 Best was 15.Nf4, e.g., 15...N5g6 16.Nc4, with equal chances Rc8! 16.Kb1 N7g6 17.Ng3 0–0 If 17...Qe7 18.Be2 f6 19.Nh5! 18.Nde4 Bxe4 19.Nxe4 Qf4 20.Nd6 Rc6 21.Bb5 21.Qd4! was the saving move Rxd6!

After 21…Rxd6!
The turning point.
22.Rxd6 Nc4! 23.Rd4 Nxb2 24.Rxf4 Nxf4 25.Kxb2 After the smoke of battle has cleared, Black is seen to have the material and positional advantage, with White saddled by a pair of doubled pawns d5! Simplification by liquidating the pawns 26.g3 Ng6 27.f4 Ne7 28.c4 dxc4 29.Bxc4 Rd8 30.Kc3 g6 31.a4 Kg7 32.a5 bxa5 33.bxa5 Nd5+ 34.Bxd5 Rxd5 35.Kb4 e5 If 35...h6 36.Rc1 36.fxe5 Rxe5 37.Rc1 Re3 Missing his best shot, 37...Rg5! 38.Rc3? Missing 38.Kb5! Rxc3! White is now winning 39.Kxc3 Kf6 39...h5 was the clincher: 40.gxh5 gxh5 41.Kd4, and Black wins 40.Kc4 Kg5 41.Kb5 Kxg4 42.Ka6 Kxg3 43.Kxa7 f5! Both will have new queens but Black’s pawn chain rules: seeing the futility of further resistance, White resigns. 0–1


Prospero Pichay Sr. Memorial set
by Marlon Bernardino

ALL players in the country, both masters and non-masters, are being invited to compete in the fourth Prospero Pichay Sr. Memorial Tournament to be held in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur, from August 12 to 15.

The annual open is being held to honor the late father of former Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr., president of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Among those expected to sign up for the event is last year’s champion, NM Ernesto Fernandez of Pagadian City.

According to tournament director Cesar Caturla, the NCFP president is sponsoring the tournament in memory of his father as one way of developing discipline and mental agility of young Filipinos so they can keep away from vice and other unwelcome activities like the use of prohibited drugs.

As in last year’s event, the 2007 Pichay Sr. Memorial would be a Fide-rated, nine-round Swiss with cash prizes at stake for the top 10 players, NM Caturla said.

The first prize is P100,000, second of P40,000, third P20,000, fourth P10,000, fifth P6,000 and sixth P5,000.

Players who finish in seventh to 10th places will receive P4,000 each.

Interested parties may contact NM Caturla for complete details, cell phone No. (0928) 713-2397.

Cantilan is ex-Congressman Pichay’s hometown.


CAAP: calling all non-masters rated 1950 & below

NON-MASTERS with ratings of 1950 (not 1500) and below may join the tournament being held today, July 1, at Ramon Magsaysay High School in Quezon City, just across Edsa Avenue from the Nepa-Q Mart, the Chess Arbiters Association of the Philippines (CAAP) has announced.

Yes, it will be held today, not last Sunday as erroneously reported here last week due to oversight under deadline pressure. The editor wishes to apologize for any inconvenience the wrong report may have caused.

As earlier reported, cash prizes and trophies will be awarded to the winners—P4,000 for the champion, P2,000 for the first runner-up, P1,000 for the second runner-up, P500 for the third runner-up and for each of those taking the fifth to 10th places, as well as for the special category winners—top kiddie, top lady and top senior players (aged 50 and older)..

The 11th to 20th winners will each receive a printed copy of the latest issue of The Weekender and those with email addresses will henceforth receive electronic copies every Sunday via email.


Nelson’s loss to Zsofia recalled

HERE you are, a full-blooded, teenaged male specimen of the Pinoy macho race. There, seated in front of you, is a girl about your age or maybe even younger, fair-skinned and very attractive. Then she flashes a smile at you and extends her hand...

Can you beat her black and blue, figuratively that is, in a no-holds-barred battle of wits?

I doubt it, and so does Ignacio Dee, who came up with the score of Nelson Mariano’s loss to
Zsofia Polgar in the 1994 World Junior Championships in Matinhos, Brazil.

The beauty of your opponent, if she is a girl and you are a boy in your teens, can be very distracting. Don’t you think so, too?

This is what may have happened to Nelson, now a grandmaster, when he came face to face with Ms Polgar, who remains a WIM, over a decade ago in the World Juniors.

It may be mentioned, however, that Zsofia, the middle one of the three famous Polgar sisters, was at the pinnacle of her powers at the time because she topped the tough Reggio Emilia a few years later in Rome.

Nelson finished third in the 1994 Juniors, the highest ever attained by a Filipino in that global event.

Nelson Mariano – Zsofia Polgar
World Juniors, Matinhos, Brazil 1994
Open Ruy Lopez (C82)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Bc5 10.Bc2 0–0 11.Nbd2 Nxf2 12.Rxf2 f6 13.exf6 Bxf2+ 14.Kxf2 Qxf6 15.Kg1 Rae8 16.Nf1?! Dubious: 16.Qf1 should keep the enemy at bay Ne5! 17.Be3 Nxf3+ 18.Qxf3 Qxf3 19.gxf3 Rxf3 Black is now ahead 20.Bd4 Bh3 21.Ng3 Re6 22.Rd1 If 22.b4 g6, with equal chances h5! 23.Bb3 23.Nxh5!? is interesting, says Fritz: 23...Re2 24.Bb3! c6 Black is now way, way ahead 24.Nxh5 Bg4 25.Nxg7 Rg6 26.Kg2 Rf7 Not 26...Rxg7?! because of 27.Bxg7 Kxg7 28.Re1! 27.Re1? If 27.Rd3 Bf3+ 28.Kh3 Rf4 29.Rxf3 Rxf3+ 30.Kh4 Rxg7 c5!

After 27…c5!
Brilliant, says Fritz.
28.Be5 If 28.Bdxc5 Bd1+!, a discovered attack c4 29.Bc2 Bf5+! 30.Bg3 Bxc2 31.Ne8 Be4+ 32.Kg1 Rf3 33.a3?! Fritz condemns the text as offering little resistance: 33.Rd1 was better, e.g., 33…b4 34.cxb4 Rc6 Kf8 34.Nc7 Rf7 35.Rf1 Rxf1+ 36.Kxf1 Ke7! 0–1

If eyes were made for seeing, then beauty is its own excuse for being,” as the eminent Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his immortal poem, The Rhodora.


Eric’s days of glory

LIKE many of his countrymen who wish to raise the quality of life of their loved ones, NM Eric Gloria left his homeland to work as a chess teacher in Singapore. For the past few years, he has been sending home to his family the fruits of his labors.

Two weeks ago, tragedy struck when he was felled by what is now believed to be a stroke and since then has been in a very critical condition. At this writing, he has been in intensive care in a Singapore hospital for over a week.

The case of NM Gloria, 47, is similar to hundreds or even thousands of Filipinos who left their homes to seek a better life abroad for themselves and their families but met with tragedy instead.

In the case of chess masters like him, the opportunities for finding a good-paying job are quite limited, but at least better than what they can find at home where most settle for a daily grind of hustling for a living—living by their wits literally, that is.

Except for those who have acquired other skills, they end up playing for wagers day in and day out. And even if they win most of the time in an 18-hour day of betting, what they bring home will never be enough to keep body and soul together, let alone feed their families.

Even the best of the lot—most of them school dropouts—cannot seem to make a go of it unless they are lucky enough to find work as coaches and trainers. Even then, their earnings are not up to par compared with other professions or trades.

NM Gloria was one of the lucky few who got good jobs in Singapore, which is now benefiting from their teachings as shown in the latest Asean Age-Group Championships where Singaporean kids finished second to Vietnam, way ahead of Pinoy kids, collectively at least.

Gloria achieved more than a modicum of success as a player. He starred in the Manila Olympiad of 1992, being the only Filipino of the 18 fielded in three teams—to win a medal: silver on first reserve board.

He won seven of eight games, with a performance rating of 85.7 per cent. And most of his games sparkled during those days of glory.

Eric Gloria PHI2 (2235) - Abdullah Abdul Rahman UAE
Rd. 2, 30th Olympiad, PICC, Manila, June 9, 1992
King’s Indian, Four Pawns Attack (E76)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0–0 6.Nf3 Na6 7.Be2 e5 Missing the equalizer, 7...c5 8.0–0 8.fxe5 dxe5 9.d5 c6 10.Bg5 Qa5 11.Nd2 Qb6 12.Nb3 h6 12...cxd5 would be bad because of 13.cxd5 Bd7 14.Bh4! 13.Bh4 h5 Fritz says 13...cxd5 may be better, e.g., 14.cxd5 Bd7 14.c5 Gaining a clear edge Nxc5 15.Bf2 Nfd7 16.0–0 Qb4 17.Nxc5 17.dxc6! was stronger, e.g., 17…bxc6 18.Qd6, with a big lead Nxc5 18.a3!

A tactical finesse that wins material and tempi, as we shall soon see.
18…Qxb2 19.Bxc5 Qxc3 20.Rc1 The point Qa5 21.Bxf8 Bxf8 22.dxc6 bxc6? Stronger was 22...Bxa3 23.Ra1 bxc6! 23.Bc4! Be6? 23...Bg4 won’t alter the course of the game, e.g., 24.Qc2 Bxa3 25.Rxf7 Qc5+ 26.Kh1, with great advantage to White 24.Bxe6 Qb6+? Better but not enough was 24...fxe6 25.Qd7 Bc5+ 26.Kh1 Rf8 25.Kh1 fxe6 26.Qd7 Qe3 27.Qb7! If 27…Rd8 28.Qf7+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kh7 30.Qxd8! 1–0

Eric Gloria PHI2 (2235) – Aleksander Wohl AUS (2280)
Rd. 6, 30th Olympiad, PICC Manila, June 14, 1992
Classical Nimzo-Indian (E33)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Qxc3 0–0 7...Ne4 8.Qc2 f5 9.e3 should equalize 8.g3 e5 9.Bg2 Re8 10.d5 Ne7 11.0–0 h6 12.b4 b5 13.Nxe5! bxc4 14.Nxc4 Nexd5 15.Qd3 c6 16.e4 Ba6 6...Nc7 may be better: 17.Nxd6 Ba6, minimizing White’s lead 17.exd5! White surges ahead cxd5 18.Bxd5 Qc7 19.b5 Stronger was 19.Bxa8, e.g., 19…Bxc4 20.Qc3 Rxa8 21.Bxh6, with a big lead Bxb5 20.Bxa8 Bxc4 21.Qc2 Rxa8 22.Bb2 Rc8 23.Rfc1 Qd7 24.Bxf6!

After 24.Bxf6!
Smashing Black’s pawn shield.
24…gxf6 25.Qe4 d5 26.Qf4 Kg7 27.Rd1 Rc6 28.Rac1 Qe7 29.Qg4+ Kf8 30.Rb1 Rb6 31.Rxb6 axb6 32.Qf4 Kg7 33.Qe3 Qe6 34.Rd4 Qh3 35.Qc1 Qf5 36.h3 Be2 37.Rf4 Qe5 Of course not 37...Qxh3?? because of 38.Rh4 Qf1+ 39.Qxf1 Bxf1 40.Kxf1 38.Qd2 Bh5 39.Qd4 Bg6 40.Qxe5 fxe5 41.Rb4 Bf5 42.g4 Be4 43.Rxb6 d4 44.f4 44.a4 was more decisive f6 45.fxe5 fxe5 46.Re6! It’s all over, e.g., 46…Bc2 47.Kf2! 1–0


RP to kick off Asean 5 Grand Prix open events

THE Philippines will launch the Asean Five Grand Prix with a two-tier open tournament in November.

This was announced in Jakarta by the Indonesian Chess Association (Percasi) soon after the Asean Age-Group Championships in Thailand.

Percasi said five members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) agreed on an open Grand Prix at a meeting in Pattaya.

Besides the Philippines and Asia, the other Grand Prix members are Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

The Philippine Open will have two divisions—one for players rated 2100 and above and the other for those rated below 2100.

The second leg will be held in Indonesia in January. It will have three levels—for grandmasters, international masters and women international masters.

The Grand Prix will consist of open tournaments, said Percasi executive director Eka Putra Wirya.

Revive NCFP website first!

GLAD to know that former Congressman Prospero “Butch” Pichay has resumed discharging his duties as NCFP president and that he is pushing through with the annual tournament in memory of his late father next month. Now that he is back from the snake pit that is Pinoy politics, he should first revive the NCFP website!


I FIND it rather embarrassing to admit that I had to rely on the Vietnamese website for the actual results of the recent Asean Age-Group held in Pattaya, Thailand, and not that of the Asean Confederation, of which NCFP boss Pichay is the first deputy president. What are our technical experts doing about it?


ANY sports promotion needs media support and in this age of cyber technology, the World Wide Web has become the primary means of mass communication. I blame the previous NCFP leadership for not maintaining its original website in the Asean portal, which has been languishing there for the past seven years.


LACK of funding cannot be an acceptable excuse from the NCFP leadership for its utter neglect of the new NCFP website, in the face of a costly poll campaign. As of this writing, it says that it was last updated on May 11, three days before Election Day. That was more than one and a half months ago!


WHAT will happen now to Chessmates? And how about that excellent vehicle for chess promotion in the grassroots, the Pichay Chess Caravan? Will that also die a natural death as did many of the federation’s projects in the past? And yet we complain of being left behind by our neighbors like Vietnam and Singapore!


READER Emmanuel Marbella has written to thank me on behalf of the Filipino Chess Players League of the United Arab Emirates. The FCPL has posted The Weekender on “Happy anniversary to The Weekender and we wish you all the best!” the FCPL secretary general wrote.


FINALLY, I have received the database containing games from the Philippine International Open at Subic Freeport, which was held in April. My thanks to Pat Lee and the rest of the staff at the NCFP headquarters. Pat and Ilann Perez are the tireless workhorses of the federation. May their tribe increase!


I WISH to acknowledge, too, the invaluable help given me by NM and IA Erwin Carag, coach of Shell NCR junior champion M.J. Turqueza and other players from the Diliman Preparatory School. Carag interviewed the Shell NCR winners on my behalf.


MY apology to readers for occasional slips that the Weekender has had lately. One example was Pattaya being spelled Payatta, and the CAAP Non-masters scheduled for today was wrongly reported as set for last Sunday. My apology to GMs Torre and Antonio for including them among those Wesley had beaten in the 2006 Pichay Cup Nationals. They didn’t take part.


Chess quote: “You cannot play chess if you are kind-hearted” -
French proverb

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