Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Philippine Battle of the Grandmasters

by Marlon Bernardino

GM Wesley So took the scalped of FM Fernie Donguines after 48 moves of a Sicilian Defense using the black pieces to remain on top after the sixth round late Tuesday in the ongoing Philippine Battle of the Grandmasters at the 11th floor City State Hotel in Mabini.

The 14-year-old So who held into a draw with NM Nouri Hamed after 30 moves of a Reti Opening in the fifth round on Monday notch 5.0 points on account of 4 wins and 2 draws in six outings. He is schedule to meet today IM Rolando Nolte for the seventh round.

"Mahirap pa pong magsalita basta gagawin ko lamang ang aking best," said So when this writer asked him if he can win the and the top prize of P200,000.

"Masuwerte ako ngayon," added So, who had an Elo rating of 2540 in the April 1, 2008 FIDE list and expect to going up because of the impressive performance in the past, winning the tough Dubai Open Chess and beat Indon GM Susanto Megaranto in their one-on-one duel.

So increase his 2540 Elo rating to 2561 Elo rating points because of his impressive performance in Dubai and Jakarta.

Meanwhile, GM Eugene Torre continues his impressive showing by beating fellow GM Bong Villamayor after 40 moves of a Pirc Defense last night. kagabi.

Torre is coming a draw with IM Rolando Nolte after 43 moves of a Gruenfeld Defense in the fifth round.Torre now has 4.5 points, the same output of IM John Paul Gomez to tie at 2nd to 3rd placers.

Despite Gomez bowed to Donguines in the fifth round after 117 moves of an Owens Defense, Gomez bounce back in contention by trouncing IM Julio Catalino Sadorra after 32 moves of a Caro-Kann Defense.

In other matches saw (sixth round), Nolte beat Hamed; IM Richard Bitoon disposed GM Jayson Gonzales, while IM Oliver Barbosa split the point with GM Rogelio Antonio Jr.Battle of GrandmastersRank after round 6


1 GM So, Wesley 2540 5
2 GM Torre, Eugene 2519 4½
3 IM Gomez, John Paul 2464 4½
4 IM Bitoon, Richard 2420 4
5 FM Donguines, Fernie 2362 3½
6 GM Antonio, Rogelio Jr. 2529 3½
7 Nolte, Rolando 2420 3
8 Nouri, Hamed 2392 2
9 Barbosa, Oliver 2403 2
10 GM Villamayor, Buenaventura 2425 1½
11 IM Sadorra, Julio Catalino 2455 1½
12 GM Gonzales, Jayson 2468 1


1 Cua, Shercila 2203 5
2 Jose, Rulp Ylem 2044 5
3 Perena, Catherine 2234 5
4 Cua, Sherily 2132 3½
5 Salvador, Aices 1999 3
6 Bernales, Christy Lamiel 1934 3
7 Magno, Enerose 2169 2½
8 Camacho, Charine Cheradee 2106 2½
9 WIM Mendoza, Beverly 2072 2
10 Cunanan, Kimberly Jane 1939 1½
11 Palomo, Jenny Rose 0 1½
12 Docena, Jedara 1973 1½


Monday, April 21, 2008

Wesley So, a world chess champion
By K.R. Nayar, Gulf News Senior Reporter

Published: April 19, 2008, 00:33

Wesley So is the rising star in the world of chess. The youngest Grandmaster at the moment, he enthralled chess lovers in the UAE with a sterling performance to walk away with the ten-year-old Dubai Open Chess tournament crown last week.

Fourteen-year-old So, with his boyish smile, hardly comes across as a Grandmaster. Most of his friends in the Filipino Chess Club in Dubai were there to cheer him almost every day.

"I am very happy to win. Frankly, I did not expect to go all the way. All I wanted to do was to pick up more points. This is my first major title victory and I will cherish it forever," So told Gulf News soon after the win.

So is the second child of chess lovers William and Eleanor. William was a schoolbus driver till he decided to quit his job and back his talented son. He now travels with him all around the world while Eleanor works as an accounts controller in a university and brings home a steady income.

"It is hard to meet the huge travel expenses, but the Philippines Chess Federation president Prospero Pichay, who is very supportive of So's talent, helps him with his travel expenses, thus enabling him to play in big tournaments. It is his personal encouragement that has helped So achieve some great victories at the international level," says William.

So is extremely thankful to Pichay. "When I was leaving for Dubai, he asked me to remember two things: try to avoid making early mistakes and then fight for victory in every game. He also warned me never to be bothered about my opponent's rating and play my natural game. I followed his advice when I played top players and it did help me a lot," he said.

Rapid strides

It was obvious that the first person So called immediately after his victory was Pichay.
"I told him that I have achieved what he wanted me to do and he felt so happy," he said.
This is So's second visit to Dubai.

"When I participated in this tournament in 2006, I did not perform well and managed just five points. Today, I am so delighted because I must have added another 15 points to my rating. This tournament will always remain special for me and I will return again next year to defend my title," said So, who also thanked the huge Filipino community in Dubai.

"Every day, members of the Flipino Chess Club in Dubai came to cheer me up. I am so thankful to them for their tremendous support that gave me confidence. In fact, they also sponsored my hotel stay here and I am happy that I could make make them proud."

Fellow feeling

Long wait ends for Filipino community

"We waited for a whole decade for a Filipino to win the Dubai Open and we are proud that a 14-year-old boy has done it for us," remarked Joey Tiberio, events manager of the Filipino Chess Club in Dubai.

"So will inspire a large number of youngsters in the UAE to bring glory. We already have a promising youngster in 13-year-old Axel Valario here. The number will soon increase as So has shown them that we are capable of beating any top player if we have the determination," added Tiberio.

"We practice every evening at the Reef Mall and our strength is growing by the day. It will be a great feeling when So will one day go on to become a world champion."

So's father William is also delighted with the support of the Filipino community in Dubai. "Chess does not attract much support in the Philippines. Whatever So has achieved is purely due to Prospero Pichay, an ardent chess fan who is the president of the Philippines Chess Federation. Although So's achievement, by becoming a young GM, has inspired many youngsters, the game has a long way to go," said William.

The vast number of Filipino ex-pats have been keen followers of basketball here all along. Now, So's success may open other options for them.


Please click here to watch ABS-CBN / TV Patrol's coverage on GM Wesley So


by Marlon Bernardino

Final Standings: six games Fide rated one-on-one duel
4.0 points---GM Wesley So (2540, Philippines)
2.0 points---GM Susanto Megaranto (2561, Indonesia)

Final Standings:Woman Grandmaster Tournament, six player's double round-robin format, Rating Average: 2317, WGM Norm: 6.5 points while WIM Norm: 4.5 points
7.0 points---WGM Li Ruofan (2423, Singapore)
6.5 points--- WGM Regina Pokorna (2352, Slovakia)
6.0 points---WIM Irine Kharisma Sukandar (2243, Indonesia)
5.0 points---WGM Jana Krivec (2362, Slovenia)
4.5 points---WNM Catherine Pereña (2234, Philippines)
1.0 point---WFM Thandar Aye Win (2291, Myanmar)

FILIPINOS Wesley So (2540) and Catherine Pereña (2234) took different route at the conclusion of Japfa Chess Festival 2008 being held at the Indonesian Sports Council Hall in Jakarta, Indonesia, over the weekend.

So, 14, settled for a fighting draw to fellow grandmaster (GM) Indon ace Susanto Megaranto (2561) in their Game 6 match after 67 moves of a Sicilian Defense using the black pieces to finish with a total of 4.0 points on account of three wins, two draws and one loss besting Megaranto's 2.0 points output on one win, two draws and three loses in their six games Fide rated one-on-one duel.

So, added 15 Elo rating points for winning the tough Dubai Chess Cup a week ago is expected to increase and gain more Elo rating points after a stunning wins over Megaranto.

It shall be recalled that GM Rogelio "Joey" Antonio Jr. bested GM Edhi Handoko of Indonesia, 3.5-2.5, in their on-one-one duel was also held in Jakarta (1998) ten years ago.

GM Eugene Torre, the long-time RP vanguard also beat Megaranto, 2.5-1.5, in the last year's edition in Jakarta.

Meanwhile, after tucking Woman International Master (WIM) norm under her belt going to the final round of Woman Grandmaster Tournament, The Caloocan City-based Pereña bowed his last round match to WGM Regina Pokorna (2352) of Slovakia after 34 moves of a Bishop Opening using the black pieces to finish at fifth placers with 4.5 points.

Tournament favorites WGM Li Ruofan (2423) of Singapore blasted WFM Thandar Aye Win (2291) of Myanmar after 27 moves of a Slav Defense using the white pieces to emerge over-all champion with 7.0 points.

The RP woodpushers campaign (who is schedule to arrive the country yesterday) would be possible with the undying support of NCFP president Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr., NCFP secretary-general Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino Jr., Filway Marketings Inc. CEO/ President Hector "Chito" Tagaysay and businessman Reginald Tee.


Theres The Rub - Time out
by Conrado de Quiros/Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines - It’s not really that we don’t have alternatives, it’s simply that for the strangest reasons we somehow cannot see them. This time around though I don’t mean that in the political sense, I mean that in the sports sense.

Case in point is the Dubai Chess Open that ended early last week. That tournament drew a fairly tough field: 131 contestants from 25 countries and a score of grandmasters. For a couple of weeks, the gladiators battled it out on the board—if you’ve ever played the game, you know that isn’t an exaggeration, even if, or precisely because, the gladiatorial combat takes place in the mind. When the smoke cleared, a champion emerged. That champion was a Filipino. His name is Wesley So.At first blush his feat might not rank along with Eugene Torre becoming the first-ever Asian grandmaster in 1973 or Torre beating then reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov in a game when he came here in 1976. But that is only at first blush.

At second blush, it is an astonishing accomplishment. That’s so because Wesley So is 14 years old! He is the seventh youngest person in the world to have earned a GM norm. He is currently the world’s youngest grandmaster.

So why aren’t we jumping for joy? Why aren’t we dancing in the streets? You tell me.

We have in our midst a chess phenomenon, someone who doesn’t just have world-class potential—that potential has already unraveled—but vast possibilities. What So can do over the next few years with a little help from his friends, well, the world is there for the taking. It’s the little help from his friends that’s problematic.

I read and saw the item about his Dubai victory in the papers and TV last week, but it was only one of several sports stories. For the next couple of days after that, I looked for follow-up stories, for some sidelights about the tournament, for some interviews from him, for some peeks into his personal life, but ... nothing.

When Manny Pacquiao wins over even obscure opponents, it gets front-page treatment in newspapers or lands among the top stories on TV. It gets to run for days, the public regaled with every detail from the ads on his shorts to what he ate before the fight. On the occasion that he fights abroad, he comes home to a welcoming parade and confetti. Legislators propose to add to his already fat purse and even cite him for heroism. The youngest GM in the world wins a major international tournament and he comes home only to the welcoming embrace of his family and friends.

There are only three sports we have achieved world-class status in. Those are boxing, billiards and chess. We have Pacquaio and Flash Elorde in boxing, Pacquiao being arguably the more illustrious. As a friend said, he must be the most hated person in all of Mexico. We have Bata Reyes and Django Bustamante in billiards. Though Reyes’ game has dipped over the last several years, he still commands awe and fondness when he plays. And we have Torre and now So in chess. Unfortunately for chess, only boxing and billiards have gotten the attention and support they deserve.

Public officials troop all the way to Las Vegas to boost Pacquiao’s morale (and income). Several private groups and individuals are backing our billiards bets and provide them if not with kingly accommodations at least with commodious ones when they compete abroad. Chess players have to beg for their fare money and make do with barely livable lodgings. Half the time they’re freezing their butts off while pushing wood in the cold countries where chess as much as football sets people afire.

Surely we can throw some help their way? Just divert a portion of the money given to basketball to chess and it’ll go a long way. Hell, forget a portion, give it all to chess. It’s the better investment. We have not, and we will never, get anywhere in basketball, we will only offer the spectacle of self-flagellation. But we have managed to secure a niche in world chess, and can enlarge it. In basketball, height is might, in chess brain is grain, even if that sounds pilit. We do not have the height, but we have the brain. Or at least some of us do.

It’s simply not true that chess is far too esoteric a game to turn into a national pastime, which is the only way we can develop a pool from which to draw future talents. It did become so, or nearly so, in the 1970s as a result of the exploits of Bobby Fischer, who captured our imagination, and later Torre. And it got some support from government, Marcos being anxious to limn the rust of his tin-pot rule with the glitter of the Royal Game. We even had TV shows that featured analyses of tournaments. By the end of the decade, however, both government and the private sector turned their attention to basketball, which had become exceedingly popular. And chess fell back into obscurity.

That our chess players have risen to these heights amid the greatest adversity, it’s a lesson in heroism. Life will never checkmate them. But it’s a shame for us to allow this to continue. Surely we can give them the attention they deserve? Surely we can give them the accolade they’ve earned? Surely we can give them the support they need?

Between boxing, billiards and chess, it’s a no-brainer which sport can give this country more prestige. As one grandmaster said, evaluating the importance of chess: There are only two kinds of games—chess and all others. I doubt anyone will ever be remembered for saying, “There are only two kinds of Filipino passions—basketball and all others.”

The title of this column is “Time out,” but it should really be “Time in.” The shabby way we treat chess and chess players in this country says something more than our low sports IQ. Which is: Truly, we do not lack for accomplishments and alternatives, we just can’t seem to see them.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Wild, wild Wesley on fire versus Indon GM

So rules Dubai Chess Open ahead of over 20 grandmasters
By Jobannie C. Tabada, 14 April 2008

Wesley So captured his first major international title in his young chess career after the Filipino whiz kid was crowned champion in the 10th Dubai Chess Open following the final-round matches Monday at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

The 14-year-old grandmaster from Bacoor, Cavite tallied a total of seven points after settling for a draw with China's GM Li Chao in the final round of the nine-round Swiss system event, which featured over 130 players, including 23 GMs, 19 international masters, six WGMs, three WIMs, 17 Fide Masters and several top-rated players from 25 countries.

So actually figured in a four-way tie with Li, Georgia's GM Merab Gagunashvili and Iran's GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, but emerged with the highest tiebreak score to secure the Sheikh Rashed Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup staked in the tournament.

Gagunashvili secured second place, Maghami was third, while Li wound up fourth. GM Abhijeet Gupta (India), GM Yuri Drozdovski (Ukraine), IM RR Laxman (India), GM Valeriy Neverov (Ukraine), GM David Arutinian (Georgia) and Azerbaijan grandmasters Rasul Ibrahinov, top-seed Gadir Guseinov and Sarhan Guliev scored 6.5 points each for joint fifth to 12th places.

Defending champion GM Levan Pantsulaia of Georgia, who lost to So in the third round, had a disappointing finish with 4.5 points to occupy the 57th position in the final rankings.

"Although we did not expect this kind of performance from Wesley, it shows that his perseverance and dedication to his training regimen has paid off," said Wesley's father William, who accompanied the young champion in his Dubai campaign. "Also, Dubai has been a very special place for us because of the overwhelming support we have received from the Filipino Chess Players League and the Filipino community in general. In all the places we have been, Dubai has been the most memorable because of the very warm reception we have received, which we have not experienced elsewhere."

So, currently the world's youngest international chess grandmaster, became the first Filipino to rule the tournament, which has been reputed as one of the toughest annual events in Asia, wherein some of the most prominent figures in chess have previously taken part such as Norwegian teenage sensation GM Magnus Carlsen, among others.

So received his prize from officials of the UAE Chess Federation and the International Chess Federation (Fide) during the awarding rites held Tuesday night at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club. A sizeable Filipino delegation also attended the ceremonies, led by Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Libran Cabactulan and Filipino Chess Players League's officials Joey Tiberio, Ernesto Yap and Jerry Lababo.

A busy schedule awaits So following his successful campaign in Dubai as he is scheduled to play a six-game match against Indonesia's rising star Susanto Megaranto, which has been tentatively set to start tomorrow. He will then fly back to the Manila to compete in the Battle of Grandmasters, a closed tournament featuring the country's grandmasters and selected top-ranked players.

Meanwhile, International Master Julio Catalino Sadorra, who is set to compete in the Battle of Grandmasters, wound up with five points after winning his final-round game against FM Hossein Mohamed of UAE, while Jobannie Tabada likewise had five points after a victory over India's C. Natarajan.

FM Antonio Molina Sr. and Ernest Yap had 4.5 points each, while National Master Robert Arellano, who arrived late in almost every round due to conflicting work schedule, managed just 3.5 points. FM Molina drew with WGM Zhang Jilin of China, Yap defeated Germany's Stefan Schmid, while Arellano lost to WGM Aarthie Ramaswamy of India.

********************************************************************************** Please click here to watch ABS-CBN / TV Patrol's coverage on GM Wesley So **********************************************************************************

Four Players Tie for First with 7 Points
Wesely So Won The Cup

Arab Fide reports

The world's youngest Grandmaster, 14-year-old Wesley So of the Philippines won the Dubai Open with 7 points out of 9 rounds. The Filipino tied with GMs Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia, Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran and Li Chao of China but prevailed in the tie break of higher average opponent rating. Eight other players tied with 6.5 points each.

Wesley received a congratulatory telephone call from National Chess Federation of the Philippines President Prospero Pichay. He continues to Indonesia for a match with their champion, GM Megaranto Susanto before returning home to the Philippines for a Battle of Philippine Grandmasters.

Local hero FIDE Master Salem Abdulrahman Saleh, Asian under-14 champion, clinched his first GM norm with one round to spare.

Photographs of visiting Filipino Chess Superstars , GM Wesley So and IM Julio Catalino Sadorra, together with the UAE based Filipino Chess Players League, for their apparent support and hospitality. GM Eugene Torre was coincidentally in Dubai on business and has supported GM So and IM Sadorra on their conquest of the 10th Dubai Chess Championshp crown.

Congratulations to GM Wesley So and IM Ino Sadorra, from the Filipino Chess Players League!

Ino greets by FCPL members on his arrival at Dubai Airport

So captures third in Dubai blitz
by Jobannie Tabada

Grandmaster Wesley So continued to showcase his chess prowess in Dubai after he secured the third spot in Friday's Dubai Blitz Open 2008 at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club.

The 14-year-old high school sophomore from Cavite finished with seven points in the nine-round Swiss system tournament after a final-round draw with top-seed and eventual champion GM Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan. Guseinov had 7.5 points in a tie with Ukrain's GM Yuri Drozdovski, who won his final assignment against Armenia's GM Tigran Kotanjian. Guseinov won the title with a superior tiebreak score.

So had an unbeaten run in a tough field that included 18 grandmasters, 10 international masters, a woman grandmaster and 10 Fide Masters, highlighting his solid performance in five-minute speed chess with a repeat victory over World Junior Champion Ahmed Adly of Egypt and a penultimate-round win over China's GM Li Chao, the reigning PGMA Cup champion.

So actually finished in a tie with GM Sarhan Guliev of Azerbaijan, but the Filipino emerged third with a superior tiebreak score.

The rest of the top 10 players: Li, FM MA Soozankar (Iran), Omid Noroozi (Iran), Kotanjian, Zou Weiqi (China) and IM RR Laxman (India).

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Wesley So becomes youngest player to top RP rankings; Sadorra, FCPL stalwarts join Pinoy whiz kid in 10th Dubai Open
Jobannie C Tabada, 6 April 2008

Wesley So, currently the world's youngest international chess grandmaster, has achieved another important milestone when he became the Philippines' No. 1-ranked player, according to International Chess Federation's (FIDE) new rating list which was released on April 1.

The 14-year-old whiz kid dislodged the country's erstwhile No. 1 player, GM Rogelio "Joey" Antonio, who dropped to third as his rating remained unchanged at 2529 since the January 2008 edition of the FIDE rating list. Moving up to second place from third is former RP No. 1 GM Mark Paragua (2537), who recorded his biggest gain in rating points in two years to rebound from a sharp decline that followed his meteoric rise to the world's elite crop of "supergrandmaster" in the 2006.

So's top ranking breaks the monotony in RP's chess hierarchy, whose No. 1 position had in the past several years changed hands among only three players: Antonio, Paragua and former long-time RP No.1 GM Eugene Torre.

Earning a modest 13.8 points from the 3rd Pichay Cup International Open in Manila late last year, where he secured his third and final GM norm, and the 1st Leg of the Asian Circuit in Indonesia early this year, So, who previously occupied the second spot, hiked his Fide rating to a new personal best 2540, making him the youngest player ever to hold the distinction of RP No. 1.

His elevation to the pinnacle of RP chess has been part of a series of groundbreaking performances for the past two years. In 2006, at the tender age of 12, So became the youngest chess Olympian to join the RP Men's Team to the 37th World Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy. In December of the same year, he also became the country's youngest National Open Champion, and in May 2007, he succeeded in becoming the youngest National Junior Champion.

Aside from being the current youngest grandmaster, So is also the seventh youngest to have achieved the title in chess history when he completed the required three GM norms at the age of 14 years, one month and 28 days.

In his first outing since becoming the country's No. 1, So will be competing against a field that includes over 20 grandmasters and a battery of IMs in the 10th Dubai Chess Open, which will commence today at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club in Dubai, UAE.

It will be So's second campaign in Dubai after a highly successful debut in 2006, which saw the then 12-year-old Fide Master claim his first IM norm. So will join Singapore-based IM Julio Catalino Sadorra, who is seeking his second GM norm in the Dubai event.

So arrived with his father William in Dubai at 3:30 this morning, while Sadorra flew in at midnight. They were welcomed at the airport by a delegation from the Filipino Chess Players League-UAE, which consisted of Joey Tibertio, Emman Marbella, Jerry Lababo, Ernie Yap, Willie Laceste and Francis Aldeguer, along with Fide Ratings Administrator Casto "Toti" Abundo, who in coordination with the FCPL facilitated the visiting players' requirements in the UAE.

The visiting Filipinos are now staying at the flat of FCPL member Jerry Lababo, Manager of Pag-ibig Fund Philippines in Dubai, who generously offered to help despite the short notice.

Apart from So and Sadorra, members of the FCPL will also be participating in the annual chess tournament, led by Fide Master Antonio Molina Sr. and former UST stalwart National Master Robert Arellano. Also competing are FCPL President Ernesto Yap, Rafael Natividad, Gilbert Taopa and Jobannie Tabada.

Meanwhile, the new rating list also saw IM Joseph Sanchez finally break the elusive 2500 barrier when he posted a rating of 2507 to place fifth in the list. The France-based Cebuano joins the four GMs and IM Rogelio "Banjo" Barcenilla (2503), who has been delisted from the official list because of inactivity, as the only Filipino players with ratings over 2500. Cebu's former child prodigy IM Enrico Sevillano is rated 2508 but the US-based former Asian Junior Champion and RP Champion now plays under the banner of the US Chess Federation.

The rest of the top 10 players in the RP list are GM Darwin Laylo (2496), IM Oliver Dimakiling (2479), GM-elect Jayson Gonzales (2467), IM John Paul Gomez (2464) and IM Idelfonso Datu (2457). The rest of the list of top 100 Filipino players can be found on this link (click

The FCPL likewise produced new entries to the Fide ratings list, which included Jobannie Tabada (2057), Robert Arellano (2023), Rafael Natividad (2012), Gilbert Taopa (2001), Emmanuel Marbella (1970), Francis Aldeguer (1970), Rolly Arlante (1958), Marcelo Payoket (1889), Mario Alfonso (1871), Joey Tiberio (1816) and Lino Fabrigas (1760). FCPL members who already have Fide ratings are Fide Master Antonio Molina Sr. (2150), Danny Baltazar (2068), Ernesto Yap (2038), Augusto Marcial (2030), Antonio Marbella (1993), Antonio Molina Jr. (1972), Abdulla Tato (1948), and Axel John Valerio (1851).

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