Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Inside Philippine Chess

Back in Queenstown, I had the good fortune of meeting IM Tibor Karolyi. I just had to buy his work, "Judit Polgar - The Princess of Chess", and he happily signed it for me. One must be careful when reading this work and to treat it merely as a collection of games. There are extensive and apparently original analysis.

However, the book has been criticised for being flawed particularly since Karolyi had not actually bothered to consult with his subject - Judit Polgar. Karolyi even gives the wrong date of birth for Judit! And there are those "ugh" moments like this little gem: "Judit does play chess like a man, but she has a disadvantage. As a woman, it must be hard to fight at full capacity at certain stages of her monthly cycle - but she does it".

For it's strange English and lengthy analysis, it's sometimes difficult reading this book. And so, it was with some happiness that I laid my hands on another book yesterday afternoon.

Waiting for me at home was a special gift from the world's best chess columnist, Bobby Ang. He had sent it to me from the Philippines. It is his 2000 work, "Inside Philippine Chess". It is only proper for me, then, to say "Salamat po'!"

The book is a collection of Bobby's articles that appeared in Business World between 1998-99. While being mainly a record of Pinoy chess, we do swing from topic to topic. There is a whole subsection on Fischer and one on computers. The front cover says, "book one" which seems to suggest that there is a book two or three and so on. I cannot wait to read the next edition!

I must make an admission: I am quite envious of Mr Ang. Not only is he a superb writer, he is also the husband of a perfect wife. From the introduction:

I will start off this book by talking about my wife, Dr. Anne Tan-Ang, a medical doctor (obstetrician-gynaecologist) with clinic at the Chinese General Hospital. She is the perfect wife: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent (no, she is not a boy scout). One trait which is particularly appealing in her is that she has been fully supportive of my chess.

From a purely chessic point of view, it is that last which is most important. But to Bobby's list, I will add some little extras - like big hips, culinary skills and certain other things. (So you see, I'm already distracted. No wonder I play so badly).

Naturally, I have only quickly scanned this book, yet already, I can tell it's one of those unputdownable ones that will occupy me for the next couple of days. If you are a lover of Philippines chess or just chess in general, I'd recommend buying this book.

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