Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Differences Between Men and Women

Is there a difference between men and women in chess playing ability? Why is it that there are fewer women grandmasters today than men? Writing in the Journal of Psychological Science, researchers Christopher F. Chabris and Mark E. Glickman examined USCF match and player data spanning 13 years - from 1992 to 2004 - to address exactly these questions. The researchers came to some interesting observation including this one:

Finally, we addressed the participation-rate hypothesis. If in the general population the number of boys who play chess is substantially larger than the number of girls, the best ones ultimately becoming USCF members and playing competitively, then it follows statistically that the average boys' ratings will be higher than the average girls' ratings (among competitive players) even if the distribution of abilities in the general population is the same (Charness & Gerchak, 1996; Glickman & Chabris, 1996). In fact, far fewer girls than boys enter competitive chess, which suggests that the general population of chess-playing girls is much smaller than that of boys. External factors like the relative lack of female role models among the world's top players and the prospect of playing a game dominated by boys may be discouraging to girls (or their parents), either directly reducing their likelihood of learning how to play in the first place or indirectly reducing their initial performance in competitive play via test anxiety or stereotype threat (Steele, 1997). Thus, it is possible that, on average, girls have the chess-relevant cognitive abilities, but the larger number of boys playing chess leads to significantly higher male ratings in the USCF population.

Jake Young of the Pure Pedantry blog has a nice and succinct summary of the report.

Gene Nakauchi: Junior U12 Champ

From the Herald Sun:

Gene, 11, says he will win so he smiles, but he's not yet sure if the Gene Nakauchi manipulating the white chess pieces will outsmart the Gene Nakauchi manipulating the black chess pieces or vice versa.

Chess has been a lot like that for the Gold Coast boy -- lots of winning and smiling -- but it hasn't always been that way.

Gene is autistic. Born in Australia to Japanese parents, English is a second language.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's a Chessabit?

There is a chess competition in London that I wish had a Sydney equivalent. It's called "Chessabit". Actually, it's a group 4 chess lovers who, one day, presumably in some less than sober state, came up with "the idea of organizing little tournaments for friends, just for fun, in bars around Central London".

From their website:

We have been holding tournaments for about a year now, and have been advertising our project quite extensively, so that the players now are not only our friends or passers-by, but people which responded to our ads. Everybody has been enjoying themselves, first and foremost us and after all, why not? It’s been all about playing Chess, having a drink, and making friends with the people that kept coming constantly to our events.

A brilliant idea!

The guys just held their third Rapidplay event and we're very glad for our fellow blogger, Tom Chivers of the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club blog, who took third place. Next time I'm in London, I'm definitely signing up for one of these.

The closest we come to a Chessabit in Sydney are our long nights, playing blitz and surrounded by dancers with hip hop blaring through the loudspeakers, in the Spanish Club, usually on Fridays. Two weeks ago, I had to leave at 2AM. But a couple of my friends, including Jelle Marechal, founder of Get A Life, stayed til bloody 4AM!

Danailov: FIDE Are Satanists

The guy just can't hold his tongue. With a talent for theatrics, Veselin Topalov's manager, Silvio Danailov, now likens FIDE's decision to reject their challenge bid as being like Satanism! Outrageous, Danailov says.

So, the Topalov camp is off to court. quotes Danailov: "We will take this to the Lausanne Court of Arbitration for Sport...We will file a complaint as soon as we go through the decision of FIDE Presidential Board and see what their motives are".

And speaking of Satanists, the French blog - Echecs, Cinéma, TV et DVD... Léger - spots certain uncanny similarities between Topalov and actor Bela Lugosi. Mr Lugosi was once famous for his portrayals of Dracula! (Our thanks to Boylston and The Knights of Castle Kimbark blogs for that one).

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bobby Ang on Fixing Scandal

I have been waiting for this actually and now we've finally got Bobby Ang's take on this recent scandal in RP chess. His latest Chess Piece article relies mostly on observations by Herky del Mundo, but Bobby had this to say:

I will not deny that there are incidents of players who no longer have a chance at qualification or a big prize throw their games and share in whatever prize their partner-in-crime gets. But to claim that there is a networking scheme where people throw games to one another to get a desired result is to assume an organized group is pulling the strings, calling the shots. This is ridiculous.

And then to announce the names of the suspects while they are smack in the middle of zonal competition, then it becomes obvious why these issues are coming out. Pay particular attention to the 3rd paragraph of the above commentary, and there you may see a hint of who the people are behind this.

I have said my piece, and this is the last comment you will hear from me about this “networking”.

Can it be that the "old guard" in RP chess are really doing everything they can to damage their young counterparts? Even just the thought of it truly causes disgust. On the other hand, if such a network really does exist - young or old - then I say, punish the whole lot of them!

Antic Wins Australia Day

GM Dejan Antic yesterday won the NSWCA Australia Day Weekender held at the North Sydney Leagues Club. He scored 6.5 points. Top 3 finishers were:

6.5 Antic
6.0 Bjelobrk
5.5 Bolens

A big group of 8 players ended on 5 points. Among them was IM-elect George Xie who, after losing to Paul Broekhuyse in the third round, also lost to Romy Capilitan two rounds later!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Vietnam Bid For World Youth

The World Youth Chess Championships could just be in Australia's doorstep for the 2008 edition. The Vietnamese Chess Federation has reportedly expressed an interest in hosting the event. But they will need $1 million!

From Thanh Nien News.

Paul Broekhuyse Upsets Xie

I arrived in time at the NSWCA Australia Day weekender to witness a sensational win in the third round by former ACF webmaster Paul Broekhuyse over IM-elect George Xie. Paul was quite happy about that one.

It was also good to see my old friend Romy Capilitan in this tournament. I hadn't seen him for some time. Against Neil Wright, Romy was several minutes up to Neil's last few seconds plus advantage in the position. But, amazingly, the game finished a draw. When I asked Romy why he gave his opponent such a peaceful finish, his reply was: "He's my friend."

Typical Filipino answer!

GM Dejan Antic looked to be in some trouble against Jason Hu but the visiting grandmaster eventually won. Antic, at the finish, said, "I was lucky again".

After three rounds, 4 players were leading on 3/3. These were Antic, Bjelobrk, Broekhuyse and Suttor. Sixty-two players are pariticipating in the event.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Michael Wei: New Junior Champion

He did hold his nerve in the end and today Michael Wei is the U18 Australian Junior Champion. Needing just a just draw in the last game against Andrew Brown, Michael instead came away with the full point for a total tally of 10 points from 11 games. His only blemish was a third round loss to Zhigen Wilson Lin. Well done Michael.

Christopher Wallis and Zhigen Wilson Lin, who themselves were always constantly battling for top honours, both finished on equal second with 9 points each.

In the U18 Girls event, ACT junior Emma Guo was the eventual winner with an emphatic no-loss performance with 10 points overall. She conceded 2 draws to Molly McGarity and Tamzin Oliver.

Plus, of course, we have our featured game. I'm quite fond of the Bayonet Attack (vs the KID) myself and wondered if it might have made an appearance during the event. Sure enough, there is a fine specimen - a win by Christopher Wallis on the white side over another upcoming talent, Eugene Schon.

For lovers of the Bayonet Attack, this is a welcome reprieve from Radjabov's recent clobbering of the system. See his games in Corus where the Azeri defeated no less than Shirov and Van Wely with the black pieces.

The usual information, including those very well assembled bulletins, are available from the ACTJCL's excellent website. And let me say, again, that the ACT folks have really set the benchmark for tournament coverage in this country. I am especially impressed with the speed of PGN availability. For distant spectators like myself, it's these games that are most important.

Eight Players Could Be Guilty

Business Mirror's Ian Brion reported yesterday that 8 players, not 6, could suffer action by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines for game fixing.

With Dableo on the list bared to BusinessMirror by IM Jayson Gonzales, a member of the NCFP committee, are National Master Oliver Barbosa and unranked players Dino Ballecer, Ranier Labay and Merben Roque and Woman Fide Master Sheerie Joy Lomibao and WNMs Enerose Magno and Christy Bernales.

Meanwhile The Philippine Star paper reports of calls by some players for Willie Abalos to step down from the investigating committee. It seems that Mr. Abalos allegedly has some sort of a grudge against one of the players currently under investigation.

The paper quotes an unnamed source: "Out of delicadeza, Abalos should resign as member of the group investigating the game-fixing scandal because he has a quarrel with Dableo."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Congratulations Alex Wohl

Well, as you saw in our last post - IM Alex Wohl mentioned something about a new baby. Yes the big man has just had a child. Her name is Nina and she was born on 27 November, 2006 in France. Weight was a little over 3 kilos and a height of about 49 centimetres.

Here is a picture couresy of Alex.

Nina, seen here at 7 weeks old

Alex Wohl Responds to CHESSA

This is literally hot in my inbox. International master Alex Wohl sends in his response to the Chess South Africa (CHESSA) report on the so-called "African Nightmare". For easier reading, I simply paste the whole of Alex's response below. (Text in bold are direct quotes from the CHESSA report).


I apologise for taking so long to respond but a baby and chess commitments have kept me from delivering a considered response. My happiness that CHESSA decided to investigate the event has been tempered by the conclusions drawn and measures taken. Specifically:

The Ethics Committee would however like to note that both Mr Ngubeni and GM Kogan are to be blamed for the lack of a proper written contract governing the services that GM Kogan was expected to provide and an agreement regarding remuneration.

I have been playing chess semi-professionally for more than 25 years now and have never even seen a contract. Before email most agreements were purely verbal and in all that time only once did I not get paid the agreed amount. That was by a German chess club called Starnberg and despite the lack of any written agreement I was paid when I sued based on a verbal agreement. Promises made by email are legally binding. I assume that applies to South Africa as well. The only question is whether the service was delivered.

GM Kogan also neglected to advise CHESSA of his intended visit and only approached CHESSA after the difficulties between him and Mr Ngubeni arose.

Never have I or any of my colleagues advised a chess federation of an intended visit to a chess event in any country. This statement like the previous one implies that we were at fault for what happened. Would CHESSA have advised us not to come?

It rather seems that Mr Ngubeni was over-optimistic about the prospects of raising money and, as a result of bad planning, landed in a situation where the income raised hardly covered the costs incurred.

I would like to know how you came to this conclusion. Has Mr Ngubeni provided you with a financial statement? How much income was generated and what were the costs incurred?

It is not surprising that a Grandmaster of GM Kogan's stature would resist Mr Ngubeni's efforts to dominate him.

Does this mean that since Watu Kobese and I are mere International masters we were unable to resist Mr Ngubeni´s efforts to dominate us?

Your decision to ban Mr Ngubeni for 3 years does punish him but also does nothing to compensate Arthur, Watu or myself. It also robs South Africa of a dedicated and extremely energetic organiser. This venture was not a roaring success but destroying Mr Ngubeni will also not serve any purpose. Another solution must be found or chess in South Africa will be the biggest loser.

South Africa impressed the world with the "truth and reconciliation commission". Exactly the same attitude is needed here. All party´s must participate for a successful outcome. CHESSA might try to engage Mr Ngubeni in a constructive way to provide a report on the event and compensate Arthur for his travel expenses as a start. He has stated on numerous occasions that he is prepared to do so still. Watu Kobese, of whom little mention is made, should be compensated for his work. He did the lions share of the coaching.
and was the "Ghandi" amongst us trying to keep the peace.

I personally forego any further claim as the experience of visiting South Africa has been enriching enough.

Finally I hope this response is seen as constructive and not as a personal attack on CHESSA. The office holders I know personally I hold in high regard and trust that they can handle this challenge in the interests of chess in South Africa.

Gens una sumus,

Alex Wohl.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Juniors Set for Exciting End

Can Michael Wei remain steady and win the Australian Juniors? Almost from day one his name has remained at the top and after 9 rounds he is in the solo lead with 8 points. Four players - Wallis, Lin, Ikeda and Xu - each having 7 points apiece are in hot pursuit.

In the U18 Girls section, local Emma Guo is herself also in solo 8 points with two other players, Kinder and Yu, closely behind.

I quite like this one between Lin and Wei in the seventh round. Wei lost this game but he recovered his mojo quickly by beating Joseph Nguyen and Ben Lazarus in the following rounds.

By the way, you may have missed this little tip from tournament director, Libby Smith:

We had coverage today on WIN TV (9 regional) news. Apart from interviewing some nameless organiser the story features Abbie Kanagarajah, Megan Setiabudi, Gala Huang and Thomas Feng and I think MP for Fraser Bob McMullan who opened the event.

We also had Senator Gary Humphries out to open the Problem-solving event. This went well with about 100 entries for this first-time event.

Rogers and Smerdon Win First Round

The two strongest Aussie reps, Rogers and Smerdon, won their games yesterday in the opening round of the Gibtelecom Masters tournament in Gibraltar. International master aspirant Moulthun Ly, however, lost to Pontus Carlsson (2492) and Malcolm Tredinnick was downed by Frits Obers.

Round two assignments for the Australians are:

Rogers, Ian - Sengupta, Deep
Al-Modiahki, Mohamed - Smerdon, David
Tredinnick, Malcolm - Gonzalez Nunez, Millan
Ly, Moulthun - Pettersen, Joar

We hope to be able to publish some games soon but the official site's PGN file is still empty. Understandable I suppose since the whole festival is one big event.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

GM Paragua Breaks Silence

Marlon Bernardino today submitted his latest report on the "game fixing" scandal in RP chess. Here is a portion of that report.

AFTER weeks of shying away from the issue, Grandmaster Mark Paragua finally broke his silence as he categorically denied involvement in the game-fixing controversy that has rocked the Philippine chess community.

In breaking his silence, Paragua defended himself from accusation that he, along with International Masters Ronald Dableo and Darwin Laylo, and a handful of low-ranked players connived with each other to fix the tournaments in their favor.

“Walang katotohanan ‘yan. Hinding-hindi ako nag-game fixing sa kahit na anong tournament na sinalihan ko,” blurted Paragua.

The 22-year-old former Super GM, currently the country’s top player with an Elo of 2573, said that he is willing to face the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) board to prove his innocence on the charges.

“Hindi ako natatakot humarap kahit kanino at handa akong patunayan na wala akong kasalanan sa ibinibintang nila,” he said.

“Ang alam ko kagagawan lang ‘yan ng ibang player at official na naiingit sa amin, lalo na ‘yung mga player na hindi maka-pwesto pag kasali kami sa tournament,” he added.

In the last year’s Tanauan Open, the tournament which several NCFP officials said to be where the evidence of rampant game-fixing is strong, Paragua said that he did not deliberately dropped his final round match with the eventual champion IM Chito Garma.

“Talagang tinalo kami ni Garma dahil ang ganda talaga ng nilalaro niya nun. Kahit ng sina (GMs) Eugene (Torre) and Joey (Antonio) ay tinalo n’ya at si (Richard) Bitoon lang ang nakatabla sa kanya.” said the Quezon City based woodpusher.

“So kung sinasabi nilang may game-fixing na nangyari dun bakit kami lang ang iniimbetigahan, bakit hindi nila din imbestigahan ‘yung iba na tinalo ni Garma,” he explained.

Apologies in advance to our English-only readers. But basically, Paragua says that he's ready to face his accusers and prove his innocence. The grandmaster also emphatically asserts that Chito Garma did beat him fair and square.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Singing in Chess Club

Our mate Ignacio Dee sends in this brief report on the Philippine Artists Chess Club who recently held their annual tournament. I didn't know that such a club existed.

Trust the Philippine Artists Chess Club to hold its annual chess tournament in style. It held its 28th tournament at Heritage House in Quezon City which was won by Raul Medina. The one-day tournament was capped by a mini-recital featuring US-based pianist Professor Reynaldo Reyes and opera singer Frankie Aseniero.

Reyes, who teaches at Towson University in Maryland, accompanied Aseniero and soprano Jennifer Uy, who sang arias from Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Turandot and Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades.

Aseniero sang Yours is My Heart Alone by Lehar in the original German. He also performed Bizet's Flower Song from Carmen and Stranger in Paradise, both in Tagalog.

Reyes, who graduated from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music at the age of 17, is one of the country's top pianists.

Medina's championship trophy was executed by famed wood sculptor Manuel Baldemor and presented by opera singer Fides Cuyugan Asensio during the awarding ceremony.

Thanks Iggy.

New Website for Chess Victoria

Chess Victoria has a new website. This latest version is a big improvement over the old one which, not only poorly designed, was pretty piss poor in usability. Actually while the new site is much simpler to use, it is still not up to the standard of some recent examples we've seen, as far as Aussie chess websites are concerned, especially the ones produced by the guys from the ACT. Just take a look at the ACTJCL one, for instance.

But you know, we can say as much as we like about these websites from other states, what we'd really like to see is some improvement on our own NSWCA! It's been like that for ages. Time for a change. The current look is just plain embarassing.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Torre's Win Against Topalov

One of our avid readers asked when and where Eugene Torre beat Topalov. It was in 1996 at the Yerevan Olympiad.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sport or Game? Aussie Juniors Ponder

Christopher Wallis and Michael Wei are on perfect 5 points after 5 rounds in the Australian Juniors U18 Championships. Just a half point behind is James Morris. While in the U18 Girls, Queensland's Jessica Kinder is also undefeated so far.

And if you have not seen it, see this ABC news report on the event down in Canberra. Our thanks to Goran Urosevic for bringing this to our attention and, of course, to "paxmaniac" for posting the same on YouTube.

The report mentions Anton Smirnov who is playing in the U12 section. Anton is Dr Vladimir Smirnov's son. These two sometimes pay a visit to Sydney's Hyde Park and Town Hall chess hang outs. It took a little while before Anton manage to play against some of the players. I'm not really sure about his talent yet, but with a dad like Smirnov, Anton could one day be a top junior. Let's wait and see!

Complete coverage of the Australian Juniors is available here.

Vietnamese Dominate Zone 3.3

Local players secured all three tickets for the next World Championships in Mexico to be held in September this year. Le Quang Liem and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son in the men's and Le Thanh Tu in the women's competition were the eventual winners.

RP's Nelson Mariano finished the men's event in a 4-way tie on second place with six points. Thus a round robin play off was held using a time control of 25 minutes with 10 seconds added after each move as per the regulations. Mariano could manage only 1 point in total, courtesy of draws against Dao Thien Hai and Nguyen Anh Dung. He lost to Truong Son.

According to a report by Marlon Bernardino the RP contingent are at least going back home with a couple of IM norms. These go to Oliver Barbosa and Nouri Hamed.

Here is one of Quang Liem Le's win during the event - a nice one over Eugene Torre.

Full results, tables, games and photos are available from the coverage site.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gibraltar 2007

The hunt is on again for Moulthun Ly for those master norms. He will join compatriots GM Ian Rogers, IM David Smerdon and Malcolm Tredinnick in the Masters section of the 5th Gibraltar Chess Festival. Moulthun, currently sporting a FIDE rating of 2307, needs a third IM norm. The Queensland junior earned his first in last year's World Open in the US and followed by a second one in the Essent Open.

Vietnamese GM Destroy RP

Vietnamese grandmaster Quang Liem Le is proving to be the Filipino players' nemesis at the Zone 3.3 Championships in Vietnam. Between rounds 5 and 7, he killed off the hopes of three Pinoy players beating Torre, Laylo and Dimakiling. It took the talent of GM Nelson Mariano to stop the bloodlust drawing with the Vietnamese in the eight round.

But GM Quang has surged too far ahead. He is now on 7 points while his nearest chaser, Mariano, is on 5.5 with a single round to go. Hamed Nouri, another Pinoy player, will today front up against Quang. Good luck Hamed!

Coverage site

Chess Is My Wife

Neighbours India and Pakistan seem to be in some kind of permanent combat. Cricket, Kashmir, nuclear arms - you name it - these two nations compete over just about anything with each doing everything they can to be always on par with the other. But when it comes to chess only one side is way ahead. And according to Pakistan international master Lodhi Mahmood, India is some fifty-years in front of his country. So what's a Pakistani player to do? Move to India, of course!

However, perhaps Mr Lodhi should refocus his priorities. Says he, "I am not marrying because the game needs to be devoted a lot of time. Chess is my life and my wife".

We think a woman is probably what he needs. Read more from The Hindu.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

2007 Australian Juniors

This junior championships kicked off this week with over 200 participants. Actually there are seven sections in this event including the junior rapid as well as a problem solving competition. Our international readers will be unfamiliar with most of the names but the Aussie Juniors has produced the likes of GM Ian Rogers ('76), current England resident IM John Paul Wallace ('93), IM David Smerdon ('99) and recent Australian Open winner IM Zong Yuan Zhao (2001). And in 2005, Australia's most recent blockbuster talent Moulthun Ly the was country's junior champion.

After 3 rounds of play, ten players are on a perfect score. Among these guys is the 1555-rated Alexander Buda.

The official website for the tournament has plenty of information including regular bulletins. In one of their editions they use this word that I'd never heard of before: "mawmsey". What the hec does that mean? Just this morning I was introduced to "sesquipedalian". I thought that was bad enough.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Torre in Hall of Fame

He has won many awards but now Pinoy grandmaster Eugene Torre will join the ranks of many Philippine sports legends as the Philippine Sportswriters Association elevate the man to their Hall of Fame.

Here is a little reminder of one of Torre's more recent achievements - a record attendance in the Olympiad:

Ever since gaining the GM title in 1974 during the World Chess Olympiad in Nice, France, Torre valiantly carried Philippine chess into his broad shoulders.

From 1970 to 2006, the former business administration undergraduate from Mapua donned the national colors 19 consecutive times playing in the World Chess Olympiad, now a new world record after surpassing the previous mark of 18 held by Paul Westerinen of Finland.

From the Manila Standard Today.

Monday, January 15, 2007

More Involved in Game Fixing

The NCFP expects to uncover more players who are allegedly involved in this current game fixing scandal that's gripping the chess scene in RP. Ian Brion, reporting in the Business Mirror, quotes Sammy Estimo as saying, "Yes, there are more who cropped up during the course of our investigation. But we’re still verifying the veracity of the reports."

Read more in the Business Mirror.

RP Court Acquits Campo

This is very late but I'm sure it's of some interest to some of our readers. I just didn't see this story pop up in my newsfeed. Or maybe I was out somewhere, perhaps partying or watching the cricket, as the item actually came out around about Christmas or Boxing Day last month. But I do need to thank our friend in RP Ignacio Dee for the tip.

In a decision that would have certainly disappointed his critics, ex-FIDE head Florencio Campomanes was last month acquitted by the Philippine Supreme Court because the government prosecutor used the wrong law and, therefore, failed to prove culpability!

The Supreme Court's decision reads:

The laws cited by the OSP do not sufficiently show that Campomanes is legally required to render accounts to the COA. Neither the “prosecution’s evidence” nor the Audit Report is the “law or regulation” contemplated by the Revised Penal Code. Moreover, it is error for the OSP to submit that Section 102 of Presidential Decree No. 1445 (“PD 1445”) is the law mandating the FIDE or its officers to render an accounting. Section 102 of PD 1445, read together with other Sections in Chapter 5 of PD 1445, clearly refers to “official(s) or employee(s)” who are “accountable officers” of “any government agency,”[14] and not to “non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity, directly or indirectly, from or through the Government x x x.” When it comes to subsidy or equity extended by the government to a “non-governmental entity,” the legal obligation on the part of the non-governmental entity to account for, and the power of the COA to audit, such subsidy or equity arises only if “the law or the granting institution” requires such audit as a condition for the subsidy or equity.

As gleaned from the parties’ stipulation of facts, the PSC and the FIDE entered here into a contract requiring the PSC to provide the FIDE the funds for the latter to organize the Chess Olympiad and Congress in Manila. The PSC delivered the funds to the FIDE, which apparently successfully organized the Chess Olympiad and Congress since the PSC does not claim that the FIDE failed to organize the two events. In short, the FIDE complied with its undertaking under the contract. There is no claim by the PSC or the COA that the FIDE, a foreign non-governmental entity, is obligated under the contract to render an accounting. There is also no showing that the PSC’s charter or any law or regulation requires the FIDE to render an accounting to the PSC or the COA as a condition for the receipt of funds. Clearly, this situation cannot give rise to criminal liability on the part of the FIDE’s officers under Article 222 of the Revised Penal Code which admittedly requires that there must be a “law or regulation” requiring the rendering of accounts by private individuals.

We acquit Campomanes because of the failure of the prosecution to prove all the elements of Article 218, in relation to Article 222, of the Revised Penal Code. Because of this failure, we deem it unnecessary to rule on the other issues raised by both parties.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the Decision promulgated on 31 January 2003 and the Resolution promulgated on 6 February 2004 of the Sandiganbayan. We ACQUIT Florencio B. Campomanes of the crime of failure to render accounts as defined in Article 218, in relation to Article 222, of the Revised Penal Code.

The item was reported by Jomar Canlas for the Manila Times last month.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Zone 3.3 Chess Championships

Held in the Kien Giang province in Vietnam, the Zone 3.3 Championships began last week and will end on 19 January. Six nations are represented: hosts Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Mongolia and Myanmar.

Having fallen to a FIDE rating of 2573, Mark Paragua is still the top Pinoy player at this event. He began well enough by beating a familiar name to Aussie readers - FM Dinh Duc Trong. However, in the second round, the current RP number one ran into IM Wesley So. The 13-year old posted a win against his much more experienced GM countryman.

News of being under investigation by the national federation back home for game fixing must be troubling the mind of Mark Paragua. In round 4 he dropped another point, this time to Oliver Barbosa! And then again lost to the 2256-rated Bayarsaihan Gundavaa the following round. After five games, then, Mark has the disastrous score of just 2 points.

Tables, games and photos are available at this excellent site.

Another Fischer Article

From Guyana's Stabroek News, here is another review of Bobby Fischer's extraordinary chess career.

More than anybody else Fischer seemed to know what he represented in relation to the spirit of the time. No one paid attention to chess before Fischer. When Spassky won the World Championship title in 1969, he received US$1400 as his prize money. Before his match with Spassky, Fischer let it be known that he would not play unless the purse was at least US$50,000. There was tolerant laughter. Everybody thought Fischer was out of his mind. US$50,000 for a chess match? Who on earth would be willing to put up that sum?

Read more.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Topalov Accuses FIDE of Stalling

FIDE has reportedly refused to acknowledge a bank guarantee from Veselin Topalov because the Bulgarian's bank, D-Commerce, is not one of the four banks that the international chess body recognises in Bulgaria.

Topalov's manager, Silvio Danailov, says that he is puzzled by this response. Read more from The Sofia Weekly.

Congratulations Puchen Wang

Puchen Wang is this year's New Zealand Champion after winning the 114th New Zealand Chess Congress with 9 points from 11 games. Like Zhao in the just concluded Australian Open, Wang also took a quick draw in the last round and promptly headed off the cinema with his opponent. That's according to this report by the Wanganui Chronicle.

Australia's Tim Reilly collected 6.5 points. Below is the Aussie's loss to the eventual winner.

Games and complete tables are available from the official website.

NCFP Investigating Paragua

Ian Brion's follow-up report now claims that the National Chess Federation of the Philippines is still looking for evidence against grandmaster Mark Paragua in this latest scandal that has hit Philippine chess. Brion writes:

In the case of Paragua, Estimo said it was not clear yet if he intentionally handed Garma the victory in their final round encounter in the tournament.

“But we took note na going into the last round Garma was not yet assured of the championship, as [GM] Joey Antonio was just a half-point behind him,” he explained.

“But we are also looking at other tournaments he joined where he was included among the suspects,” Estimo added of Paragua, the country’s top-rated player.

On the other hand, the Sun Star Davao newspaper reported yesterday that Davao City's chess scene is also plagued with game fixing. The paper quotes an NCFP director as saying, "Yes, game-fixing is also happening in Davao specially if the cash prize is for the top three placers only".

Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine about this and his take was rather casual. It was just down to economics he said. When money is tight, in a country like RP, what can you expect to happen? People do everything they can to get ahead. Sadly, game fixing is wrong and should be stamped out!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blog Changes

I noticed that some posts become quite "popular" fairly quickly. That is, they are heavily commented on. To make it easy for our readers to quickly locate these posts, I've added a new section to my right side bar called "Hot Posts". Any post that attracts 5 or more comments will be added here.

Over the last couple of weeks, we've had 3 such posts so far. And each one has Matthew Sweeney in it. What is it with that guy? He's even attracted the attention of an English blogger actually!

Another change to TCG is the addition of Snap. You'll notice that our external links will present you a small screenshot of the target page. Quite cool. I've gotta thank one of my fave blogs, Techcrunch (a must-read), for that one.

Games Fixing Suspects Named

This latest fiasco to hit Philippine chess is steadily gaining steam. So far, the names of those players who are under NCFP investigation have been hidden. But today, local RP paper Business Mirror apparently obtained a leak of the players' names and published them in today's report by Ian Brion.

The players under investigation, according to Business Mirror, are grandmaster Mark Paragua, IMs Ronald Dableo and Darwin Laylo, National Master Oliver Barbosa, Melvin Roque and Enerose Magno.

If found to be true, this is surely going to do some damage to RP chess just as it seems to be going through a revival, which is why we completely support harsh penalties to be imposed by the NCFP. The alleged involvement of Paragua, Dableo and Barbosa are also very concerning and surprising. I really do hope that these will remain just allegations for the sake of these guys' careers and, most importantly, for the sake of RP chess as a whole.

We are eagerly awaiting further updates from our contacts in RP. Stay tuned.

New ACF Officers

From the latest ACF newsletter, the new officials are as follows:

President: Gary Wastell
Deputy President: Bill Gletsos
Vice Presidents: Kevin Bonham; Denis Jessop
Secretary: Jey Hoole
Treasurer: Norm Greenwood

Also in this latest newsletter is a call for nominations for Australia's representatives in the FIDE Zonal to be held in Fiji. Any interested parties can find out more here.

And, by the way, while these ACF officials have so far continued to deny that Chess Chat is their "official" channel of communications, we are assured by vice president Dr Kevin Bonham, in a posting on that very bulletin board, that he doesn't "expect the political issues to cause hassles. If they do so and the event is moved to a different country then I intend to issue a fresh call for applications."

And if you think that we should boycott this event, you can forget it! Denis Jessop is even more emphatic saying, "Neither the ACF nor the NZCF has any intention of boycotting the event."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Congratulations IM Zong-Yuan Zhao

International master Zong-Yuan Zhao opted for an easy 5-mover draw against Malcolm Tredinnick in the last round to secure victory in the 2006-07 Australian Open. Zhao finished the event on 9.5 points out of 11 games.

Top finishers are:

9.5 Zhao, Zong-Yuan
9.0 Rogers, Ian
8.5 Bluvshtein, Mark; Johansen, Darryl
7.5 Antic, Dejan 7.5
7.0 Goldenberg, Igor; Tredinnick, Malcolm

More results from the official website.

Torre: I never threw a game

After our post yesterday with Pinoy legend GM Torre expressing support for NCFP's moves to investigate allegations of game fixing, it now appears that Torre himself maybe under the spotlight.

Marlon Bernardino's latest report for the Philippine Daily Inquirer quotes Torre as saying, "I have never thrown a game in my whole life.

Meanwhile it's still business as usual for the current RP number 3 (behind Paragua and Antonio). Yesterday, Torre left RP shores heading for the Asian Zonal 3.3 Chess Championships held in Vietnam. He is the spearhead of the Philippine team that includes delegation head and NCFP director Willie Abalos, GM Nelson Mariano II, IMs Wesley So, Oliver Dimakiling, Ronald Dableo, Darwin Laylo, NM Oliver Barbosa, WIM Beverly Mendoza, WFM Sheerie Joy Lomibao, WNMs Christy Bernales and Catherine Pereña.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Torre Supports NCFP Investigations

Marlon Bernardino reports that GM Eugene Torre has expressed support for the NCFP's move to investigate allegations of game fixing in RP chess tournaments.

In his latest submission to local media agencies, Marlon quotes Torre as saying, "We are supporting Cong. Pichay’s move to investigate game-fixing in chess. We just hope that it would be an honest to goodness one that no sacred cow would be spared, and it would result in the betterment of chess in the country".

Also, while the identities of those under investigation remain a secret, we know that they are a grandmaster, two IMs, two national masters, an untitled player as well a lady player.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Zhao Closer to Open Title

International master Zhao inched closer to an Australian Open title as he today outmaneuvered visiting GM Dejan Antic in their ninth round engagement. The visiting master is having one of those bumpy rides - a draw here against lower rated opposition, a win against Rogers and now a loss.

That crucial point puts Zhao on 8 points, the sole lead, and he can now happily just draw his remaining assignments to secure victory. Zhao will play Dr Vladimir Smirnov tomorrow who today scalped the head of Kiwi Hilton Bennett.

Blvhstein defeated Dusan Stojic in a sharp Najdorf Sicilian. The Canadian's extra pawn was a killer.

And Ian Rogers avenged his defeat last year, in the Doeberl Cup, to Igor Goldenberg by winning their game. GM Rogers once again closed the blinds on his opponent's hopes with a lovely Rook move.

NCFP to Investigate Game Fixing

Filipino journalist Marlon Bernardino has just submitted a news story to RP media agencies reporting that the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) will investigate allegations of game fixing by five players. Bernardino did not name the five suspects.

The story quotes NCFP executive director Sammy Estimo as saying, "The move initiated [by] our president Cong. Butch Pichay is a step in the right direction. Game fixing is rampant in the highest levels of RP Chess. Even our young players are being exposed to it."

Events in which game fixing were alleged to have occurred included the Tanuan Open, the Inter-Provincial in Cagayan de Oro and the National Championships which concluded just last month in the RP capital.

Ultimate Game Between Two Minds

Chess is as popular as ever. Bill Gates, Will Smith and even Madonna have all taken up the game. Canadian paper, the National Post, reports that chess is no longer just for nerds. But since when has it ever been just for nerds?

While most other board and video games have players follow a set of rules or instructions that allow little in the way of improvisation, the number of possible chess games exceeds the total number of electrons in the universe, an amazing fact that is just one of the reasons Alexander is drawn to the game.

Read more from the National Post.

Bozo of the Week

From Melbourne's The Age:

ANYONE on the IOC or anywhere else who is seriously considering including chess in the Olympics probably needs to top up the oil in their brainpan, because they must have slipped a cog or something. Bear in mind this is coming from a card-carrying chess geek, who actually followed the political intricacies of the notorious "ToiletGate" incident in the 2006 Kramnik v Topalov world championship match. Incidentally, anyone who can actually come up with one valid reason why a board game should be included in an elite sporting meeting might actually be the one person on earth who can come up with a viable explanation for the Hopman Cup

Saturday, January 06, 2007

SMH on Aussie Chess

Here's another item that must surely boil the blood of NSWCA officials. It's almost like a free kick! This Matthew Sweeney guy is everywhere. Pretty soon the association will have to make him the PR officer as he actually seems to be doing a better job at airing himself.

From the Sydney Morning Herald: Pawn to be Wild.

We should expect a quick sharp letter to the editor from NSWCA boss Bill Gletsos.

Tell-All Book on Toiletgate

Those Bulgarians are clearly still angry over last year's biggest scandal, "Toiletgate". They just can't seem to stop talking about it. In this article from the Sofia News Agency, the only new thing I spotted is a tell-all book promised by Silvio Danailov.

Says Danailov, "We were under a lot of pressure, the hosts made everything to win the title...Expect a whole book on the events in Elista where the scandal with the toilet will be explained in details."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dejan Antic Beats the Benko

Ian Rogers relied upon an old fave today against his seventh round opponent Dejan Antic. The Australian, possibly wanting to surprise, opened the Black pieces with a Benko Gambit. But Antic was more than ready with himself producing, according to my database at least, a novelty with 15. Bf4. The reply 15...Bxc3 didn't look right to me as it seemed to leave the King a tad naked around his darkies. Not helping, too, was an incapacitated Rook on f7 as White's big bits loomed for a kill. The closing skirmishes left Rogers too few pawns and zero chances. He had to resign.

Zhao - Goldenberg was a dance of the big pieces with their respective remaining minors, a Knight for Zhao and a black Bishop for Goldenberg, playing supporting roles. But the Knight, as it often does, proved the more useful. A win for Zhao today that puts him on 6.5 points to grab the solo lead.

And something is broken in IM Mirko Rujevic's Grand Prix Attack especially against grandmaster opposition. The man should find something more current. The GP is way so 80's.

Johansen beat Lin while Michael Wei weaved the round's biggest stunner - a win against Vladimir Smirnov.

For more, readers should head for the Australian Open's very well stocked official website.

Chess in London 2012?

In Britain, chess is officially recognised as a sport. This means that chess will be entitled to receive funding from Downing St. But should chess be included in the London Olympics of 2012? That was the question posed by Nicky Campbell, writing in The Guardian:

The government should be doing all it can to promote the game but should it draw funding from "other" sports, which would be the inevitable consequence of official recognition? Isn't sport ultimately and ideally about physical fitness?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Short: Disappointed with England

Recent winner of the Commonwealth Chess Championships GM Nigel Short appears in this interview with P. K. Ajith Kumar for Indian publication "Sportstar".

I am very disappointed with the state of chess in England. We don't have enough tournaments, so how can we produce players? Even Adams is getting long in the tooth. He was the last of the greats. Matthew Saddler has retired. Luke McShane will not become a professional player; you can't make money out of chess. And he is a bright kid. Maybe he will play for a year or two.

From the Sportstar.

Also from the same paper is their short profile of India's latest star, Tania Sachdev. Last month the 20 year old won the 33rd Win TV National Women's `A' chess championship in Chennai.

Reply to Sweeney's Article

Our post last week on Matthew Sweeney's article in the latest issue of the Australian Chess magazine provoked some comments from a number of familiar personalities including, of course, ACF official Dr Kevin Bonham. He has since read the full article in the magazine and here is his reply (posted on Chess Chat):

While this will doubtless be seen as an attempt to provoke Matthew, my main purpose in posting it is to indicate why Matthew's contribution is of very poor quality and should not have been run as an "article". I don't object to Brian [Jones] running guff of this kind if he has nothing better (the hilarious ineptness of it is just about worth the twelve and a half cents per page) but it should be labelled as what it is - a letter to the editor - and blatant factual errors should be cleaned up.

Denis Jessop also posted a reply. Says he: "[A]lthough I generally support some reform of the ACF, Matthew's contribution to the debate is not well thought out or presented".

Perfect 6/6!

While we focus mainly on the main section, it's really only proper to extend our congratulations to Allen Setiabudi. He played and won the Australian Open minor section with a perfect 6 points out of 6 games!

And they are off in the Seniors section. Top seed is FM Brian Jones. The Sydney International Open organiser is the definite favourite for this event but The Australian newspaper's chess columnist and two-time New South Wales champion ('72 and '78) Phil Viner will want to derail Brian's ambitions. Victoria's Leon Kempen, rated 1963, is another danger man.

Lastly, we must thank Caissa that the NSWCA's risible attempt to effectively extend his ban from NSWCA events has not stopped Matthew Sweeney from playing in the major section. Mr. Sweeney had to send an urgent letter to ACF officials to clarify if he could participate. In something of an achievement, Matthew managed to draw with South Australian Erik Staak in round 2.

Hastings and NZ Congress

Two Australians are in action in overseas assignments. Tim Reilly is again on his annual trip to New Zealand for that country's chess championships. This 114th congress returns to the town of Wanganui. Reilly is on 1 point after beating Chris Burns in the first round.

Across in the UK, international master John-Paul Wallace is competing in the Hastings International Chess Congress. The event is the longest-running chess congress anywhere in the world. Wallace has so far scored just 3.5 points going into round six.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Whose Eyes Are Those?

Chess photographer Frits Agterdenbos, whose work I discovered during the Olympiad this year, is running an entirely new kind of chess quiz. Get the most answers right and you could win one of only 1000 copies of his book, "64 Schaakportretten".

This one got me stumped.

The other 15 images are on the site. Make sure to get your entries in to Frits by 12 midday GMT on 15 January, 2007.

Australian Open Round 4

Quite a blood thirsty round yesterday in the Australian Open with only six games being drawn out of 29 encounters. The high kill-rate, as might be expected, counted a couple of upsets. Sydneysider Robert Hvistendahl snagged the point from the 2122-rated local Roger Farrell and Mehmedalija Dizdarevic also failed against Gary McNamara. Another ACT resident, Milan Grcic, lost out to a visitor - Victorian player, Douglas Stones.

Were it not for his missed chances, aided perhaps by his seemingly perennial trouble with time, Junta Ikeda's draw with GM Dejan Antic might have been game of the round. Still, the Australian deserves our congratulations for a fine effort.

IM Zong Yuan Zhao, in his board 1 game, made it look easy against GM Mark Blvshtein. The visiting Canadian grandmaster's paralytic Queen-side pawns didn't help. Zhao had to merely mop them up, usher his little ones upwards carefully, and that was that.

On board 4, FM Igor Goldenberg delivered checkmate against Alex Mendes da Costa. A nice workout for Igor. I'm sure Alex will have learned something.

Our pick was the GM duel between Rogers and Johansen. I have to say I expected this to be another boring draw. But, no - this was grandmaster Ian Rogers in hot form! Love the finish.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Junta Misses Checkmate

As I post these words, Aussie junior Junta Ikeda is going blow-for-blow against visiting grandmaster Dejan Antic in round 4 of the Australian Open. And Junta, for a time, had Dejan nearly down on the canvass. Sadly, however, the young Canberran just missed mate in 4 moves.

After 32...Rxf5. Junta, white, to play.

Instead of delivering a stunning victory, Junta played 33. Qxh2+. What did he miss?

African Nightmare - An Aussie Connection

A while ago, we posted about this incident in South Africa. There is an even more detailed article about this on the Association of Chess Professionals website (which I'd previously missed) by GM Arthur Kogan himself.

Our Australian readers will note that international master Alex Wohl's name is also mentioned. It seems that he was one of the players invited by the organiser, Jackie Ngubeni. In an exclusive, we can present Alex's side of this story. Below are exact screenshots of his email to Chess South Africa.

IM Wohl's email above was one of the materials used by the Chess South Africa Ethics Committee in their investigation of GM Kogan's complaint. The Ethics Committee's report can be read whole here.

On 27 December, 2006 - CHESSA Executive Committee advised Jackie Ngubeni, via email:

The Executive Committee has examined the report and is in agreement with the prima facie conclusions of the report viz that you have brought chess in South Africa into disrepute.

In light of the above the Executive Committee of CHESSA resolves that you be given a period of 10 days (which will expire on 22 December 2006) to indicate in writing whether or not you wish to be afforded an opportunity to appear before the Executive Board and give reasons why the recommended punishment should not be ratified and implemented. If you give notice of your intention to appear before the Executive Committee , then you will be advised of the date in January 2007 as well as the place of such a meeting. Proof by yourself that you have made payment to GM Kogan of his travelling costs would be taken into account by the Executive Committee in mitigation of the proposed punishment.

Should you elect not to make use of the above-mentioned opportunity, the Executive will accept the contents of the Report by the Ethics Committee, together with its annexures, as conclusive proof of your guilt.You are hereby notified that, in such an event, the following punishment will become effective with effect from 1/1/2007 and shall be applicable for a period of 3 (three) years :

1. You are prohibited from organising, or in any manner being associated with, any International tournament in South Africa.
2. You are disqualified from representing South Africa, CHESSA - or any Associated Body of CHESSA - in an Official capacity, whether in South Africa or Internationally.
3. You are warned not to purport yourself to be a representative of CHESSA or any of its Associated Bodies.

Jackie Ngubeni did not respond to the above email and the 3-point punishment mentioned above are now in effect.