Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chinese Top Asians

It was a Chinese double in the 6th Asian Individual Chess Championship with Zhang Pengxiang and Wang Hao finishing on 8 points each.

But more important for us is the qualification of local boy IM Darwin Laylo who goes home with a ticket to Khanty-Mansiysk and, of course, that GM title. Our best wishes to Darwin and, let's not forget, Aussie IM Zong-Yuan Zhao. Zhao goes to Russia courtesy of his win in the controversial Oceania Zonal earlier this year.

Here's a full list of players who qualified to the World Cup from that Asian tournament in Cebu City.

1- GM,Zhang Pengxiang, 8
2- GM,Wang Hao, 8
3- GM,Kunte Abhijit, 7½
4- GM,Zhao Jun, 7½
5- GM,Megaranto Susanto, 7½
6- IM,Wen Yang, 7½
7- IM,Laylo Darwin, 7½
8- GM,Zhou Jianchao, 7½
9- IM,Gopal G. N.,7
10- M,Hossain Enamul, 7

More details including downloadable games are available from the official site.

Reilly Aims for Norm

This tournament has been a bit under our radar, but the 2007 George Trundle NZ Masters Tournament in Auckland features three Aussies - FM Tim Reilly, IM Stephen Solomon and GM Darryl Johansen.

Sydneysider Tim Reilly is just a draw away from an IM norm after last night beating local FM Bob Smith. But Reilly will have a big task ahead against visiting English grandmaster Stuart Conquest.

Meanwhile, across in Europe, IM Alex Wohl is in action in Munich. He won the first game against Adelbert Zohr.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Laylo, a GM

We start off with a reminder to all about copy posted in the comments.

While we appreciate your views and participation, it's important that you do not post protected content. If you'd like to share an article, it is best not to actually post the whole copy but, instead, just provide a link (if one is available).

Anyhow, one of our naughty readers wanted to share this article by Bobby Ang on a certain Darwin Laylo.

Darwin is doing very well in Cebu having just downed GM Le Quang Liem in the tenth round. He is now on 7 points and will face the sole leader, GM Zhang Pengxiang, for the final game.

But the more exciting news is that Laylo now has apparently gained enough FIDE points to boost his rating to the 2500 mark and thus becoming a grandmaster! The congratulations have already began to pour in on the NCFP's official forum. That's not all. A draw against Zhang Pengxiang in the final round will earn Laylo a ticket to the World Cup.

The other top performing Pinoy player in Cebu, GM Antonio, also has chances to score a ticket to Khanty-Mansiysk. But he must give it all as he'll need a victory over Indonesian grandmaster Susanto Megaranto.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Geurt Gijssen Caught Out!

To me, there is no great mystery about this decline of 2- or 3-day weekend chess in Sydney. It's simple! There's just far too many things to do which are often way more fun and worthwhile than chess.

A reminder once again folks that tomorrow is the Filipino Fiesta 2007 chess tournament in Rosehill Racecourse. Get out and about, mingle with the Pinoy crowd and chow down on some Pinoy food.

Also on this long weekend is the Manly Jazz Festival. Not really one to be missed! If you like your Latin music, not to mention those gorgeous Latina chicas, then head on over to Sydney's Darling Harbour.

But if you really insist on 3 days of sitting down, killing yourself with worry over your next move, then there's always the 2007 Ryde-Eastwood Open. You'll see the same faces, possibly play the same moves, and even come to the same results. How terribly exciting!

Finally, here's some really good spotting by the mob over in Chess Chat. Good comentary by well-informed and seasoned observers. Guert Gijssen really is a tosser sometimes. I hope one day he'll change his mind over the "no king capture in bliz" rule. It's one that truly pisses me off.

On that note: whatever you choose to do, hope you all have a good weekend.

Darwin Laylo Bags Final GM Norm

The official website of the 6th Asian Individual Chess Championship is reporting that IM Darwin Laylo has just bagged his third and final GM norm. He also has good chances of even becoming a full grandmaster, hitting the 2500 rating mark, by the tournament's finish if he can managed to score the required results. Laylo must achieve 1.5/2 from the last two games.

It will be a hard last two rounds for Laylo. His next opponent is Vietnam's GM Le Quang Liem.

With two rounds to go, China's Zhang Pengxiang leads on 7 points, followed close behind by three players on 6.5 points.

Australian Universities Rapid Ch.

It's on again at Sydney Uni. This year the university will host the 2007 Australian Universities Rapid Championships between 3 and 4 December! Participants from universities all over Australia are expected to take part in this event which should prove to be both an exciting tournament and a great social festival (with a definite emphasis on "social festival"). There will be a social evening on the first day while food will also be provided at lunchtime during the whole competition.

All undergraduate and postgraduate students of all universities in Australia are welcome . More information is available here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Inquest into Chesser's Death

That awful news last year of Jesse Gilbert's death is still getting a mentioned in the British papers.

The BBC reports: "The inquest into her death will take place before the Surrey Coroner Michael Burgess at the old Epsom Magistrates' Court ."

Sydney Junior in Armenia

While we're all looking at Smerdon, Ly and Weeks over in Isle of Man, I should point out a couple of other Aussies in action OS. Victorian man Nur Yachou is playing in a round robin IM tournament in Romania.

Nur says that he's there to "further gain experience at playing against international masters".

But he began miserably as he lost the first 3 rounds. Then in the fourth game, Nur must have jolted himself because he beat IM Viktor Panush of Moldova. We'll see if we can get a hold of the PGN.

Then next week, the World Under 20 Juniors and Girls Chess Championships will begin in Yerevan, Armenia. Australia has only a lone rep in Sydney junior Vincent Suttor. All the best to Vincent. Thanks to Jenni Oliver for the tip.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ACF Responds to Alex Wohl

I think this rarely happens, but this post has provoked a "formal" response from the ACF - specifically, from the ACF Selections Co-Ordinator, Kevin Bonham.

Actually I run a selections info mailout list precisely to address the problem of informing top players about upcoming selections chances, especially at times when the ACF Newsletter is delayed. Information on how to join this list was emailed to every top player I had an email address for shortly after the previous Olympiad selections. It was also recently published in the ACF Newsletter, and elsewhere. However for anyone who still somehow missed it, email with "Join selections mailout list" in the subject heading and you're in.Actually I run a selections info mailout list precisely to address the problem of informing top players about upcoming selections chances, especially at times when the ACF Newsletter is delayed. Information on how to join this list was emailed to every top player I had an email address for shortly after the previous Olympiad selections. It was also recently published in the ACF Newsletter, and elsewhere. However for anyone who still somehow missed it, email with "Join selections mailout list" in the subject heading and you're in.

Get Into Blogging

You might have read Shaun Press' article on chess blogging in the most recent Australian Chess Magazine. If you've been inspired to start a blog (certainly not necessarily a chess blog for that matter) and still just thinking about it, then let me say, "just do it already!" Individuals, clubs, state bodies and even the ACF should all start one.

For the latter two groups, just consider the advantages: no complicated web management, fast publishing, multi-user, cheap (in many cases free, like my current host) and strict content governance (i.e. you can stop potentially controversial comments or disable comments altogether).

If these guys consider blogging, I hope they don't do follow the example of AGIMO. Say what - AGIMO?

Never heard of them either - but that's the Australian Government Informational Management Office within the Department of Finance and Administration. AGIMO has recently published a discussion paper to guage the Australian people's view on whether the government should launch a consultation blog. Yes, these bureaucrats really are serious!

We agree with Duncan Riley, writing for TechCrunch:

Now whilst it’s great to see a sovereign nation officially consider a blogging strategy, I want what ever it is the soon-to-be former Government is smoking; the irony of launching a consultation paper on a consultation blog seems lost on them. Certainly deciding to run a blog based on a lengthy consultation process by itself seems to me to prove that they shouldn’t be blogging at all; after all, if the purpose of having a consultation blog is to gain feedback from the public, wouldn’t they just be better off launching the blog and taking feedback from the public via the blog rather than launching a consultation paper that probably cost six figures to come up with by a committee of high paid public servants who love nothing more than creating papers like this as a means to avoid real exposure to the will of the public? A little cynical perhaps, but reading a paper that describes blogs like 2002 called again can do that to you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

6th Asian Official Site

Our thanks to an anonymous poster for this info. We've now got an "official site" for the 6th Asian Individual Chess Championships in Cebu. Just point your browsers to I think that site may have been already around from day 1 or earlier. It's just that we didn't know about it!

The site should have everything we'll need: reports, games, results and so on. Enjoy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Filipino Fiesta 2007

Ronald Manila, executive producer of the Pinoy program for SBS radio, sent an invitation to yours truly to this weekend's Pinoy Fiesta Chess tournament in Rosehill Racecourse.

If you guys aren't doing anything this Saturday, then I suggest trotting off to Rosehill for some Filipino culture - food, music, beauty contests and chess. Non-Pinoy Aussies are most welcome but bear in mind this rather amusing requirement: "The tournament is open to all Filipino-Australians and non-Filipino Australians provided that they are endorsed by a Filipino-Australian."

Thankfully, we've managed to come to an agreement with Ronald. If you're not "one of us", just mention TCG and you're in!

Megaranto Leads Asian

Indonesian grandmaster Susanto Megaranto is the surprise current leader on 4.5 points after five rounds in the 6th Asian Individual Championships. He is undefeated to date having only conceded a draw to GM Zhao Jun in the fourth round. Three players - Gopal, Zhang Pengxiang and Zhao Jun - are close behind with 4 points apiece.

RP's International master Darwin Laylo and GM Antonio are the highest placed locals with 3.5 points to their names. It was early in round 2 that Laylo caused an upset of sorts when he defeated GM Chanda Sandipan (2563) of India. Laylo was perhaps a tad lucky when the Indian played 28...Bc2. Might have been a miscalculation by Sandipan but it left him on the backfoot in the endgame.

My thanks to Manny Benitez for providing PGNs (up to round 4). Apparently these came courtesy of the NCFP so I guess I should extend my gratitude to them, too. But the workflow from whoever is coding the games to the NCFP webmaster is obviously still needing some work. Today, the only games I see on the NCFP site are from round 1!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I could make another post on chess or, dear readers, I could simply point you to I'm having a rather relaxing Saturday afternoon just watching the videos.

This one, featuring MIT Media Lab's John Maeda, is quite interesting. Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Moulthun Ly in Isle of Man

In case you missed it, Jenni Oliver informed our readers that Queenslander Moulthun Ly will be joining both Smerdon and Weeks in the Isle of Man. The strong Aussie junior will be vying for his third IM norm. Good luck Moulthun.

Alex Wohl Lambasts ACF

In the latest ACF newsletter there is a call from Dr Kevin Bonham, the federation's selections coordinator, for applications to be selected for the Commonwealth Championships. The tournament will take place in New Delhi, India between 2 and 10 December, 2007.

But hang on a sec! IM Alex Wohl has just told me that he's been invited by the organiser to play in the event and thus effectively bypassing the ACF. Just as well - as Alex isn't happy with his federation.

I am going to play in the Commonwealth Championships in Delhi in December. I met the organiser by accident in Spain and he invited me. The only way to get an Australian to many of these events is for the host federation to take a "pro-active" approach.

Since I have been based in Europe I have tried to ignore the ACF so as to keep my blood-pressure down but when I see tournaments like the Asian Championships go by, very strong tournaments with good conditions, good prize money and norm chances, I can´t help but get annoyed.

Apart from calling for donations (very late) for the Olympiad what does the ACF do?

"We are a laughing stock", concludes the IM.

Another chappie unhappy with his federation. Understandable really. Today', there's no information about the Commonwealth Championships on

What about the newsletter then? Alex tells me that the ACF long ago stopped sending him the newsletter. In any case, it seems remarkably ridiculous that our top players have to bother subscribing to something that these days come about once a month!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

RP to bid for Olympiad

The National Chess Federation of the Philippines has just announced that it will bid for the 2012 Olympiad. From the press release:

The Philippines will formally make a bid to host the 2012 World Chess Olympiad during the FIDE Congress next year. This was revealed by National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Prospero Pichay during the formal opening ceremonies of the sixth Asian Individual Chess Championship at the Cebu International Convention Center here Wednesday.

That would be pretty cool if RP is successful. To be honest, though, unless they can demonstrate some massive improvements between now and 2012, even I won't bet on RP scoring the gig. We're talking here about first acquiring the required skill set for 21st century tournament coverage. Did anyone see live game broadcast of the most recent big events in the Philippines? How about downloadable PGNs? Or bulletins?

To have an event as large and as prestigious as an Olympiad but sans the essential info that people have come to expect these days would be completely embarrassing. But anyway best wishes to Pichay and co. as they could be up against the ECF. If the NCFP has any advantage whatsoever, it will be that a trip to RP will be certainly cheaper!

Asian Championships Website

Thanks to a poster we've got a site where we can follow the results of the 6th Asian Individual Championships. Go here for daily updates. As you can see, Paragua is definitely playing. And interestingly, Dableo appears nowhere in the field despite his name being mentioned by various media sources. On the other hand, Laylo is there. All this is basically consistent with the length of their respective suspensions handed down by the NCFP, so nothing unusual there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

6th Asian Individual Championships

The 6th Asian Individual Chess Championships was scheduled to start today in my beloved province of Cebu. But at the time of this post, there are no updates (apart from a now stale press release) on the NCFP's website and, as far as we can tell, there is not even an official site dedicated to the event.

I know, I know - complaining about newsletters and websites is becoming a bit of a staple for us.

All we have worth mentioning is the playing field or a portion thereof. Among the local grandmasters only Torre and Antonio have pitched up. This is contrary to the NCFP's somewhat optimistic press release late last month that, "The Philippines will be represented by its five GMs". Two of those gents, in fact, remain unmoved in their coaching gigs in Singapore and Mark Paragua, just back from a 2-month stint in the US, is yet to confirm if he's playing or not. This leaves the rest of the RP contingent to a group of international masters who will no doubt be aiming for norms. Wesley So, Dableo, Dimakiling and Darwin Laylo will spearhead their charge. With many strong foreigners in the field, these guys will have ample chances.

Note that IMs Dableo and Laylo were earlier this year involved in the so-called "game fixing" cotroversy. Dableo was suspended for 1 year while Laylo for six months. We can understand if Laylo's suspension is now expired, but Dableo? I've got nothing against him playing, but it's an odd move by the NCFP indeed. Has the national body quietly owned up to a terrible mistake? Worth mentioning is that both these international masters' ratings are still missing from the FIDE website.

Among the foreign entrants, the following is what we can gather from the newswires as confirmed. From China the top seeds are GMs Ni Hua, Zhang Pengxiang and Wang Hao. Iranian Ehsan Ghame Maghami will also be there as well as Indians GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Chanda Sandipan. Adianto will represent Indonesia plus another bunch of strong Chinese including Xu Jun, Zhou Jiangchao and Zhao Jun.

The Australian Chess Federation was invited to send a representative but I don't know if any player took the offer. We'll have to check in our mate Kevin Bonham.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chess as a Gritty Sideline

There's the occasional money game in Sydney's Hyde Park but no hustling. At least not like what you might see in New York's parks. Like Russian Paul. The guy gives "lessons". uh-huh. Right, lessons.

By Dylan Loeb McLain for the New York Times.

Monday, September 17, 2007

ACF Overlooks States

Our brothers and sisters in Western Australia can be understadably displeased with the Australian Chess Federation. In the national body's most recent e-newsletter, there is no mention of WA's currently ongoing state chess championships. Western Aussies must be wondering just how hard is it for any half-decent ACF official, at least those involved in the e-newsletter, to just make a quick check of the CAWA website. Just be pro-active!

For the boys in the ACF, here's a simple tip. With your little fingers, you can start a little count.

This little piggy is the NSWCA. And this little piggy is CV. While this little piggy is CAQ. This little piggy is SA and this one is TCA. This one is the ACT and, lastly, this one is CAWA. There. Easy, ain't it?

Oh, but wait, there's nothing on the NSWCA state championships either! Why these guys even bother I just don't know, I really don't. But they do have a mention of the Malaysian Open - some two weeks after the event ended - plus a link to Chessbase.

Somebody please remind me again of the ACF's purpose.

In case you're wondering: after 6 rounds Tristan Boyd remains unbeaten and leads by a half point in front of sole second placer Jay Lakner. And in Sydney, FM Greg Canfell surges ahead to another title win as he yesterday downed danger man Johny Bolens.

Turning now to OS, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, David Smerdon will possibly enter the upcoming Isle of Man, slated from 22 Sep to 30 Sep. David's entry has since been fully confirmed as we can now see his name in the list of participants. Also entering the tournament is Manuel Weeks. Good luck to both.

And before I forget, let me say happy birthday international master David Smerdon! He is 23 today. All power to David and may you return to our shores with the GM title fully in the bag!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Grandmaster Plan for RP Chess

Every weekend, Pinoy chess fans can enjoy reading a locally produced publication called "The Chess Plaza Weekender" (or just "The Weekender"). This little newsletter, edited and published by Pinoy journo Manny Benitez, covers both Philippines and world chess news. It's pack full of the usual reportage style segments, game analysis, opinions and so on. I'd bet that if there was a gong for "Best Microsoft Word document chess newsletter", then Manny's baby would surely take it! Content is well-written and nicely laid out, quite unlike a certain Sydney chess newsletter that I also receive! The best thing is: it's completely free!

Yet, in fact, I've only heard about The Weekender in the last couple of weeks and only got my hands on the last two most recent issues. But in many ways my timing was opportune because these two issues contain an important paper: Grandmaster Bong Villamayor's proposed development program for RP chess. The proposal was written and submitted to the NCFP in 2002 but only now do we get to see it in full.

GM Villamayor's document, published in full in The Weekender, is interesting because it will have resonance in other places especially where chess is either developing or is in a troubled state. It's basically a strategic plan, albeit perhaps lacking in some important detail. For example, the grandmaster suggests:

The NCFP’s over-dependence on contributions and donations to finance projects. It should engage in revenue generating activities to complement donated funds. These activities could take the form of book publishing, distribution and marketing of chess sets, clocks, decals, and other paraphernalia, A strict imposition of payment of membership and affiliation dues, rating fees, etc.

However, absent are hints on how to actually make that happen. Introducing "rating fees" alone can entail all sorts of issues (i.e. how much, frequency of collection, who collects, and so on). More than that - the idea of generating income through the publishing and sale of books means taking the NCFP, or at least some part thereof, into a whole new ball game. Business. Doubtless the current NCFP personnel - who are, by the way and as far as I know, volunteers - have the necessary skill sets to run businesses. I just doubt if the NCFP, organisationally, would be anywhere near ready to run a for-profit enterprise.

Overall, though, GM Villamayor's paper is still worth a read. He has many good ideas. What also struck me is the style of language but especially the sentiments behind them. For these are qualities that I rarely see in my current local scene, Australian chess. There is a certain kind of passion for chess in a Filipino that, I have to say, you can never or rarely see in an Aussie. Take this combative section:

In recent years it is becoming increasingly clear that our country’s dominance in Asian chess cannot be maintained unless a second renaissance occurs.

Already, countries such as China, Indonesia, India and even Vietnam are mounting a serious challenge to Filipinos in International tournaments. (In Southeast Asia alone, Vietnam is clearly the main threat to Philippine dominance especially in the SEA Games.) Collectively, Filipinos are without question stronger players because of two distinct factors: a good chess environment and decades of chess culture; but other nations are slowly but steadily gaining ground, possibly because of long-term planning and scientific training for their elite and mass-based players.

You don't see those words pouring forth out of an Australian chesser. Instead, these guys here are happy in the knowledge that Australia is the big dog in a zone full of puppies!

For those who want to subscribe to The Weekender, just email Manny Benitez at "manny underscore o underscore b at yahoo dot com". By the way, copies of the TW editions referred to in this post are available online via Kiko's blog. The first issue is here and the second half is available here. Happy reading.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life Lessons From Chess

Francesca Black has an interesting take on life, parenthood and chess. Here she says:

Raising children in the world today has become much more complicated than it was even 20 years ago. Among some of the influences that seek to effect the youth of today are a "got to have it now attitude" and related to that, a lack of foresight as to how choices will have consequences later. There seems to be a deteriorating of values and concern with basic moral character. Responsibility, effect of choices and thinking before acting are among these traits. With the world becoming more complicated children need these skills to be equipped to meet its expectations, challenges and the many problems that will arise. A person does not need to go to extremes to help their child, its as simple as teaching the game of chess.

Yeah right!

(Un)fair Conditions?

The Players Undertaking for participation in the 2007 World Cup published by FIDE contains these two provisions that caught my attention:

4.2 All players that sign this undertaking agree not to compete in any cycle, tournament or match outside of FIDE, with the purpose of establishing a World Chess Champion, for a period of 4 (four) years from this date.


4.4 Players may be required to wear clothes or apparel with special branding from sponsors when specifically approved by the FIDE President.

So they lock you in for 4 years, that's "(four)" in case you can't read numbers, and be at the mercy of Kirsan's taste in couture! None of those Kalmykian outfits, I'm sure the players would hope.

Seriously, 4.4 looks pretty normal, but to be locked in for 4 years?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Site Owners, Bloggers: Beware!

Just spotted this interesting item on the SMH this afternoon.

In a move that could set a nasty precedent for Australian website operators and their users, a software firm is suing a community website over comments published on its message board.

The firm, 2Clix, is suing the owner of the popular broadband community site Whirlpool, Simon Wright, for "injurious falsehood", asking for $150,000 in damages and an injunction requiring Whirlpool to remove forum threads highly critical of 2Clix's accounting software.

Time for me to 'fess up. I've, in fact, had to delete or modify a number of posts (but especially reader comments) exactly to avoid exposure to these sorts of legal problems. So I can't see anything new from my point of view.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Glocks, Body Armour and Big Socks

I know I promised last week to post another report on the NSW State Championships. Honestly, I had every intention to. What with APEC going on in the city, being as far away from Sydney would have been the smarter option. But, as it turned out, I headed my way to Sydney - and not Parramatta - on Saturday to attend the "Stop Bush" rally.

I'm afraid, dear readers, that the rally had me completely knackered. With the event lasting the whole day I was too tired on Sunday to bother. So no chess report from me. You could head over to Trent's blog where he's got an interesting take on the switch from the usual 9 rounds to seven.

I tell you what, at least we've still got a seven-rounder. At the rate that the NSW Champs is going, we could very well be stuck with our own chessic version of equine flu!

No chess, but I can share a couple of photos I took on my day of protest. Here in this first one is a phalanx of men in blue, Australian Fed Police. I gather these guys were borrowed from Canberra. Like their local state counterparts - they were all fully armed with glocks, some with body armour and all. And against whom but an unarmed citizenry. Scary stuff!

But it was mostly peaceful. A number of protesters were older women and some folks even brought along their kids in prams! Unbelievable. While others conveyed their message with a touch of humour too. Like these two guys.

Moments after I snapped the photo, these two gents were grabbed by the police and "detained". And in case you're curious, written on one guy's bum cover were the words, "It's the hidden tools you must watch for the most - Confucius".

As is typical with rallies like last Saturday's, voices comes from a mix of angles. Expectedly, my neighbour Mr Mamdouh Habib was there. In case you didn't know, he's the guy who spent time in Gitmo. There was even a band of alleged neo-Nazis, wearing all black and hooded. The police quietly asked them to leave.

Well that was my weekend. Ahelluvalot more exciting than chess I must admit. But I won't have too many like those pretty soon. It's frightening to see a determined police force in action.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

NCFP Response to Estimo

In an open letter to various media and bloggers last Monday, NCFP executive director Sammy Estimo accused his organisation of being "a rudderless sports boat". Yesterday, the RP federation finally published a response. Unfortunately for our English-only readers most of the content is in Tagalog.

THE National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), under former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay and Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham “Bambol’ Tolentino, has “achieved a lot in so little time.” This was stressed by NCFP director Willie Abalos in reaction to published reports that the chess association has come under fire from its own executive director.
“Contrary to claims of disgruntled individuals, the NCFP is not a rudderless sports boat,” said Abalos in a statement to the media.

“In fact, the NCFP is very active in the promotion of chess all over the country as proven by the staging of numerous local and international tournaments with lucrative cash prizes,” added Abalos, who spoke in behalf of Pichay and Tolentino.

Read the entire press release here.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Chess Today Host

A couple of days ago we asked, "who was the host of "Chess Today" and during which years?" Well, our first anonymous poster got it right. It was, indeed, none other than Florencio Campomanes who produced and hosted "Chess Today" from 1973 to 1982. I owe that little tid bit to Bobby Ang in this column last February.

Before I go and try to enjoy what's left of this gray Friday in Sydney, here's a bit of gossip for you. We haven't had too many of these lately.

We understand that a certain Pinay starlet is on her way to Mexico. Oh la la! I sure wish I had my own two-legged talisman like that. Though in my case, could be more of a distraction.

Have a good weekend all.

Undefeated Smerdon in Liverpool

Six games in and IM David Smerdon is still undefeated in the Liverpool 800th Anniversary International Open. He now has 4.5 points that includes a win against England's GM Mark Hebden. Here's the concluding fragment.

Position after 30. Kh2

30...Rc1 31. Rxc1 Nxc1 32. Qe8+ Kh7 33. Qxf7 Qf5 34. Qa7 Qf8 35. e4 Nd3 36. d5 exd5 37. exd5 Qc5 38. Qf7 a2 39. Qxh5+ Kg8 40. Qe8+ Kh7 41. Qe4+ Kh8 42. Qe8+ Kh7 43. d6 a1=Q 44. d7 Nxf2 45. Bxf2 Qae5+ 46. Bg3 Qed4 47. Bf2 Qcd6+ 0-1

Also playing in the event is Manuel Weeks who, so far, has a tally of 3.5 points. GM Alberto David leads overall on 5 points.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Anand Accused of Being No Talent

India's Vishy Anand seems to be giving a lot of interviews recently. Here he talks to Manisha Mohite. The current FIDE world number one (2792) says:

Since I was the youngest player, at times I found it difficult to fit in with the older generation. One player went to my father and told him that I didn't have any talent and my playing fast wouldn't take me anywhere. At that time, I remember we were all quite angry, but now when I think of it, I can smile it off.

Anand, of course, spent some of his early years in RP where his father worked as a railway consultant there. While in the Philippines the young future super-GM was apparently quite fond of a TV program called "Chess Today" and even won prizes for solving the show's puzzles. Trivia: who was the host of "Chess Today" and during which years?

Mourning for The Championships

A day like last Sunday is one of those that makes it hard to play chess. It was fine and sunny, just perfect to be out and about, away from any kind of indoor activity. Yet I just had to drag myself out to Parra, anyway, for the third round of the NSW State Championships. But not before I managed to put in a few hours of Sunday morning doing my usual. First stop was a detour at my local cafe for a long, slow, caffeine fix then on to a movie.

With my regular flick-fix out of the way, off to chess I went.

That playing hall was a little like attending a wake. No more than twenty or so were there. Just a little while ago this event used to attract more than double this year's attendance. Everyone, seated and hunched over their boards, looked as if they were in mourning. Some faces expressionless, while others grimacing. But doubtless in the back of some minds was a real sense of mourning over the hopelessness and now seemingly irrelevant Championships. It was very sad. These days the Championship is basically dead. Anyhow, however few games are played there are always the little stories to tell.

Least of my expectations was a little bit of positive news from Norm Greenwood, the treasurer. It seems that I'd won $65 two years back and forgot about collecting the prizemoney. The cheque is still showing on the association's books. Well I better get to that very quickly. Then again - at the rate that these guys are bleeding cash, I could do them a favour and give the money back. Still thinking about it.

By the time I arrived most games were still on the way including Canfell - Furst on board 2. The defending champion was never in trouble eventually winning with a methodical breakthrough against the black kingside position. On the other hand, no game transpired on board 1 as Camer defaulted. Who knows what will happen to him? He's still on zero, seems to have difficulty presenting himself at the venue, and may yet opt to protect his already falling rating by bailing out early. Let's hope not.

The last game to finish in the Championships was Rose - Bolens. It was painful to watch. Their clocks were on the edges and both players were understandably committing serious oversights. We then come to this position:

Rose now played 1. Kd7 attacking the rook. Bolens confidently answered with 1...Rb6, with not a hint of emotion on his face, attempting to pull off another one his tricks. Rose now simply continued with 2. Rxb6 and he had to suffer a series of queen checks before finally winning! But could he have opted for the simple 2. e8=Q?

In the majors section, two games stood out. First was Kordahi - Rachmadi. By his own admission, Nick Kordahi was a lucky man. Essaying the Keres Attack, Nick held the advantage almost straight out of the opening while Herman was nowhere to be seen. But as is often the case when you have the big upper hand, Nick suddenly began to dilly dally. Bishop f1 to g2 then back again for no reason! It was all very weird. And Hermann was threatening to claw back.

"I was about to cry", Nick said.

What could we do but sympathise? You just had to feel for the guy. Lucky for him Hermann seems less sharp these days and made some fundamental errors. Our mate Nick eventually won!

Finally, here's Glissan - Christensen. Joshua, playing black, may have given up too quickly. During the postmortem everyone seemed convinced that 21...Qc8 lost on the spot. Actually, it didn't. Bad maybe, sure, but recoverable. I don't know what happened here but it seems that Joshua just threw it all in with 23...hxg6 when the straightforward 23...Rxe1+ would have done OK.

2007 NSW State Ch
Glissan, Paul
Christensen, Joshua

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 c6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Bd2 Qc7 7. Bd3 Bg4 8. h3 Bh5 9. O-O e6 10. Ne4 Nbd7 11. Re1 Be7 12. c4 O-O 13. Rc1 c5 14. d5 exd5 15. cxd5 Nxd5 16. Ng3 Bg6 17. Bc4 N7f6 18. Ne5 Rad8 19. Qe2 a6 20. a4 Rfe8 21. f4

Position after 21. f4

21...Qc8 Dismissed by Joshua as a bad move. Both players agreed that 21...Bd6 may have been the better choice. 22.Qf3 Now Joshua sees that f4-f5 is threatened. He wants to counterattack a piece, so he plays 22....Bd6 It's OK. But now, apparently distracted by white's "attack" on the Nd5, he seems to forget a tactical resource. 23.Nxg6 hxg6?? 23...Rxe1+ 24.Rxe1 hxg6 25.Bxd5 Nxd5 24.Rxe8+ 1–0

Til next Sunday then. With this ridiculous APEC thing going on in Sydney, as well as the near total lockdown, I'll probably head to Parramatta again. To read more reports from the Championships, visit Trent Parker's blog.

Monday, September 03, 2007

NCFP Under Attack! From Inside

I was in the middle of writing my NSW State Championships report when suddenly this letter came to my inbox. It came from Sammy Estimo, executive director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, and addressed to Manny Benitez, editor of an RP chess rag called "The Weekender".

This is so hot that I have to put Aussie matters temporarily on hold. I quote Mr Estimo's letter below in full without alteration.


Dear Sir:

The National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) is a queer sports association with identity problems. Its official address in its Articles of Incorporation has been abandoned without any board resolution effecting the same. Except when it banned some prominent players, the NCFP board of directors has not met with a quorum since it was treacherously organized in March, 2006. The NCFP is now facing a suit because of the questionable banning of the players. One director was also sued for libel over the same issue.

During his time, FIDE Honorary Chair Florencio Campomanes always consulted the old PCF board on important policy matters. It was the lawful thing for him to do despite the presence then of “rebel” directors in the PCF.

It is different today. Only 2 or 3 directors consult each other and decide the fate of Philippine Chess, never mind the suggestions of the majority members of the board.

The NCFP is the only organization in the world whose executive director is the last to know about the program of activities of his own federation. It is actually being managed by a busybody director who has no mandate from the board, but is cleverly taking advantage of the understandable “silence” of its generous president. This director takes his orders from Russia and from Tagaytay City. He has also headed all delegations to international chess competitions using funds of the federation and from financial assistance given by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Local grandmasters are complaining about their unequal treatment vis-à-vis their foreign counterparts competing in our shores. Local arbiters are also ruing the employment of foreign arbiters in our own tournaments when there are enough of them who are equally, if not, more qualified. Local players lament the disappearance of national events with rich prizes just to accommodate international tournaments, all of which were won by foreign GMs. And FIDE ratings of local players appear or disappear depending on how their images project on the radar screen of a Russia-based NCFP director.

The NCFP today is a rudderless sports boat!

Very truly,

NCFP Executive Director


Exciting stuff ahead for RP chess but not for the right reasons. Can this derail recent improvements in the local chess scene in the Philippines? Let's hope not for that would be a real tragedy.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Liverpool International Open

IM David Smerdon will play in next week's Liverpool 800th Anniversary International Open starting on Monday. Current top players in the starting list include Daniel Fridman (2628), Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (2610) and Emanuel Berg (2580).

The open tournament will take place alongside the UK v China summit. Both these events basically form part of Liverpool city's plans to be the chess capital of Britain. They've already held the EU Individual Championships and next year will be an even bigger one ("the biggest tournament on British soil in 100 years", as promised by Professor David Robertson) that will coincide with celebrations for the European Capital of Culture.

After Liverpool, we can possibly expect David to appear in the Isle of Man.