Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inside Philippine Chess, Book 2

As we find ourselves again in the festive season, I'm sure some of you are busy creating your wishlist for Santa. For yours truly, top on that list is Chessbase 10. The starter package will do, thank you very much Santa dearest. And would you believe that I still don't even have a single copy of the "My Predecessors" series? Yes, those books are also on my list.

But one item that really ought to be on anyone's wishlist is book two of "Inside Philippine Chess" by RP-based columnist and ex-Olympiad team captain, Bobby Ang. The book is basically a selection of many articles by Bobby from over the years.

Like the first volume, which was published eight years ago, this second book chronicles some key events in Philippine chess history, the important personalities and the chess games that were so crucial to bringing glory to RP chess. Here’s the list of chapter headings:

  • GM Eugene Torre, the Legend
  • GM Rosendo Balinas Jr., Conqueror of Odessa
  • Remember the Tagle Variation
  • NM Ramon Lontoc Jr.
  • The Bandal Clan
  • IM Andronico Yap (1961-1990)
  • Filipinos in the Olympiads (1956-2006)
  • Bong Villamayor, GM in 42 Days
  • GM Nelson Mariano
  • GM Mark Paragua, Final GM Norm
  • FIDE Master Anton Paolo del Mundo
  • Favorites

The chapter on Balinas alone is essential reading. Who knows, it might have been his careless remark to Polugaevsky that prompted the Russians to invite him to Odessa, apparently to teach him a lesson. But here was this lone Filipino who took on the might of Soviet chess and won! Balinas topped the Odessa International in1976 with 10/14, finishing above the likes of Alburt, Savon, Tukmakov and Tseitlin.

Take a look at his win over the 1971 USSR Champion, Vladimir Savon.

Odessa 1976
Balinas, Rosendo Carrean
Savon, Vladimir A

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. e4 g6 7. Nf3 Bg7 8. Be2 O-O 9. O-O Nbd7 10. a4 Qe7 11. Nd2 a6 12. f4 Rb8 13. Kh1 b6 14. Nc4 Nxe4 15. Nxe4 Qxe4 16. Nxd6 Qe7 17. Nxc8 Rbxc8 18. Bxa6 Rcd8 19. Qb3 Nf6 20. Qxb6 Rxd5 21. Qb3 Rd4 22. a5 Ne4 23. Qf3 c4 24. Be3 Rd3 25. Rfe1 Bxb2 26. Bxc4 Rc3 27. Rab1 Rxc4 28. Rxb2 Qa3 29. Rb5 Re8 30. Re5 Rxe5 31. fxe5 Qxa5 32. Rf1 Qd5 33. Bh6 Rc3 34. Qf4 g5 35. Bxg5 Rc6 36. Bf6 Nxf6 37. exf6 h6 38. Qxh6 1-0

Well, you know, as they say, “RESPECT!” But it wasn’t always so. In the 1968 Olympiad (Lugano, Switzerland) the Philippines managed to defeat England in a preliminary match 2.5-1.5. It provoked the then England skipper, IM Harry Golombek, to remark, “[T]hese little pygmies can play chess!”

Florencio Campomanes, serving as captain for RP, shot back, “[O]f course we can you big hairy ape.”

This one is among the many little stories which the reader will find in the chapter, “Filipinos in the Olympiads (1956-2006)”. However, if I had any criticism of this book at all, it is that this chapter does seem inadequate. For such a long history in the big event, RP in the Olympiad could probably fill a whole book!

(As an aside, and speaking of a nation’s history at the Olympiad, I can inform you that at least two well-placed men, independent of one another, each began to write about Australia's experience at this event. Very sadly, both projects are presently on hold).

The section on “Favorites” is a collection of shorter articles including one about Bobby Fischer’s connection with the Pinoys. Our writer, Mr Ang, puts it very simply in the end about the great Fischer: “[Y]ou should remember only his games. Forget about the man.”

Finally, for a nation with a long chessic history, it is inevitable that an opening system should find its original roots in a Filipino. Take for example the now popular “English Defence”. Did you know that this was once known as the “Henrysky Opening”, named after a certain Pinoy man Henry Mariano? But how then did it become the English? Here’s a hint: Tony Miles “stole” it! Bobby Ang gives the following game as the system’s debut in an important tournament.

Hastings 1976
Farago, Ivan
Miles, Anthony J

1. d4 b6 2. c4 Bb7 3. Nc3 e6 4. e4 Bb4 5. Qc2 Qh4 6. Bd3 f5 7. g3 Qh5 8. Be2 Qf7 9. f3 fxe4 10. fxe4 Nf6 11. d5 O-O 12. Nf3 Qg6 13. Bd3 Qh5 14. O-O Na6 15. a3 Bxc3 16. bxc3 Nc5 17. Be3 Nxd3 18. Qxd3 exd5 19. exd5 Nxd5 20. cxd5 Rxf3 21. Rxf3 Qxf3 22. Rd1 Ba6 23. Qd2 Bc4 24. Bf4 d6 25. h4 Rf8 26. Kh2 Be2 27. Rg1 Re8 28. Rg2 Bc4 29. Rf2 Qe4 30. Qd4 Bxd5 31. Qxe4 Rxe4 32. h5 h6 33. g4 Rc4 0-1

“Inside Philippine Chess Vol. 2” deserves to be on your shopping list for Christmas. A must-read for Pinoy chess lovers, especially. If you’re interested in reading more of Bobby Ang’s columns, go to Indochess.


Anonymous said...

During the glory period of the '60's, '70's and '80's, with Cardoso, Lontoc, Naranja, Balinas, Ruben Reyes, and other Filipino talents, and culminated with Eugene Torre's ascent to grandmaster status, the Philippines was the best super power in Asia!

Bobby Ang's book is a must read book to understand and relish the achievements of our earliest Pinoy chess talents, and the glory days of Philippine chess.

Thanks CG, and to Bobby Ang for reliving those precious times in Philippine chess, and honoring the our past Filipino players.

Anonymous said...

Schadenfraude is in the air... (see next posts, not comments)