Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Australasian Chess latest issue now out

THE latest issue (September-October) of the bi-monthly Australasian Chess magazine has been delivered to subscribers two weeks ahead of schedule. The current issue features in its cover the group photo of the participants to the Oceania Zone chess developmental meeting held in Gold Coast, Australia.

The 2009 Oceania zonal was the main story of the issue which was comprehensively covered by no other than the tournament chief arbiter himself, Dr. Charles Zworestine.

The magazine is published six times a year by Australian Chess Enterprises and is competently edited by international organizer FM Brian Jones, who is a good friend of The Chess Connoisseur. Among its regular features include columns on games, problems, combinations, and book reviews in addition to news brief from events around the world, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

With 72 quality pages to digest in each issue, the cost of sixty six Australian dollars per year for Oceania subscribers is a real bargain. For America and Asia the cost is AUD 77.00; for Europe and the rest of the world it is AUD 82.50. However one looks at it still it is cheaper compared to other international chess magazines. Its four center pages consist of photographs, mostly colored.

Australasian Chess magazine can be obtained from

Australian Chess Enterprises
P.O. Box 370 Riverstone
NSW 2765 Australia
The reader may contact the publisher by email at info@chessaustralia.com.au, or visit its website at http://www.chessaustralia.com.au/.

Subscribe now!

World Cup qualifiers announced

FIDE announces the updated list of original qualifiers for the World Cup to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia from 20 November to 15 December 2009.

The list comprised of the following number of qualifiers and qualifying events:

....1 -- World Championship 2008
....4 -- World Cup 2007
....1 -- Women's World Championship
....2 -- Junior World Champions 2007 & 2008
..20 -- FIDE Rating List, average 7/2008 & 1/2009
..46 -- European Championships 2008 & 2009
..19 -- Americas
..19 -- Asia/Oceania
....6 -- Africa
....6 -- Nominees of the FIDE President (TBA)
....4 -- Nominees of the local Organizing Committee (TBA)

128 -- Total number of players

The list of qualifiers can be found here.

A tribute to Alfredo B. Base, Filipino, US chess master

WHAT he never achieved in the Philippines, Alfredo B. Base obtained in the United States—the US senior chess master title—when he immigrated there in early 1990s. Earlier he used to be a regular participant in most Metro Manila tournaments and had swapped chess pieces with the likes of FM Fernie Donguines, national master Antonio Calvo, and other local masters playing for the Philippine Army in the 1980s.

Base has a solid style of play, preferring slow build up over direct attack on his opponent’s king. As such his play tended to be passive and boring but this suited him just fine as he could take advantage of his opponent’s impatience, over-confidence or lapses.

As White he always opened with 1.e4, apparently an open game, but most often continued with the King’s Indian Attack setup. With Black his bread and butter was the French Defense. With both colors most of his games featured pawns on white squares usually in stonewall formation. This proved successful in open chess competitions in the United States where he achieved the US senior chess master title.

Among the tournaments he had taken part with in the United States include open events in Chicago (1991 and 1996), Las Vegas (1994), Memorial Day in Long Beach (1994), and Continental in Los Angeles (2000), the 1995 National open in Las Vegas and the Oak Park Master Challenge in 1996.

Reportedly the highest international rating he obtained was 2310; his current FIDE rating is 2222 as his FIDE profile shows.

His peak US Chess Federation rating was 2375 between 1996 and 1997, the period of his immense chess activities. However when his USCF rating took a deep plunge from 2310 (approx) in 1999 to 2200 in the beginning of the 21st century, his tournament participation became sporadic while his rating leveled at 2203.

The news of his death was learned by The Chess Connoisseur from the Philippine Boxing website (its webmaster, it seems, is a chess enthusiast). The full article follows:

Base, US Chess Master, Writes 30

LOS ANGELES—Alfredo Base, a former member of the Philippine Army chess team, passed away last August 19. A US Chess Master residing in Los Angeles, Base was 47.

Base, a strong master who once held an Elo of 2310, teamed up with National Masters Fernie Donguines and Antonio Calvo to form a solid team for the Philippine Army before migrating to the United States where he reportedly did not have a family.

Nobody has claimed his remains, which is still connected to a life support system in order to preserve his organs. His has lost brain impulses.

His body remains at the ICU Room 6328 of Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Los Angeles. Reports indicate that he is a native of Butuan City and a search for relatives has been conducted by friends. Should nobody claim the remains, the life support system will be unplugged by Saturday afternoon, (early Sunday morning in Manila), and legal interment proceedings will be administered by the hospital.

Philippine relatives can get in touch with Base’s church mate Jennie Irving, telephone no. 310 735 7745, or email
Irving_jean@yahoo.com. Kaiser Permanente Hospital is located at 1526 N. Edgemont St., Los Angeles, CA 90027, telephone number 323 783 4011.

Source: PhilBoxing.com, Sat, 22 Aug 2009
Our readers may replay some of Base’s won games in our ChessViewer. Note: You must have JRE (Java Runtime Environment) installed in your computer to view and replay the games.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Palau chess championship starts August 30

THIS year’s Palau national chess championship takes place at two alternating venues—D. J. Cruz General Merchandise and Palau Royal Resort—both in Koror city starting on Sunday, 30 August, according to Tia Belau’s chess columnist Roberto Hernandez.

The closed championship will see in action four of Palau’s six internationally rated players, namely Menandro Manuel (1942), Cyril Montel Jr (1870), Gene Pastrana (1870), and Roberto Hernandez (1830). Palau’s two other rated players, Jose Omega (1870) and Manny Nedic (1830), had left the country for good one after the other.

Palau’s top four: Menandro Manuel, Cyril Montel Jr, Gene Pastrana, and Roberto Hernandez.

The country’s top player for the past four years, Manuel remains the heavy favorite to win the title. It may be recalled that he tied for fourth-fifth places, the highest among local entries, in the first international chess tournament held in Palau in 2006 that was won by New Zealand’s Hilton Bennett.

Meanwhile the next Palau international is planned for next year where Papua New Guinea champion Joselito Marcos (2200), a newfound correspondent of Hernandez, and Australian-Filipino chess prodigy Daniel Joseph Lapitan are among the invited rated foreign participants.

Pastrana continues to be a formidable contender together with Montel who now intends to incorporate silicon assistance in his preparation. Each of them is expected to give a good account of his self and offer defending titlist Manuel a run for his chess money.

The ever active Hernandez, who organizes the event with venue host Pastrana in addition to writing his weekly column Chessmate, is the tournament’s dark horse. His recent participation as Palau representative to the 2009 Oceania zonal championship held in Queensland, Australia would undoubtedly boost his chess stocks and confidence.

A musician by profession, Hernandez works at Palau Royal Resort, a five-star international resort hotel developed and owned by Royal Hotel Group and operated by Nikko Hotels International, which opened in June 2005. He has been a working resident in the country for the past 17 years.

Palau Royal Resort

The inclusion of three Bangladesh nationals—Masum Billah, Hasan Mamud and second timer Mohammad Manik—would add fuel to the excitement generated by this year’s championship which, Hernandez averred, shall be rated by the World Chess Federation known by its acronym FIDE. Palauans Tutii Joe Chilton, Francis `Sno' Temaungil and Morton Sawaichi lead the cast of local contestants who are out to obtain international ratings.

In the meantime, the election of new officers of Palau Chess Federation is planned to coincide with the opening of the championship. Current chairman Temaungil shall be persuaded to serve for another term at the top post.

Palau Chess Federation was admitted as a member of FIDE in 2005 and registered under the Oceania zone comprising of member countries in the South Pacific, namely Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (the zone’s most recent member).

Brief facts about Palau

Palau's new capitol

Palau, officially the Republic of Palau (Palauan: Beluu er a Belau), is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Tokyo. It comprised of 16 states, including the states of Hatohobei and Sonsorol located some 250 miles southwest of Koror. Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship (administered by the United States) in 1994, it is one of the world's youngest and smallest sovereign states. In English, the name is sometimes spelled Belau in accordance with the native pronunciation. It was formerly also spelled Pelew.

Further information about Palau may be obtained from the following links:


Monday, August 17, 2009

Pinoys' wins in the 2009 Oceania zonal

WE feature a selection of games won by Filipino players from the 2009 Oceania Zonal. The Chess Connoisseur used Chess Viewer for this post as it allows replay of multiple games and with annotations at that! A caveat though—the board display becomes fuzzy when you scroll up or down the page. This can easily be remedied by minimizing and then restoring your browser’s window.

Most notable were the couple of sensational victories scored by ten-year old Daniel Lapitan. The first against Fiji representative Gaurav Raicar (FIDE rated 1560) was the shortest game in the Open section, while the second was an upset of Fiji's top rated player, Damian Norris (2142). It would appear that Daniel has got the Fijians' number but this could not be confirmed as he has not played the other two Fiji players—Manoj Kumar (2017) and Calvin Prasad (1912) who both performed very well in this event. The onus is still on the Fiji players.
(Photo: Roberto Hernandez)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Benjamin Franklin's “The Morals of Chess”

HERE is the text of Franklin’s famous chess essay (mentioned in the previous post), which Franklin himself submitted to and was published in the Columbian Magazine in its December 1786 issue.

The Morals of Chess

The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions. For life is a kind of chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effects of prudence or the want of it. By playing at chess, then, we may learn:

1. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend to an action: for it is continually occurring to the player, “If I move this piece, what will be the advantages of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend myself from his attacks? “

2. Circumspection, which surveys the whole chess-board, or scene of action, the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers they are respectively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other; the probabilities that the adversary may make this or that move, and attack this or the other piece; and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.

3. Caution, not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired by observing strictly the laws of the game, such as, If you touch a piece, you must move it somewhere; if you set it down, you must let it stand. And it is therefore best that these rules should be observed, as the game thereby becomes more the image of human life, and particularly of war; in which, if you have incautiously put yourself into a bad and dangerous position, you cannot obtain your enemy’s leave to withdraw your troops, and place them more securely; but you must abide by all the consequences of your rashness.

And lastly, we learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favorable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such a variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one’s self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hopes of victory by our own skill, or, at least, of giving a stale mate, by the negligence of our adversary. And whoever considers, what in chess he often sees instances of, that particular pieces of success are apt to produce presumption, and its consequent, inattention, by which more is afterwards lost than was gained by the preceding advantage; while misfortunes produce more care and attention, by which the loss may be recovered, will learn not to be too much discouraged by the present success of his adversary, nor to despair of final good fortune, upon every little check he receives in the pursuit of it.

That we may, therefore, be induced more frequently to choose this beneficial amusement, in preference to others which are not attended with the same advantages, every circumstance, that may increase the pleasure of it, should be regarded; and every action or word that is unfair, disrespectful, or that in any way may give uneasiness, should be avoided, as contrary to the immediate intention of both the players, which is, to pass the time agreeably.

Therefore, 1st. If it is agreed to play according the strict rules, then those rules are to be exactly observed by both parties; and should not be insisted on for one side, while deviated from by the other; for this is not equitable.

2. If it is agreed not to observe the rules exactly, but one party demands indulgences, he should be as willing to allow them to the other.

3. No false move should ever be made to extricate yourself out of a difficulty, or to gain advantage. There can be no pleasure in playing with a person once detected in such unfair practice.

4. If your adversary is long in playing, you ought not to hurry him, or express any uneasiness at his delay. You should not sing, or whistle, nor look at your watch, nor take up a book to read, nor make a tapping with your feet on the floor, or with your fingers on the table, nor do any thing that may disturb his attention. For all these things displease. And they do not show in playing, but your craftiness or your rudeness.

5. You ought not to endeavour to amuse and deceive your adversary, by pretending to have made bad moves, and saying you have now lost the game, in order to make him secure and careless, and inattentive to your schemes; for this is fraud, and deceit, not skill at the game.

6. You must not, when you have gained a victory, use any triumphing or insulting expression, nor show too much pleasure; but endeavour to console your adversary, and make him less dissatisfied with himself by every kind and civil expression, that may be used with truth; such as, You understand the game better than I, but you are a little inattentive; or, You play too fast; or, You had the best of the game, but something happened to divert your thoughts, and that turned it in my favour.

7. If you are a spectator, while others play, observe the most perfect silence. For if you give advice, you offend both parties; him, against whom you may give it, because it may cause the loss of his game; him, in whose favour you give it, because, tho’ it may be good, and he follows it, he loses the pleasure he might have had, if you had permitted him to think till it occurred to himself. Even after a move or moves, you must not, by replacing the pieces, show how it might have been played better: for that displeases, and may occasion disputes or doubts about their true situation. All talking to the players, lessens or diverts their attention, and is therefore displeasing; nor should you give the least hint to either party, by any kind of noise or motion. – If you do, you are unworthy to be a spectator.-If you have a mind to exercise or show your judgment, do it in playing your own game when you have an opportunity, not in criticizing or meddling with, or counseling, the play of others.

Lastly. If the game is not to be played rigorously, according to the rules above mentioned, then moderate your desire of victory over your adversary, and be pleased with one over yourself. Snatch not eagerly at every advantage offered by his unskillfulness or inattention; but point out to him kindly that by such a move he places or leaves a piece in danger and unsupported; that by another he will put his king in a dangerous situation, &c. By this generous civility (so opposite to the unfairness above forbidden) you may indeed happen to lose the game to your opponent, but you will win what is better, his esteem, his respect, and his affection; together with the silent approbation and good will of impartial spectators.

Monday, August 10, 2009

First American chess players and writers

BENJAMIN Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, was widely believed to be the earliest chess player in the future United States who can be identified by name. A passage in his autobiography seems to indicate that he was playing at least around 1733.

“I had begun in 1733 to study languages. I soon made myself so much a master of the French...I then undertook the Italian. An acquaintance…used often to tempt me to play Chess with him. Finding this took up too much of the Time I had to spare for study, I at length refused to play any more, unless on this condition, that the victor in every Game, should have the Right to impose a Task…”

Moreover, Franklin was recognized as being the first person in the New World to publish anything about chess, through his essay “The Morals of Chess,” which appeared in The Columbian Magazine in 1786.

The Morals of Chess” turned into one of the most famous pieces on chess ever published. It has been translated into a number of languages, and in 1791 it appeared in the first chess-related book ever to appear in Russia.

Incidentally, in late 1974 The Chess Connoisseur has read and copied by hand Franklin’s famous chess essay from “The Chess Reader: The Royal Game in World Literature” by Jerome Salzmann (New York: Greenberg, 1949), a hardbound book borrowed from a public library. A few weeks after returning the Salzmann book, he was ready to borrow it again but was shocked and disenchanted to discover that it was among the volumes withdrawn by the library to provide space for its new acquisitions. Available copies, if any, of “The Chess Reader,” itself a valuable tome of chess literature, are rare and could only be obtained, if you are lucky, from chess collectors or sellers of antique books usually at a stiff price.

A Huguenot minister in New York City by the name of Rev. Louis (or Lewis) Rou was also documented as playing chess around 1734. Since Franklin’s “acquaintance” with whom he played around 1733 was not named, Franklin and Rou are apparently the first chess players in the future United States who can be definitely identified by name.

In 2003 David Shields, Professor of English at the Citadel, discovered that Rev. Louis (or Lewis) Rou also published a poem about New York chess players in 1744. This long-lost publication was discovered in the Library of Edinburgh in Scotland. The discovery was subsequently published in Chess Life, the official publication of the US Chess Federation.

Through this discovery, it seems that Rev. Rou now has replaced Franklin with the distinction of having written the first American publication on chess. The Rou poem was apparently written around 1735, so Franklin and Rou retain the distinction of being the two earliest-named players in the future United States. Yet Benjamin Franklin has a well-documented and secure place as one the earliest known players and writers of chess in the future United States.

The Chess Connoisseur is yet to get a glimpse of the purported Rou poem.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

An icon of democracy rests in peace

FORMER Philippine president Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino, who died of colon cancer last Saturday, 1st August, was laid to rest on Wednesday, 5th August, beside her late husband at Manila Memorial Park. Mrs. Aquino is hailed as an icon of democracy for having toppled the dictatorial rule of the late Ferdinand Marcos in a popular bloodless uprising called ‘People Power’ revolution in 1986.

Her death brought people from all walks of life together like her husband's, former senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, who in 1983 was assassinated as soon as he got down to the tarmac of the airport which now bear his name. While the funeral for Ninoy welded people together by anger and hatred against the dictatorship that of Cory’s united the Filipinos because of grief and love.

We could add forgiveness as explicitly expressed by the late president before her death through her youngest daughter Kristina ‘Kris’ Bernadette Aquino, a popular showbiz personality, who stated on national television that their family’s arch enemy for decades, the Marcoses, are forgiven. The next day after that pronouncement, the two Marcos siblings, Imee and Ferdinand Jr, paid their respects to the departed former national leader which were warmly appreciated by the bereaved members of the Aquino family.

Cory Aquino, it would be remembered, officially opened the 1992 Manila Chess Olympiad held at the Philippine International Convention Center. This biennial Olympiad, already the 30th then, was regarded arguably as the best chess Olympiad ever.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Two Filipino GMs conquer Vietnam chess zonal

AFTER the smoke of battle has cleared in the Vietnam Zone 3.3 chess championship held in Ho Chi Minh City from 23rd to 29th July, two Filipinos got the two qualifying berths to the World Chess Cup.

Grandmaster Darwin Laylo (FIDE rated 2494), who already qualified with a round to spare, wound up his impressive performance with yet another win in the final round and emerged as Zone 3.3 champion, one and a half points ahead of the other qualifier—compatriot grandmaster Wesley So (2646).

Needing only a draw to secure first place, Laylo conquered GM Zhang Zhong (2613) in the last round to register eight points (7 wins-2 draws-0 losses) in the 9-round Swiss System event. Laylo’s win enabled So to take the undisputed second spot following a draw with Vietnamese GM Ngoc Truong Son Nguyen (2592). This is Laylo’s second trip to the World Chess Cup.

Meanwhile, GM Mark Paragua (2487) also won over Vietnamese CM Hoang Nam Nguyen (2320) to grab the share of third to seventh spots, with six points.

IMs Richard Bitoon (2495) and Rolando Nolte (2458) both scored 5.5points for a of share 16th to 24th positions. Bitoon registered 4 wins, 3 draws and 2 losses, while Nolte had a very solid performance of 1 win, 8 draws (!) and without a loss.

Philippine chess living legend GM Eugenio Torre (2560) regrettably ended up last among the members of the Philippine contingent, following two losses against lower rated rivals–Singaporean FM Timothy Chan Wei-Xuan (2344) in round 6 and Vietnamese untitled Le Quang Long (2279) in round 9. He scored four and a half points (2 wins-5 draws-2 losses) for a share of 25th-32nd places.

Both Laylo and So will join countryman GM Rogelio Antonio Jr in the World Cup. Antonio had qualified earlier through his 6th place finish in the Asian Individual Chess Championships held in Subic, Philippines in May 2009.

The best ever performance of a Filipino woodpusher in the world championship was accomplished by Asia’s First GM Eugene Torre who made it to the candidates matches in 1983 but lost to Hungarian Super GM Zoltan Ribli in the quarterfinal. Torre also made it to the main draw of the World Chess Championships after topping the 1982 Interzonal in Toluca, Mexico.

In last year’s World Chess Cup, Laylo succumbed to French champion and super-GM Etienne Bacrot in the second round.