Wednesday, September 30, 2009
For the first time in its three staging, the SPICE Cup organizers decided to have a second group of 10 participants with title norms are stake. True to expectations it turned to be an exciting one which almost eclipsed the Category 16 first group consisting of very strong juniors and last year’s champion.
The tournament, dubbed as a chess festival, culminated with a traditional farewell party and blitz tournament in the home of organizer Susan Polgar.
Two titles in SPICE Cup B
IM Ben Finegold achieved his third and final GM norm in the penultimate round while FM Daniel Rensch got his long overdue international master title with a draw in the last round against IM Ray Robson, himself seeking his 3rd and final GM norm to become the youngest ever American grandmaster.
Finegold, who led the B-tournament throughout, could have been the outright winner with a draw in the last round against Eugene Perelhsteyn. The euphoria of completing his title quest, however, caused him to lower his guard and enabled Perelhsteyn and GM Vinay Bhat to catch up with him.
A three-way tie resulted among Perelhsteyn, Bhat and Finegold, all of USA. Officially Perelhsteyn is declared tournament winner for obtaining the highest tiebreak score among them.
IM Ray Robson's failure to win his last round game halted him temporarily from achieving his aim of becoming America's youngest grandmaster ever. A win could have achieved for him not only that distinction but also a piece of the tournament top honors via a 4-way tie. As fate would have it, that was not to be. No, not yet! Robson can still achieve the honor from one of his next tournaments before the year is over.
The excitement generated by the fighting spirit displayed by the protagonists in the B group ensures that it will become a permanent fixture of SPICE Cup tournaments in the years to come.
Kuzubov wins blitz playoff, takes SPICE Cup A title
A three-way tie for first resulted in the SPICE Cup A-group among Yuriy Kuzubov (Ukraine), Dmitry Andreikin (Russia) and Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan), with 5.5 points apiece. Another three-way tie for last place ar0se among Jon Ludvig Hammer (Norway), Wesley So (Philippines) and Varuzhan Akobian (USA), each with 4.5 points. These results were an indicator of the equality in relative playing strength of the competitors.
The top three in Group A—Kuzubov, Andreikin and Mamedov—all scored plus one undefeated while the remaining three with minus one. Wesley lost one game against Hammer in round 2 and drew 9 games. Akobian got his only win from Hammer in the penultimate round against 2 losses. Hammer has the most number of wins with 2 and, consequently, with most number of losses 3.
The double round robin blitz playoff that ensued in determining the tournament winner provided some exciting moments in the otherwise ‘lackluster’ closed event in terms of sporting results (decisive games total of 20% only). Actually the playoff was not a double-round robin but rather a single round robin of two-game mini-matches.
The first round witnessed Kuzubov split his mini-match with Mamedov, 1-1. Andreikin trounced Mamedov in the second round, 1.5-0.5.
Standings going to the third and final round: Andreikin, 1.5 out 2; Mamedov, 1.5/4; and Kuzubov, 1/2.
The third and final round between Kuzubov and Andreikin started with a draw in the first game. Andreikin still leading with 2/3 and Kuzubov 1.5/3. The stage was set for a very exciting second and final game between the two. Andreikin needed only a draw to bag the title and the trophy. .
The final game saw Kuzubov edged out Andreikin who contrived to lose the endgame despite being both exchange up (rook against bishop) and one minute ahead on the clock! In fact Dmitry was the one who even lost on time!
Despite the high drawing percentage (the most prevalent result in closed events among players of relatively equal strength) most of the games were well fought out.
The Philippines number one player Wesley So, second seed in the event, failed to win a game to the disappointment of his many followers. The number of hits in Susan Polgar's blog showed his games and results were the most sought after by internet users.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
THE first ever international chess event in Solomon Islands’ soil took place in Honiara from September 24-28 and wound up a resounding success.
The visiting Australian players lived up to their billing as favorites by occupying the upper half of the cross table of the 9-round closed competition. However, this did not come easy as the Aussies encountered stiff opposition from the spirited Islanders. Their surge came only in second half of the 5-day tournament.
Initially ranked 3rd, Shaun Press emerged as the clear winner of the first Solomon Islands international chess championship. Press, a mainstay of the Papua New Guinea team to 4 consecutive Olympiads since 2000, registered an unblemished record of 7.5 points from 6 wins and 3 draws. With steady and cautious strategy he grabbed the lead in round 7 and never relinquished it.
Press is concurrently the secretary of both the PNG chess federation and the Oceania zone. He maintains a blog known as ChessExpress where he posted daily highlights since day one of the chess event .
FIDE Master Brian Jones, editor and publisher of Australasian Chess magazine, was also undefeated and finished solo second with 7 points from 5 wins and 4 draws. Brian is renowned as slow-starter but with a strong finishing kick—a character he showed again in this event.
Tied for 3-5 places, all tallying 6 points apiece from identical 5 wins-2 draws-2 losses counts, are FIDE Master Lee Jones, Fernando Aguilar and Kerry Stead.
Brandon Tangaibasa is all alone in sixth place with 5 points scored from as many number of wins matched with 4 losses.
The lower half of the cross table were occupied by Scarden Tesua with 2.5 points, Price Tepuke and Takika Tuata with 2 points apiece, and Budds Maruia with 1 point.
Local chess officials were very pleased with the performance of their local players especially their most experienced representative, Aguilar, who led all scorers with a perfect score of 5 points at the halfway mark after 3 days of play.
Aguilar, however, tired out in the second half of the event. His winning streak came to a halt when he was held to a draw by FM Brian Jones, which enabled Press to catch up and shared the lead with him after 6 rounds. He finally capitulated the lead to Press when he suffered a heart-breaking loss to compatriot Tangaibasa in round 7.
His woes were compounded by a second consecutive drubbing from the resurging Lee Jones. He ended the event with a mutual draw with Press in the last round. Still Aguilar’s performance can be described as superlative for having held his own against the visiting Australians by scoring 50% initiated by his win against Kerry Stead in the first round.
Tangaibasa could have caught up with the triumvirate of Lee Jones, Aguilar and Stead. However, instead of a win he suffered an unfortunate loss in the last round inflicted by compatriot Tepuke, demonstrating the fighting form and spirit of the Islanders. He is the only national, aside from Aguilar, who has scored a win against the overseas guests when he defeated Lee Jones in round 5.
Aside from the experience of an international competition on local soil all the resident participants will obtain FIDE ratings -the main objective of this event which was concocted by Oceania zone president IA Gary Bekker and organized by the Solomon Islands Chess Federation. The next FIDE Rating List comes out on November 1.
A benchmark has been set by this event which the chess federation will use as standard in preparing for and participating in future international competitions.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
ODETTE Alcantara, environment activist, writer, artist, friend of chess, and of the earth.
She breathed her last on Monday, September 21, after suffering from an aneurysm at the age of 68.
She collapsed on Sunday, September 20, after a luncheon with her sons and grandchildren Ara, Ika, Miguelito, Tish-tish, Nicolie, Super-love, Bambino, Bola, Tam-tam, Gio, Gia, Ryan, Ashton and Brianna (all pet names given by their lola) at the Heritage Art Center on Main Avenue in Cubao.
Odette Alcantara is a well-known ecological artist and environmentalist who is the convener of Mother Earth Philippines. She owns Heritage Arts and Antiques gallery which is the venue for many an artist’s exhibits and sometimes host to chess events.
She campaigned for the environment; an ecological artist, writer, convenor of Artists for the Environment, founding member of Earth Philippines and the ecological waste management project ‘Zero Kalat para sa Kaunlaran Foundation’ (Zero Waste for Progress Foundation).
Among the notable quotations from her many speeches and writings was the opening words in her speech at the celebration of the national hero Jose Rizal's birthdate June 19 - an activity organized by her at the Orchidarium, Luneta Park: "Ang Kalikasan ay mukha at katawan ng Diyos" (The environment is God’s face and body).
Odette has a passion for the game of chess. She has been very active two to three decades ago in organizing chess events for artists and writers like her —the group who would not bother to play in more competitive environment.
A journalist friend, Alex Dacanay, explained why Odette loved a chess game: “She didn’t see it as symbolic aggression, which it is, and which is why men are attracted to it. She saw it as a metaphor for planning and doing.”
“She had no problem holding up her game against fairly strong players. We called her Odettesky in mock Russian. She would challenge even [Florencio] Campomanes, the grand daddy of Philippine chess, with this line: ‘Defend yourself against the conqueror, men.’ Everyone took this in good humor and [they] were ritualistically slain.”
“Later, this became applied chess. It was how to checkmate garbage in three moves: One, segregate; two, compost; and three, recycle. Basura (garbage) resigns.”
Odette left her legacy as an institution in the environmental movement; she fought for Mother Earth and gave herself back to her…literally.
Thank you, Odette.
Online tributes to Odette Alcantara can be read from these links:
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Four rated Australians (wearing flower garlands) and six Solomon Islanders complete the cast of the first ever international chess tournament in Solomon Islands. Front row from left: Fernando Aguilar, Australians Shaun Press and Kerry Stead. Back row: FMs Lee Jones and Brian Jones. The other nationals in the picture are not identified. (Photo: Solomon Star)
THE ground-breaking international chess tournament in Solomon Islands kicks off on Thursday, September 24, at the Red Mansion Comfort Inn at Panatina Ridge, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
The official opening of the Solomon Islands International Chess Tournament was hosted at the Red Mansion on Thursday night.
The tournament system is a single round-robin (or all-play-all) format which means there will be 9 rounds of play. The first round takes place on the same day of the opening ceremony.
The participant roster include four FIDE-rated Australian players and six national players. The rated players are FIDE Masters Lee Jones (rated 2117) and Brian Jones (2065), Shaun Press (2076), and Kerry Stead (2087). The national players are Fernando Aguilar, Brandon Tangaibasa, Price Tepuke, Scarden Tesua, Budds Maruia and Takika Tuata.
The tournament chief arbiter is no other than Oceania zone president, International Arbiter Gary Bekker, who collaborated with the Solomon Islands chess federation in organizing the country’s first international chess event.
The only player in the Solomon Islands team who has played in an international rated event is Fernando Aguilar who represented the island nation in the 2009 Oceania zone chess championship held in Queensland, Australia last June. He, however, did not make it to the September FIDE rating list as he lacked one game from the required minimum of nine.
The Solomon Islands chess players will earn their international ratings after the tournament which ends on Monday, September 28.
The Solomon Islands chess federation is the latest member of the world’s chess governing body— FIDE (Federation Internationale des Echecs) to be registered under the Oceania chess zone which include the countries of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Palau.
Before the Solomon Islands the Palau Chess Federation was accepted as member of FIDE in 2005 and had conducted its first international tournament in 2006. Palau, incidentally, is currently going about its national chess championship this year with four of its six international rated players participating.
Both the Solomon Islands and Palau are yet to participate in the biennial chess Olympiad which was last held in Dresden, Germany last year. There is high hope that they can join in the next Olympiad scheduled late next year in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
Brief facts about Solomon Islands
The Solomon Islands are a uniquely, beautiful environment, wild and untamed. The landscape is mountainous with 80% of the islands covered in dense rainforest.
Located along the Pacific Ring of Fire, there are several active volcanoes and numerous uplifted atolls and coral islands.
The nation is largely untouched by tourism. Most of the population live in small villages and follow traditional cultures and lifestyles with hunting, fishing, carvings, handcrafts and subsistence farming being their main activities.
The Solomon Islanders are a friendly, warm and generous people who make visitors to their Islands feel most welcome.
Further information about the Solomon Islands may be obtained from the following links:
www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2799.htm - Facts about the land, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, foreign relations of Solomon Islands.
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bp.html - Features map and brief descriptions of the geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues.
www.lonelyplanet.com/solomon-islands - Solomon Islands tourism and travel information including facts, maps, history, culture, transport and weather in Solomon Islands.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
One of the fiercest and most politically charged rivalries in world chess resumed on Monday when former world champions Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov arrived in the Spanish city of Valencia for a rematch.
The two Russian grandmasters will play 12 games starting Tuesday. The new match will have 12 games – four semi-rapid and eight rapid – with Kasparov, 46, and Karpov, 58, facing off under the watch of Dutch chess arbiter Geurt Gijssen.
The rematch renews a battle that began in 1984 in an epic series of world title games that lasted five months and came to symbolise the competing forces then at play in the Soviet Union.
The Valencia rematch is being held on the 25th anniversary of that match, which ended in a draw because officials feared for the health of both competitors.
Kasparov, who is now 46 and a vocal opponent of the Russian prime minister and former president, Vladimir Putin, went on to beat Karpov in 1985 to become the youngest chess world champion.
At the time Karpov, now 58, was a darling of the Soviet establishment. Kasparov's youth and energy made him unpopular with the party leadership, but he did not become a dissident until after the collapse of communism.
Kasparov's eventual victory came to symbolise the triumph of youthful energy over the creaking Soviet empire.
Karpov regained his world crown between 1993 and 1999, but by then Kasparov, together with England’s Nigel Short, had broken away from the chess governing world body, FIDE, to form the rival Professional Chess Association. The Kasparov-Short breakaway from FIDE caused schism in international chess for more than a decade – a decision that Kasparov admitted was a “mistake”.
Karpov and Kasparov have played each other in a record 144 games, including 40 drawn games in their world title bout between September 1984 and February 1985. The two last played each other in 2002.
Chess legends Garry Kasparov and Anatoli Karpov said Monday they hope the re-match of their epic 1984 world championship this week in Spain will renew interest in the game.
"We are here to recover, if not a golden age at least a silver age, for chess," Karpov, 58, told a joint news conference with his old foe Kasparov in Valencia in eastern Spain on the eve of the start of their clash.
Kasparov, 46, who has been active in the political opposition to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin since withdrawing from competitive chess in 2005 and setting up his own political party, said the World Chess Federation "had let the game die".
"The chess that is played today is more technical, more aggressive, with younger players, but it has lost its glamour," he added.
"The duel will put chess in the spotlight once again, as it did 25 years ago," he said in an interview published in Spanish daily El Pais on Monday.
Karpov, who is taking seriously this match having arrived a few days early and bringing a team of assistants that includes strong grandmaster Viktor Bologan, drew White during the drawing of lots on Monday. Kasparov, on the other hand, who has not played competitively for 5 years since his retirement, only had training sessions with chess wonder grandmaster Magnus Carlsen in Oslo, Norway.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The tournament features six chess grandmasters in its Group A category which will be a double-round robin event. These players have an average rating of 2631, making it a Category 16 tournament. This is the highest-rated international round robin tournament held in the United States.
This is the first time that SPICE Cup included a second group consisting of 10 players playing a single round robin contest.
The tournament commenced on Saturday, September 19th at 1:00 p.m. in the Matador Room of the Student Union Building on the Texas Tech University campus.
Here is the list of invited participants in both groups.
SPICE Cup A Group – Category 16 (6-player double round robin) - Average rating: 2631 – Average age: 20
- Grandmaster Dmitry Andreikin, Russia, 2659, 18 years old (Top-rated Russian Junior and reigning Russian Junior Champion)
- Grandmaster Wesley So, Philippines, 2644, 15 years old (Top-rated Filipino and member of the 2008 Filipino Olympiad team)
- Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian, United States, 26 years old, 2636 (2008 SPICE Cup Co-Champion and 2-time Olympiad Bronze Medalist)
- Grandmaster Yuriy Kuzubov, Ukraine, 2636, 19 years old (2nd ranked Ukrainian Junior and 8th in the world)
- Grandmaster Rauf Mamedov, Azerbaijan, 2626, 21 years old (5th ranked Azerbaijani and member of the 2008 Azerbaijani Olympiad team)
- Grandmaster Jon Ludvig Hammer, Norway, 2585, 19 years old (2nd ranked Norwegian and member of the 2008 Norwegian Olympiad team)
SPICE Cup B Group – Category 11 (10-player single round robin) - Average rating: 2503
- International Master Gabor Papp, Hungary, 2562, 22 years old (Texas Tech student and member of the TTU Knight Raiders)
- International Master Davorin Kuljasevic, Croatia, 2547, 22 years old, (Texas Tech student and member of the TTU Knight Raiders)
- Grandmaster Eugene Perelshteyn, United States, 2542, 29 years old (2007 SPICE Cup Champion and former winner of the prestigious Samford fellowship)
- International Master Ray Robson, United States, 2527, 14 years old (Reigning U.S. Junior Champion and winner of the prestigious Samford fellowship)
- Grandmaster Andre Diamant, Brazil, 2526, 19 years old (Top rated Brazilian Junior and Reigning Brazilian National Champion)
- International Master Ben Finegold, United States, 2515, 40 years old (2-time U.S. Open Champion, 2-time National Open Champion and former winner of the prestigious Samford fellowship)
- International Master Gergely Antal, Hungary, 2486, 24 years old (Texas Tech student and member of the TTU Knight Raiders, 2009 National Collegiate Champion)
- Grandmaster Vinay Bhat, United States, 2474, 25 years old (2007 USCL MVP and former winner of the prestigious Samford fellowship)
- International Master Dean Ippolito, United States, 2459, 30 years old, (Former winner of the prestigious Samford fellowship and 11-time All-American)
- FIDE Master Danny Rensch, United States, 2388, 23 years old (Former National Elementary, Junior High, and High School Champion and 6-time All-American)
All ratings listed are from the September 2009 FIDE rating list.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
This is happening to some of the young generation of players. The symbols in opening literature found in the modern magazines and books such as + or —+ are taken as final by some young players. And then many of them get confused and cannot understand why they cannot reach a decisive position in the subsequent middle or endgame situations.
The opening books are only a tool, to be used properly to one’s benefit.
Certain openings will lead to quite definite middle game and endgame positions and this relation must always be kept in mind. In the Queen's Gambit for instance (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. cxd5 exd5), White can aim for the minority attack (two pawns against Black's three pawns on the queenside) which usually saddles Black with a backward c-pawn.
Therefore anyone wishing to play this line would do well to study also the endgame that teaches him how to exploit or defend this kind of position. In many variations of the Grünfeld Defense and the Modern Benoni, Black will go for a queenside majority of pawns while White gets a pawn majority in the center. As Black, one should know what to do in a typical Rook and Pawn ending with a queenside majority of pawns instead of finding it out over the board which may prove a psychological disadvantage.
What openings should one choose to lead to what type of positions? First of all one needs to know one’s self — one’s personality, likes and dislikes.
Those who are of the timid type looking for quiet and balanced positions one can stop thinking about studying the Sicilian or the King’s Indian. It's better to take up the Caro-Kann or Queen's Gambit Declined as Black or go for slow balanced variations involving 1. c4 or 1. Nf3 as White.
The following example illustrates the incompatibility between one’s temperament and the openings chosen.
An aggressive player who was good in his/her middle game but had an affinity, whenever given the chance, to fianchetto both his/her bishops, for instance Bg2 and Bb2 as White. Such variations lead to a slow build-up which was inconsistent with his/her style. Once this was pointed out to and was recognized by the player his/her game would be lifted tremendously and gain better results in future tournaments.
Once a player decided his/her traits, he/she needs to work out a repertoire for White and for Black. One needs to study well one or two variations as White and the same for Black. It is not wise to select another opening tomorrow because one had lost in this opening today, unless there are strong psychological reasons. Great players like Fischer, Kasparov and Karpov have a fixed repertoire of openings and are consistently successful in playing them.
One’s study of the openings and the subsequent play is all the more intensive and stimulating when one has a model, a star to revere upon, whose style attracts the player. One could choose Capablanca or Alekhine but we would advise selecting someone still alive, because he will still be creating new ideas for the determined player to follow until he/she is capable enough to be self-creative.
We would recommend that one just buy a basic text on openings for easy and convenient reference, but what is important is to keep a notebook beside one all the time so that he/she can jot down at that time what one had found or recollected whether in a train or in the club or elsewhere. Otherwise a player will tend to forget the vital fact or information that was available to him/her at that time.
The next thing is to keep in touch with what is going on. An aspiring chess player must have a good information system in order to progress otherwise he will find it difficult to survive at the international level.
Together with a good openings book like the one by Kasparov a good magazine to subscribe to is New in Chess edited by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam and GM Jan Timman. Some national magazines like the British Chess Magazine are highly informative. Australasian Chess magazine edited by FM Brian Jones is likewise informative.
For those who can afford more there are many books to choose from especially from Everyman Chess or Gambit Publications, but we would advise not to have too many. One will confuse oneself and clog the brain with more than one really can handle.
These days one cannot adequately prepare for competitions without a chess database and a chess playing software. We would recommend either ChessBase or Chess Assistant for one’s chess database system. A player needs not have both, just one or the other. For a chess playing software, most popular are Fritz, Rybka, Shredder and Hiarcs. Just like books, these software are instruments only that must be used for one’s benefit. The aspiring player must know how to use them to his/her advantage.
Previously the benefits of chess for children are only of the anecdotal variety and never documented. Nowadays, findings and researches, both formal and informal, abound attesting and supporting that chess is good for kids. Nations other than those of Europe and western countries like the United States of America and Canada have now included chess in their curriculum. The latest among them is the Philippines in Asia.
U.S. chess master Jerry Meyers believes that chess directly contibutes to kids' academic performance by teaching the following skills:
- Thinking ahead
- Weighing options
- Analyzing concretely
- Thinking abstractly
- Juggling multiple considerations simultaneously
- Children are taught the benefits of observing carefully and concentrating. If they don't watch what is happening, they can't respond to it, no matter how smart they are.
- Children are prompted to imagine a sequence of actions before it happens. We actually strengthen the ability to visualize by training them to shift the pieces in their mind, first one, then several moves ahead.
- Children are taught to think first, then act. We teach them to ask themselves "If I do this, what might happen then, and how can I respond?" Over time, chess helps develop patience and thoughtfulness.
- Children are taught that they don't have to do the first thing that pops into their mind. They learn to identify alternatives and consider the pros and cons of various actions.
- Children learn to evaluate the results of specific actions and sequences. Does this sequence help me or hurt me? Decisions are better when guided by logic, rather than impulse.
- Children are taught to step back periodically from details and consider the bigger picture. They also learn to take patterns used in one context and apply them to different, but related situations.
- Children are taught to develop longer range goals and take steps toward bringing them about. They are also taught of the need to reevaluate their plans as new developments change the situation.
- Children are encouraged not to become overly absorbed in any one consideration, but to try to weigh various factors all at once.
None of these skills are specific to chess, but they are all part of the game. The beauty of chess as a teaching tool is that it stimulates children's minds and helps them to build these skills while enjoying themselves. As a result, children become more critical thinkers, better problem solvers, and more independent decision makers.