By Frank ‘Boy’ Pestaño


Friday, December 17, 2010

SIXTY-FOUR have qualified to the Women’s World Chess Championship being held at Hatay, Turkey, from De. 2 to 25. It is knockout tournament featuring two-game mini-matches per round, until the final and 6th round, which is a four-game match to determine the champion.

In the event of a draw after two games, there will be a rapid game tie-breaker, followed by a possible blitz playoff, and finally an Armageddon blitz game. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, and a 30-second increment per move.

The semifinals are now being played. The remaining players are Koneru Humpy of India, and China’s Hou Yifan, Zhao Xue and Ruan Lufei.

Out is defending Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk who lost to Ruan Lufei, Kateryna Lahno who lost to Hou Yifan, the Muzychuk sisters, Anna and Mariya, Almira Skripchenko and US champion Anna Zatonskih.

The performance of the Chinese players is astonishing. Also extraordinary is the absence of European and American players in the semifinals.

For a long time, women chess has been dominated by Eastern Europeans, especially Georgia. Russia won the women‘s team in the last Olympiad and Georgia was third.

Koneru will play against Hou in the semifinal. That will be a repeat of their 2008 semifinal match, which Hou won. It is an unfortunate pairing as Koneru is the highest-ranked player in the field and Hou is the second highest. They should have met in the finals.

London Chess Classic 2009 was a huge success that the organizers decided to do a repeat this year. It has joined the ranks of super Major tournaments like Linares, Wijkaan Zee, Nanjing, Bilbao and Amber.

Boy wonder Magnus Carlsen won after an incredible comeback winning in the last three games.

Final scores (Elo, age, score): 1)Carlsen (2802,20,13); 2) Viswanathan Anand (2804,41,11); 3) Luke Mcshane (2645,26,11); 4) Hikaru Nakamura (2772, 23,10); 5) Vladimir Kramnik (2765,35,10); 6) Michael Adams (2725,39,8); 7) David Howell (2611,20,4); 8) Nigel Short (2680,46,2).

The tournament was an eight-player, round-robin format. Time control is 40 moves for two hours, one hour for the next 20 moves and 15 minutes with 30-second increment for the rest of the game.

Sofia Rules were in effect, which means no draws were allowed unless approved by the arbiter. Also Scoring is Bilbao with three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a loss.

Prizes: 1st, 50,000 Euros; 2nd, 25,000 Euros; 3rd, 15,000 Euros; 4th, 10,000 Euros; 5th, 10,000 Euros; 6th, 8,000 Euros, plus seven daily Best Game prizes of 1,000 Euros voted on by the public.

NATIONAL. Three members of the Philippine team that won the silver medal in the recent Asian Games will play in the National Inter-Cities and Municipalities chess team championship tomorrow Dec. 18-19 at the People’s Astrodome in Dagupan City.

Wesley So will play for Makati, while John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo will play for Quezon City and Mandaluyong, respectively.

Aside from the three teams, 30 other cities and municipalities have already confirmed their participation in the contest, which offers a guaranteed cash prize of P70,000 to the champion.

“The entry of the three national players, who made the country proud in the recent Asian Games, will add luster to the season-ending tournament,” said NCFP president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

CEPCA. After our Christmas party and the induction of the 2011-12 officers and members of the board of trustees, we had a mini-tournament last week in my residence in Mabolo.

The winner was Harrison Chua, followed by the Kiddies Kyle Sevillano, Alan Pason, and Felix Shaun Balbona. Fifth place was bagged by Junard Labadan.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2010.