Friday, July 24, 2009

Filipinos in the Oceania Zonal

From left: R. Hernandez, J. Marcos, K. Tan, J. Tan, D. Lapitan, and R. Lapitan. (Photo: Ric Ambatali)

FIVE Filipino chess players, representing four different countries, saw action in the open section of the 2009 Oceania Zonal chess championship. They are Joselito Marcos (FIDE Rating 2200), Papua New Guinea; Kevin Tan (1956), Australia; Roberto Hernandez (1834), Palau; Daniel Lapitan (1287), Australia; and Fernando Aguilar (unrated), Solomon Islands.

The event took place in the Visions Conference Room of the Outrigger Twin Towns Resort in Tweed Heads, Gold Coast on the Queensland/NSW border from Saturday 20 to Friday 26 June 2009. Australia’s newly minted grandmaster David Smerdon topped the 9-round Swiss System event.

Kevin Tan, highest placed among the Pinoys, tied for 45-50 places, with 4 points (3 wins-2 draws-4 losses). Marcos (2-3-4), Lapitan (2-3-4), and Aguilar (3-1-5) tied for 51-61 places with 3.5 points apiece. Hernandez (3-0-6) tied for 62-66 places with 3 points.

Tan has only a solitary point in the first 5 rounds but made up for it by scoring 3 points in the last 4 rounds, which was only good for a rating performance of 1650 according to the Chess Results website.

Marcos, who has a starting rank of 20 out of 73 participants, was among the leading pack until his mobile phone alarmed in the midst of 4th round action against New Zealand’s Paul Spiller that dearly cost him the game. He was on 50% performance after 7 rounds but unfortunately lost his last two games. His rating performance of 1892 is tops among the Pinoys. Still it was a big disappointment because he prepared long and hard for the competition.

Eleven-year old Lapitan over-performed with a performance rating of 1751. Tallying 1.5 points only after 6 rounds, he scored 2 points in the remaining 3 rounds, and finished the event with an upset but convincing victory over Fiji’s top rated Damian Norris (2142). Daniel also registered the shortest victory in the Zonal open when he beat another Fijian, Gaurav Raicar (1560), in 12 moves in the fifth round.

Aguilar, easily the most senior among them at 67 and playing in his first international tournament, was winless over-the-board after 4 rounds. Having finally gotten accustomed to the zonal atmosphere after two days, he stabilized his play and scored 50% in the last 5 rounds for a performance rating of 1790.

Palau Royal Resort musician and chess columnist Hernandez, was probably awed by the strength of the competition and did not perform to his rating level. The international exposure, nevertheless, would likely boost his confidence in future competitions.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

An internationally published problem

DO YOU KNOW that the Chess Connoisseur is an accomplished problemist?

Here is his first internationally published chess problem that appeared in the May 1989 issue of Chess Life magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Chess Federation.

White: Kd5, Rg6, Bb1, Pc4, f2
Black: Kf4, Pf3, f6
White mates in 5 moves

Don't let the number of moves intimidate you from solving this! However, if you are stumped click the button for the solution.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Postings from the Closet Grandmaster

The July 09, 2009 posting of the Closet Grandmaster features the losing effort of Joselito Marcos in the fourth round of the 2009 Gold Coast Open that took place immediately after the zonal. Marcos is one of PNG's two representatives to the 2009 Oceania Zonal that immediately preceded the GC Open.

Here is the posting:

"The Joselito Hustle

The PNG's Joselito Marcos dropped in and posted an analysis of the last few moments of his game against Marc Vlietstra from the Gold Coast Open. Here's the starting position.

... Joselito takes over from here.

2009 Gold Coast Open
Vlietstra, Marc
Marcos, Joselito

41. bxc3 Bh3!

(Black only has 23 seconds left on his clock at this juncture; White still has more than 3 minutes.)

42. Qe7+ Ka8 43. Qg5 Rb1+

(An alternative was 43... Rb2. During the postmortem Vlietstra tried 44. Rg1? Bxg2+ 45. Rxg2 Rb1+ 46. Nf1 Rxf1+ 47. Kh2 Qh7+ 48. Kg3 and now with a clear head, and possibly more time, Black could win with 48... Rf8!. Correct was 44.Qg8+.)

44. Rxb1 Qxb1+ 45. Nf1 Qxf1+ 46. Kh2 Bxg2 47. Qxg2 Qf4+ 48. Kh3 Qh6+ 49. Kg3 Qg5+?

(The check on the WRONG SQUARE. In his excitement Black missed 49... Qg6+!! 50. Kf2 Qc2+ 51. Kg1 Qb1+ 52. Kh2 Qh7+ 53. Qh3 Qc2+ 54. Kg1 Qb1+ 55. Kh2 Qc2+ 56. Kg1 Qb1+ 57. Kh2 Qc2+ is equal)

50. Kf2??

(White panicked as he was becoming short of time while Black was gaining his. 50. Kf3! -- a shame that White overlooked this excellent chance -- Qf5+ 51. Ke3 wins)

50... Qd2+ 51. Kg1 Qd1+??

(Again a check on the wrong squate. With this move Black loses his second and final opportunity to even things up. For Black not to lose all he has to do is keep on checking on the long diagonal b1-h7. Better was 51... Qe1+! or 51... Qc1+! Check this out with your silicon friends.)

52. Kh2 Qh5+ 53. Qh3 Qe2+ 54. Kg3 Qe3+ 55. Kg4 Qg1+ 56. Kf5 Qf2+ 57. Ke6 Qxa2

(The game dragged on with Black stripped off his d pawn and White his c and d pawns but was able to promote his e pawn to a queen. The succeeding desperate checks by the black queen was deptly evaded by White to score the win.)

58. Kxd5 Qb3 59. Qc8+ Ka7 60. Qc7+ Ka6 61. Qc6+ Ka7 62. Qd7+ Ka6 63. e6 Qxc3 64. e7 Qf3+ 65. Kd6 Qf4+ 66. Kc6 Qe4+ 67. Kd6 Qxd4+ 68. Kc7 Qb6+ 69. Kc8 Qc5+ 70. Qc7 Qf5+ 71. Kd8 c3 72. e8=Q Qd5+ 73. Qcd7 Qg5+ 74. Kc7 Qf4+ 75. Kc8 1-0"

In an earlier posting dated June 29 (GM Jones wins GC Open) the Closet Grandmaster cited the results of the 2009 Gold Coast Open won by English GM Gawain Jones. After featuring a nicely played game of his own, he mentioned this incident that made impressions on him and the spectators:

"...It was a fun tournament overall and there were quite a few notable moments. ...there is my new mate, the PNG's Joselito Marcos. Like a typical Pinoy this man played to hustle. Down to his last few seconds, he somehow moved quick enough, eventually raising his time back to over a minute, and created enough confusion OTB that his opponent, Vlietstra, was forced to defend a won position! It was amazing to watch. Still, Marcos lost. The next day he insisted that it was only because he gave the wrong check..."

Having proved one's point deserves publication. Right, Mr. Closet Grandmaster?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting ready

Slowly the Chess Connoisseur is getting ready for his chess postings. Here is an old game played in the 1977 Cabanatuan Bicentennial tournament for replay.

Has anyone played the line chosen by Black before ?

Marcos,Joselito - Lao,Enrique
Bicentennial Cabanatuan (4), 03.07.1977
B33: Sicilian: Najdorf and Dragon Variations
(Annotations by the winner)

With just one and one-half points from the three previous rounds I found myself in a must-win situation going into the last two rounds to make it to the finals. This game was the first into that tough task.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 g6 7.a4

This move would be marked a novelty when one uses Mega Database 2009 as reference database because there was no game with this move available there. The continuations found there were:

(a) 7.Be3 Bg7 8.f4 d6 9.0–0 Bd7 10.Kh1 h5 11.f5 Qc7 12.fxg6 fxg6 13.Nf3 0–0–0 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.exd5 Ne5 16.Nxe5 Bxe5 17.c4 Rdf8 18.Qb3 Kb8 19.Rfc1 Qa5 20.a4 Rc8 21.Bb6 Qd2 Simunek,J (2056)-Plicka,P/Prague 2006/0–1 (38);

(b) 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng8 9.Bf4 Qb6 10.Qd2 Bg7 11.0–0 Qa5 12.Qe3 h5 13.h3 e6 14.b4 Qc7 15.Ne4 Ne7 16.Nd6+ Kf8 17.c4 Qa7 18.Qe4 Rb8 19.Be3 Qa8 20.Bc5 Kg8 21.Rad1 Bf8 Armengol Comas,J (2290)-Pla Ferreres,I (2045)/Spain 1998/1–0 (35); and

(c) 7.0–0 d6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Kh1 Bb7 10.Bg5 Bg7 11.f3 0–0 12.Qd2 Qc7 13.Bh6 Rad8 14.Bxg7 Kxg7 15.a4 d5 16.exd5 cxd5 17.a5 e5 18.Na4 Rfe8 19.Qc3 Qe7 20.Nb6 d4 21.Qa3 Qc7 Hilmer,K (1355)-Gmeinwieser,H (1669)/Germany 2003/½–½ (35).

7...d6 8.Be3 Bg7 9.0–0 e6?!

A move that could readily be condemned for it created an organic weakness—a hole— on f6.
Normal was 9...0–0 10.Nb3. Here Black had continued with:

(a) 10... Be6 11.f4 Na5 12.f5 Nxb3 13.cxb3 Bd7 14.fxg6 hxg6 15.Bc4 Bc6 16.Qf3 b5!?; the position was even but was won by Black in Bastrikov,G-Alatortsev,V/Leningrad 1938/0–1 (55); and

(b) 10... Bd7, as essayed by V. Ignacio against me in our local match in 1977. The game continued with 11.f4 Qc7 12.Kh1 Rac8 13.a5, White has a clear plus; Marcos,J-Ignacio,V/Cabiao, (m/3) 1977/1–0 (40)]

10.f4 0–0 11.Nb3 Qc7 12.a5!

This move gives White a clear advantage. On the other hand, needing a win in the crucial last round game of Araw ng Kabanatuan 1978 against R. Guillermo I played the double-edged 12.g4!? Rd8 13.a5 Qe7 14.g5 Nd7 15.Qd2 Nc5 16.Bf3 Rb8 17.Qf2 Nxb3 18.cxb3 Nb4 19.Ba7 Nc6 20.Bb6 Re8 21.Rad1, and after lots of complications. White went on to win the game and topped the tournament, 1–0 (47).


This was a prelude to a novel idea of kingside counter-play. The normal 12...Nd7 keeps White ahead.

13.Qd2 f5!?

The idea behind 12... Ne8. Each protagonist wanted to win and ventured into unchartered and dangerous waters.

14.exf5 Rxf5 15.Bb6 Qe7 16.Rae1 Bxc3 17.bxc3!? Bd7 18.Qe3

White still leads after 18 Bf3 Rf7.

18...Ng7 19.Bd3 Rf7 20.g4 Raf8

Black's best try for equality was 20...e5.

21.Qg3 Kh8

Black should try 21...e5.

22.Nd2! d5?

Black feared the knight leap to e4 so he prevented it. Instead, 22... e5!?² is the best option Black has.

23. Nb3!!

An exquisite switchback. Both 2009 Deep versions of Fritz and Rybka evaluated this position as winning for White.

22... Qf6 24.Nd4 Re8

Better but not enough was 24... Nxd4!? 25.Bxd4.

25.Nxc6 Bxc6 26.Re5

Also 26.Bd4 Qd8 27.h4 e5 28.Bxe5 is winning.

26...Rc8 27.Bd4! Qe7

If 27...Kg8 then 28.Ree1 Qe7 29.f5 with White winning.


A decisive breakthrough. Black ran out of time having failed to make 40 moves in two hours.


Friday, July 10, 2009

The Chess Connoisseur finds a new home

To all chess enthusiasts out there, here's good news. The Chess Connoisseur has found a new home at

Wait for further updates as we post fresh materials.

See you soon!

The old pages can still be accessed at: