Monday, November 30, 2009

Young Filipino GM Wesley So sends shock waves in 2009 World Chess Cup


WESLEY So. Filipino. 16-year grandmaster currently ranked 7 among world junior players. Seventh youngest ever grandmaster in the world at 14. Youngest ever national champion of the Philippines. Youngest ever Philippine chess Olympian at age 13 (2006 Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain). Winner of 2009 Corus Group C tournament.

He made the world took notice of his resounding wins over elite grandmasters in the second and third round of the 2009 World Chess Cup.

The Chess Connoisseur traces his Cup trek so far.

Defeated GM Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan, 4-1, in Round 1 (21-23 November). He won the first but lost the second of the normal time-control games. Won three straight games of the four rapid tie-break games.

Proceeded to Round 2 (64 participants remaining, 24-26 November). Registered a shocking and surprising win, 1.5-0.5, over the famous super GM Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine—the defeated 2001 FIDE world championship finalist; winner of various super tournaments and matches. Ivanchuk, having the white pieces in the first game, rejected a possible perpetual check and went all out for a win that backfired on him. He was not able to equalize in the second game and was out of the World Cup with a figurative thud that reverberated through the chess world.

Wesley proceeded to Round 3 (32 participants remaining, 27-29 November). Registered another shocking win over super GM Gata Kamsky of USA, the event’s defending champion; conqueror of So’s compatriot GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr (1.5-0.5) in round 1 and Chinese GM Zhou Weiqi (1.5-0.5) in round 2. So, playing black, outclassed Kamsky, himself a former chess prodigy and a defeated world championship challenger who admittedly chose the wrong openings, in the first game, a French Defense, and held the second game, a Dutch Defense opening, to send the latter home.

With outright wins in his two-game mini-matches in rounds 2 and 3, Wesley avoided playing tie-break matches and got two ‘free’ days for rest and preparation after each mini-match. He is now among the remaining 16 participants of the initial 128 entries. Will proceed to round 4 (30 November-2 December).

Already his present achievements have far exceeded all expectations from his home country, the Philippines. Still hopes are high that he can cash in on his winning momentum. The World Cup organizers already acknowledge his talent and potential in an article titled ‘There is a new rising star in Khanty Mansiysk?’ Read it here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bobby wins first junior chess title

AUSTRALIAN student Bobby Cheng has topped a field of 142 budding grandmasters to become the country's first under-age world chess champion.

Cheng finished the 13-day tournament in Antalya, Turkey, a half-point better than runners-up Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland, Richard Wang of Canada and David Paravyan of Russia.
His score of nine points from 11 matches comprised two draws, a loss and eight wins including a crucial final-round victory over the tournament's top seed, India's Suri Vaibhav.

Cheng moved to Melbourne from New Zealand in 2007, and started representing Australia last year. (He participated in the 2009 Oceania zone chess championship held in June at Gold Coast, Australia where he obtained his FIDE Master title together with his former compatriot Mike Steadman of New Zealand. - TCC)

The student from Balwyn High in Melbourne's east is coached by Australian Grandmaster Darryl Johansen, who two weeks ago won the Victorian state championship for the 12th time.

The world championships which finished on Sunday encompassed competitions for players in age-groups from under-eight to under-18.

A total of 15 Australians took part in this year's festival, with Sydney's Anton Smirnov finishing in a tie for second place in the under-eight championship.

Source: World News Australia

News of Bobby Cheng's unprecendeted victory can be read from the following online web and blog sites: The Australian, Chess Express, The Closet Grandmaster.

World Youth Chess Championship Category Winners

The players that finished in the top three places in each category of this 11 day marathon event are as follows:

U-18 General category
1- Maxim Matlakov (Russia) 9 points
2- Ivan Salgado Lopez (Spain) 8,5 points
3- Kacper Piorun (Poland) 8 puan

U-18 Girls’ category
1- Olga Girya (Russia) 8,5 points
2- Tsatsalashvili Keti (Georgia) 8,5 points
3- Kübra Öztürk ( Turkey) 8 points

U-16 General category
1- S P Sethuraman (India) 9 points
2- Santosh Gujrathi Vidit (India) 9 points
3- Maxime Lagarde (France) 8 points

U-16 Girls’ category
1- Deysi Cori (Peru) 10 points
2- Meri Arabidze (Georgia) 8,5 points
3- Paikidze Nazi (Georgia) 8 points

U-14 General category
1- Jorge Cori (Peru) 9 points
2- Kamil Dragun (Poland) 8,5 points
3- G V Sai Krishna (India) 8,5 points

U-14 Girls’ category
1- Marsel Efroimski (Israel) 9 points
2- Aleksandra Lach (Poland) 9 points
3- J Saranya (India) 8,5 points

U-12 General category
1- Bobby Cheng (Australia) 9 points
2- Krzysztof Duda Jan (Poland) 8,5 points
3- Richard Wang (Canada) 8,5 points

U-12 Girls’ category
1- Sarasadat Khademalsharieh (Iran) 10 points
2- Anna Styazhkina (Russia) 9,5 points
3- Aleksandra Goryachkina (Russia) 8,5 points

U-10 General category
1- Jinshi Bai (China) 9 points
2- Murali Karthikeyan (India) 9 points
3- Han Yu Zhang (China) 9 points

U-10 Girls’ category
1- Gunay Vugar Qizi Mammadzada (Azerbaijan) 10,5 points
2- Maria Furtado Ivana (India) 8,5 points
3- Hikmet Qizi Hojjatova Aydan (Azerbaijan) 8,5 points

U-8 General category
1. Aryan Gholami (Iran) 9 points
2. Tanuj Vasudeva (USA) 8,5 points
3. Mohammad Amin Tabatabaei (Iran) 8,5 points

U-8 Girls’ category
1. Ruotong Chu (China) 9,5 points
2. Samritha Palakollu (USA) 8,5 points
3. Yunshan Li (China) 8,5 points

Source: Official website of the World Youth Chess Championship

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kasparov slams Illescas 'confession’

AS The Chess Connoisseur went through the 25th anniversary issue of New In Chess (NIC) magazine (Issue 7/2009), he has just gone through its two-page table of contents and read in its reader’s opinion page, Your Move, the reaction of former world champion and world number one player over two decades–Garry Kasparov–to Spanish grandmaster Miguel Illescas’ interview that appeared in NIC Issue 5/2009.

In the article based on said interview by NIC editor Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, Illescas narrated his involvement as an adviser and trainer in two historic match defeats of Kasparov against the computer Deep Blue in 1997 and his pupil Vladimir Kramnik in the 2000 London world championship match.

Illescas noted that in the rematch with Deep Blue the only time Kasparov played normal openings (GK employed anti-computer moves in the other games) were in the second and sixth (the last) games. He further revealed that on the morning of the last day of the match the Deep Blue team had worked on the variation of the Caro-Kann that came up in that game.

Kasparov believes and still contends that the IBM Deep Blue team ‘cheated’ him. In both losses, he essayed variations he had never played before – the Smyslov Variation of the Spanish Opening in game two and the 4… Nd7 variation of the Caro-Kann Defense in game six, yet in both instances, the Deep Blue team had ‘anticipated’ and ‘worked’ on them, the last being on the morning of the last day of the match.

For Kasparov these incidents were never mere coincidences. At the outset of his letter to the NIC editors, Kasparov wrote ‘… far from alleviating my suspicions, several of his (Illescas’) comments justify, if not entirely vindicate, my abiding doubts about IBM’s behavior during the matches.’ He concluded that ‘on these points I feel he (Illescas) is asking for a much greater leap of faith than I am.’

Kasparov mentioned ‘the perils of having a competitor also (as) the organizer and arbiter.’ He has learned this bitter lesson and never involved himself again in any ‘scientific experiment’ against a computer like IBM’s Deep Blue that was totally dismantled shortly after the match.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

World Cup 2009 underway

THE schedule of the World Cup 2009

20.10.09__16:00 Players' meeting
_________17:00 Opening ceremony__CH “Octyabr”
21.11.09___Round I game 1_________Center of Arts
________________________________Beginning of the
________________________________games at 15:00
22.11.09___Round I game 2
23.11.09___Tie break
24.11.09___Round II game 1
25.11.09___Round II game 2
26.11.09___Tie break
27.11.09___Round III game 1
28.11.09___Round III game 2
29.11.09___Tie break
30.11.09___Round IV game 1
01.12.09___Round IV game 2

02.12.09___Tie break
03.12.09___Round V game 1
04.12.09___Round V game 2
05.12.09___Tie break
06.12.09___Round VI game 1
07.12.09___Round VI game 2
08.12.09___Tie break
09.12.09___Day off
10.12.09___Round VII game 1
11.12.09 ___Round VII game 2
12.12.09___Round VII game 3
13.12.09___Round VII game 4
14.12.09___Tie break
__________Closing ceremony
In the end of every competition day press conference with players will be held in the Press Centre.

Australian grandmaster David Smerdon represents the Oceania zone. The Philippines has 3 grandmasters who qualified to play in the event, namely Rogelio Antonio, Jr., Darwin Laylo and Wesley So.

Official website:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Boxing record holder Pacquiao is an avid chess player

MANNY Pacquiao, boxing's undisputed best pound-for-pound pugilist, registered an unprecedented 7 world boxing titles in as many weight classes when he blasted Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto to submission in the 12th round of their world welterweight championship match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, 14 November. Pacquiao's victory gave him Cotto's World Boxing Organization's welterweight title.

Pacquiao knocked down Cotto two times, one each in rounds 3 and 4. Pacquiao, the pride of the Philippines, won every round except the first and the fifth in another surprisingly dominating performance against a heavier, bigger and stronger opponent.

The Puerto Rican's corner was ready to throw in the towel after 11 rounds but the dethroned champion refused to quit but after sustaining more punishment in the final round the referee, Kenny Bayless, stepped in and stopped the carnage to protect Cotto, who was bloodied in the nose and mouth and cut in the brow, from further harm. The fight was dubbed "Firepower" which seemed to live up to it in the first 5 rounds, but from thereon it became a one-sided fight in favor of the Filipino champion.

The victory has cemented Pacquiao's claim as the best boxer in the planet. Together with his two-round demolition of England's Ricky Hatton, the former junior welterweight champion whose belt Pacquiao snared early this year, Pacquiao is a shoo-in again for ‘Fighter of the Year’ accolade. Similarly, his trainer Freddie Roach would be the undisputed ‘Trainer of the Year.’

Pacquiao is a multi-talented and physically gifted athlete who can sprint in the track oval, play basketball, and other physical games.

Before anyone think that this post is out of place, we would like to inform our readers that Pacquiao is an avid chess player. In between training sessions in the past, he used to play chess with his former promoter, the late Rod Nazario. Pacquiao admits that he, at times, applies principles of chess struggle in his boxing matches. This goes to show that the boxing champion's preparation and moves on top of the ring are well planned and thought out—skills derived from chess playing.

Consider the following:

During the 4th round at what still seemed a very close fight, Pacquiao put his back to the ropes, gloves up in a posture conveying a great dare, as he waited to take shots from his bigger rival.

"I wanted to test his power," said Pacquiao. "I heard that he is stronger than me."

His trainer and coach, Freddie Roach, yelled at him every time he used the high-risk ‘rope-a-dope tactic,’ "Why are you fighting his fight?" to which Pacquiao replied, "I can handle him!"

With his back to the ropes his rival Cotto freely banged his body which he pretended not getting hurt.

Fox News columnist Mark Kriegel observed Pacquiao "is also a daring, if underrated taking punishment with his back to the ropes, he had Cotto exactly where he wanted him."

Pacquiao explained "I was trying to control the fight," pointing to his temple, "in my mind."

Have the readers spotted any resemblance to chess struggle?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New chess talent on the horizon

Photo: Nottingham Evening Post

ENGLAND's answer to Utah's Kayden Troff and Gold Coast's Daniel Lapitan could be Mark Kenyon, who has recently won the country's under-11 chess competition.

Here's the full report from the Nottingham Evening Post by Tanya Holden.

'A nine-year-old boy has beaten youngsters two years older than him to become the England under-11s chess champion.

Ravenshead youngster Mark Kenyon has been playing chess since he was four and hopes to be a grand master in the future.

He won five matches out of five to be crowned the winner of the competition, held at Nottingham High School.

The win means he has qualified for trials to play for England.

Mark said: "I'm happy I won.

"I enjoy competitions, especially when I win them, and I hope to be a grand master one day."

The Ravenshead C of E Primary School pupil practices his chess skills every night with his dad and brother.

He also has weekly sessions with coach David Levens.
Mark said: "I find it all interesting.

"There are millions of combinations and I like using the pieces and getting them to work together."

Dad Alan said Mark wanted to join the chess club at school when he was in Year Two but was too young.

After Mark had won a few competitions he took the trophies into school and they let him join the club.

But Mr Kenyon said if Mark wants to be a grand master, the only way is to practice.

He said his son is currently one of the top three chess players of his age in the country.

"He's got a lot of ability," said Mr Kenyon.

"He's pretty confident on the chess board and that helps him.

"It's what makes the difference between being quite good and the best."

Mark will undergo trials for England in the spring.
Mr Levens said: "He is a future grand master without any doubt.

"He has a terrific attitude and is very confident in a pleasant way. He will overtake me."
The Chess Connoisseur is always on the lookout for young chess talents who are prospective stars of the future.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top Oceania players

THE top 3 places are occupied by Australia’s 3 grandmasters. GM Zhao Zong-Yuan and current Oceania Zonal champion and World Cup qualifier GM David Smerdon retained their September 2009 ratings and 1-2 places. GM Darryl Johansen lost 3 rating points but kept his 3th place ranking. IM Aleksandar Wohl gained 40 rating points and rose from 11th to 4th place. IM George Xie dropped to 5th place without any rating change.

New Zealand is headed by its only grandmaster Murray Chandler. Young IM Puchen Wang, targeting to become the country’s second grandmaster, is still a far second but keeps on improving.

Papua New Guinea is led by Joselito Marcos who came from a six-year layoff with a rating of 2115. He lost a huge amount of rating points (85!) from the 2009 Oceania Zonal. His last appearance prior to the zonal was in the 2003 PNG chess championship which he won undefeated. Stuart Fancy is in second place with 2104. PNG chess federation secretary, Shaun Press, recent winner of the Solomon Islands international, is tied with Helmut Marko with a rating of 2076.

Despite dropping 67 points (also from the 2009 Oceania Zonal), Damian Norris still leads the Fiji list with a rating of 2053. However, Manoj Kumar is now a near second with just 25 points behind.

Oceania Women Ranking by Country
Here is the list of top women players of each Oceania federations.


Top 10 chess countries

ONE of the interesting features of the FIDE Rating is the federation ranking which is based on the average rating of each country’s top 10 players. Russia leads the roster with an average of 2726. Asian countries China, ranked 4th with 2639, and India, ranked 7th with 2636, are among the top 10 countries.

Oceania countries

Australia, ranked 55th in the world, remains ahead of other Oceania federations, with an average rating of 2443. New Zealand is next but only ranked 75th overall with 2304, followed by Papua New Guinea at 117th with 2048 and Fiji, ranked 130th with 1835. Palau and Solomon Islands are not listed.

See the next post for list of top players for each Oceania countries.

Class of 1990 dominates top juniors list

WITH a meteoric gain of 29 points Norway’s Magnus Carlsen has increased his lead by 78 points over Ukraine’s Sergey Karjakin who has a rating of 2723. A close third is French champion Maxime Vachier-Lagrave with 2718. The first 5 places remain unchanged although Italy’s Fabiano Caruana went down by 10 points. Bulgaria’s Sergei Zhigalko took 6th place without any change in rating due to Russia’s Dmitry Andreikin’s loss of 23 points who dropped to 8th place. The Philippines’ Wesley So, despite losing 4 rating points, came 7th also on account of Andreikin’s rating dive.

Nine out of twenty, or roughly half in the list, are born in 1990. These include the top 3 – Carlsen, Karjakin, and Vachier-Lagrave. The others are Russia’s Dmitry Andreikin, Ukraine’s Yuriy Kuzubov, Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi, France’s Romain Edoard, Vietnam’s Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, and Russia’s Ildar Khairullin.

Girls list is Chinese’ domain

China’s Ju Wenjun’s gigantic gain of 66 rating points caused a major shakeup in the top girls ranking. Previously untitled and ranked 8th, Ju, now with the women’s grandmaster title, leaped to third place with 2509. Fellow Chinese GM Hou Yifan and Slovenian IM Anna Muzychuk retained their 1-2 places. Ukraine GM Katerina Lahno and Indian IM Harika Dronavali each dropped a rank due to Ju’s rise. The 5 Chinese girls in the list are among the top 11 players.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shakeup in November FIDE Rating List

FIDE has released its November Rating List with Norway’s Magnus Carlsen becoming the fifth player and the youngest ever to reach the 2800 mark. Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov remains on top with 2810 against Carlsen’s 2801. Currently undisputed world chess champion, India’s Viswanathan Anand is in third place with 2788. Levon Aronian of Armenia was just two points behind Anand but dropped a place due to Carlsen’s quantum leap.

There are now 35 players with ratings of 2700 and above. Two Chinese are in this elite group: Wang Yue with 2734 ranked 16th and Wang Hao with 2708 in 28th place. The highest placed player from the Americas is now Cuba’s Leinier Perez Dominguez in 21th place with 2719, outranking USA’s Hikaru Nakamura who dropped to 24th place with 2715. Nigel Short retains his position as top English player with 2707 in 29th place. Armenia’s Vladimir Akopian in 35th place has a rating of 2700. The rating 2642 is now only good enough for 100th place shared by Ukraine’s Anton Korobov, France Vladislav Tkachiev, and Russia Pavel Tregubov.

The Philippines’ Wesley So, who lost 4 rating points, dropped to 2640 and just out of top 100 in 102nd place.

It is a welcome treat for active and professional players including organizers that the FIDE ratings are updated and released every two months. With increase chess activities and advancement in technology this move by FIDE showed its keen sense for improvement. Previously FIDE used to release its rating list on semi-annual, then quarterly bases. There is reason to believe, and if the current trend is considered, that in the near future FIDE may come up with a monthly rating list.

Here is the list of the top 35 players (ratings of 2700 and above).

The list of the top 100 players can be found here.

Top three women places unchanged

The top 3 places among top 100 women players is retained by Hungarian GM Judit Polgar, Indian GM Humpy Koneru and Chinese GM Hou Yifan. A major shakeup in the top 10 places took place as Georgian GM Nana Dzagnidze, former women’s world champion Bulgarian GM Antoaneta Stefanova, and Slovenian IM Anna Muzychuk occupied 4th to 6th places, displacing China GM Zhao Xue, Russian GM Tatiana Kosintseva, and Swedish GM Pia Cramling.

Dzagnidze gained 12 points and jumped from 7th to 4th place; Stefanova earned 14 points and rose from 9th to 5th place; while Muzychuk lost 1 point but gained 2 places.

Heavy losers was Zhao who lost 36 points and dropped to 14th place; Kosintseva lost 14 points but still among the top 10 at 8th place; Cramling dropped 10 points and by 1 rank.

Here is the list of the top 15 women players (ratings of 2500 and above).

The list of top 100 women can be found here