Tuesday, May 2, 2006


[Bobby Ang]

Twenty-six year old IM Darwin Laylo got himself a seat in the Philippine team to the 2006 Turin Olympiad (to start on the 20th of this month) by topping the 2006 National Chess Open Championship held in the Marketplace Shopping Mall in Mandaluyong City with a score of 10.5/13.

The attentive BW reader might recall that Darwin first became national champion two years ago which in turn qualified him for his maiden appearance as a member of our national squad to the 2004 Calvia de Mallorca Olympiad.

This year three Olympiad slots were up for grabs in this national championship. FM Oliver Dimakiling defeated IM Richard Bitoon in the last round to finish solo second with 10.0/13. There was a multiple tie for the 3rd and last seat between FM Wesley So (the 12-year old sensation), IM Petronio Roca, and National Masters John Paul Gomez, Roderick Nava, Rolando Nolte, and veteran Mirabeau Maga. A double round-robin elimination event was held after the Holy Week in Tagaytay and So, by scoring 2 wins and 3 draws, made chess history by becoming the youngest ever player to represent our country in a chess Olympiad.

The three qualifiers IM Darwin Laylo, FM Oliver Dimakiling and FM Wesley So will join the seeded GMs Mark Paragua, Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio in Turin for the Olympiad.

Today we will introduce Darwin Laylo to our readers. Oliver and Wesley will be discussed on Friday.

Darwin was born to a poor family in San Roque, Marikina. His father was a tricycle driver and there was not much to do at home until one day his uncle brought a chess set and taught him the moves. It soon became apparent that Darwin and the game were a magical match, and pretty soon he was defeating everyone in sight.

I first heard about him in 1993. GM Joey Antonio had just gotten his International Grandmaster title and was invited to play in a giant Quezon City Open. He won it all right but had to endure an upset loss to a 13-year old in an exciting game.

Laylo,Darwin - Antonio,Rogelio Jr [E39]
Quezon City op, 1993
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 c5 5.dxc5 0–0 6.Nf3 Na6 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Qxc3 Nxc5 9.Bg5 Nce4 10.Bxf6 Nxf6 11.e3 b6 12.Be2 Bb7 13.0–0 Rc8 14.Rfd1 Qc7 15.Rac1 Rfd8 16.Nd4 Qb8 17.b4 d5 18.Qb3 dxc4 19.Bxc4 Ng4!
White wants to sacrifice a piece on e6, but Joey counters against h2.
20.g3 Ne5
A trap. 20...Qe5 might be even stronger but GM Joey was playing a kid who must might be enticed to sacrifice unsoundly with 21.Nxe6? when 21...Rxd1! wins the bishop on c4.
21.Be2 Qa8 22.Rxc8 Rxc8 23.Nxe6! Bh1?
Naturally Black cannot play 23...fxe6 24.Qxe6+ Nf7 25.Rd7 Rf8 26.Bc4, but the correct response would have been 23...Nf3+! 24.Bxf3 Bxf3 and both white's rook on d1 and knight on e6 are hanging.
24.Nf4 Be4 25.Qb2 f6 26.Qb3+ Kh8 27.Qe6 Re8 28.Qd6 Qc8 29.h4 Ba8 30.h5 h6 31.Kh2 Qb7 32.Nd5 Rc8 33.Qe7 Qc6 34.b5 Qc2 35.Nxf6! gxf6 36.Qxf6+ Kg8 37.Qxe5 Qe4 38.Qxe4 Bxe4 39.Rd4 Bf5 40.g4 1–0

Darwin finished 10th in the tournament and defeated several of our top players in the process - aside from GM Joey there was also Bong Villamayor and Luis Chiong – not bad for an unknown 13-year old.

Shortly after this brilliant performance he was recruited by NM Bong Cunanan into the San Sebastian chess team. This was one of the best moves that Bong ever made, for Laylo teamed up with Ronald Dableo to establish the San Sebastian dynasty in NCAA chess.

In 1999 Darwin won the National Junior (Under-20) Championship with a terrific score of 10.5/11, including a win over a soon-to-be-famous player:

Paragua,Mark - Laylo,Darwin [A08]
PHI-ChJr Greenhills (7), 22.05.1999

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.g3 d5 5.Nbd2 Nge7 6.Bg2 g6 7.0–0 Bg7 8.Re1 Qc7 9.exd5 exd5 10.d4 cxd4 11.Nb3 Bg4 12.Bf4 Qd7 13.Nc5 Qc8 14.Bd6 Bf6 15.Qd2 0–0 16.Qf4 Qf5 17.Nxb7 g5?! 18.Qxf5 Bxf5 19.Ne5 Bxc2 20.Nd7 Kg7 21.Nxf6?
Too much subtlety - he should have simply taken the rook with 21.Nxf8.
21...Kxf6 22.Na5 Rfd8 23.Bc5 d3
Now the tables have turned.
24.Nb3 Nf5 25.Nd2 Nfd4 26.Bf1 Re8 27.f3 Re6 28.Kf2 Rae8 29.Rxe6+ fxe6 30.b4 e5 31.Bh3 Ba4 32.Rc1 Ne2 33.Re1 Ncd4 34.Bxd4 Nxd4 35.Bf1 Bb5 36.a4 Bc4 37.b5 g4 38.Rb1 gxf3 39.Nxf3 Nxf3 40.Kxf3 e4+ 41.Ke3 Ke5 0–1

Next stop was the Asian Junior Championships to be held a few months later in Vung Tau, Vietnam. Bong Cunanan took Darwin to the Philippine Chess Society and asked for help in his training. He did not want the business-as-usual “training” prevalent in these times where you get some money from the Sports Commission for training in Baguio, and then spend your time there eating strawberries and flirting with girls.

The Chess Society through Sportsman Jerry Acuzar, Horace Templo and Rey Sarmiento managed to come up with the funding for serious training. I worked with Darwin for several days on his opening preparation and then arranged for a series of mini-matches with players of different styles using the time controls which will be in force in Vung Tau. The results were heartening as you can almost feel his confidence growing and strength increasing with every day. He even managed to beat GM Joey again:

Laylo,Darwin - Antonio,Rogelio Jr [A60]
Training Match Timog (2.2), 02.09.1999
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.g3 0–0 5.Bg2 d6 6.e4 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Nge2 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8 10.a4 Na6 11.0–0 Nb4 12.h3 a6 13.f4 Nd7 14.g4 c4 15.Be3 Qa5 16.g5 Nc5 17.Bd4 Nbd3 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.f5 Nb3 20.Ng3 Ne5?
A mistake. 20...Qb6+ followed by 21...Nxa1 wins material.
21.Nh5+! gxh5 22.Qxh5 Nxa1?
[22...Rg8! holds]
23.Qh6+ Kh8 24.g6
Black will be mated. 1–0

When the time came for the Junior tournament Darwin was in fighting shape – he started off in the first round by upsetting the heavy favorite to win, China’s Liang Chong. This is no mean feat – Liang had represented China in the 1999 World Championship and had even won their zonal championship.

Liang Chong (2415) - Laylo,Darwin [D85]
ASIA-ChJr Vung Tao (1), 12.09.1999
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.Bxd7+ Nxd7 9.Ne2 0–0 10.0–0 c5 11.Rb1 Qc7 12.Qb3 Rab8 13.Bf4 e5 14.Bg3 Qc6 15.d5 Qd6 16.c4 a6 17.a4 f5 18.exf5 gxf5 19.f3 b6 20.Qd3 Rbe8 21.Nc3 Qh6 22.Rbe1 e4 23.fxe4 f4 24.Bf2 Ne5 25.Qd1 Rf6 26.Kh1 Rg6 27.Bg1 Qg5 28.Qc2 Ng4 29.Rf3 Bd4
The threat is ...Qh4, threatening the rook on e1 as well as ...Bxg1
30.Re2 Ne5 31.Ref2
[31.Rf1 f3 32.Rd2 Nxc4 33.Bxd4 Nxd2 is hopeless for White]
31...Nxf3 32.Rxf3 Qe5 0–1

Liang Chong was not able to recover from this loss. All throughout the tournament it was Darwin, Malaysia’s Hafizulhelmi Mas and India’s Krishnan Sasikiran (now a super GM) who fought for the lead. Even Iran’s highly-touted Ehsan Ghaem Maghami (now also a super GM) could not catch up with the scorching pace and was a non-factor.

Although Laylo lost to both his co-leaders he defeated everybody else and his do-or-die stance greatly impressed the public. At the end he became Vice Junior Champion of Asia by finishing solo second to Sasikiran.

When he came home to the Philippines Darwin had arrived, both literally and figuratively – he was already considered among the top players in the country. And that is where we have to cut this story of his early years up to the time he became an international campaigner.

A few years ago during a training session I noted to Darwin that his Black openings were not impressive, and suggested a switch to more open positions with the Scandinavian. I then handed him my “secret weapon”, a CD containing secret analyses prepared over several years on the Scandinavian including a complete repertoire against White’s possible replies. This also included every known/existing game on the Scandinavian in chess history with all games catalogued per variation. Darwin took this up quite seriously and is now probably the country’s greatest expert on the Scandinavian.

And this is where I will end the Darwin Laylo story, with his latest Scandinavian conquest in the tournament just concluded.

Milagrosa,Alex (2223) - Laylo,Darwin (2406) [B01]
2006 National Chess Open Ch Mens (4.1),
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.dxe6 Bxe6 5.d4
It looks like White is doing fine, with an extra pawn and a strong center. In reality he has to be very careful in order to survive into the middlegame.
5...Bb4+ 6.Nc3 Ne4
Now Milagring realized the gravity of his situation and thought for a long time here. At the end he just decides to give up a pawn without, however, improving his prospects.
[7.Qd3 Bf5! 8.Qf3 a) 8.Bd2? 0–0 9.Nxe4 (9.0–0–0 is refuted by 9...Nxc3 10.Qxf5 Nxd1 11.Bxb4 Qxd4) 9...Bxe4 10.Qe3 Re8 wins the queen; b) 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 0–0 10.Qf3 Re8 11.Be2 Qd7 12.Bb2 Nc6 13.g4 Bg6 14.0–0–0 Na5 15.Rd3 Nxc4 16.Re3 Ned2 17.Qxb7 Reb8 18.Qg2 Qb5 19.Ba1 Qb1# 0–1 Bilalic,M-Vescovi,G (2490)/ WJuCh, Medellin COL 1996; 8...Qxd4!]
7...Nxc3 8.Qd3 Qe7
Only on the 7th move, and White is already critical.
9.Be3 Ne4+ 10.axb4 Qxb4+ 11.Kd1
[11.Bd2 Qxb2 12.Rd1 Nxd2 13.Rxd2 Qa1+ 14.Rd1 Qa5+ 15.Rd2 0–0 16.Be2 Bf5! 17.Qb3 Nc6 18.Nf3 Be4 19.0–0 Bxf3 20.Ra2 Nxd4 0–1 Paaske,A (2038)-Simonsen,O (2183)/ Copenhagen 2000]
11...Qxb2 12.Qa3 Qxa3?
Black overlooks 12...Nxf2+
] 13.Rxa3 c6 14.Nf3 Nd7 15.Kc2 0–0 16.Bd3 Nd6 17.Nd2 Rfc8 18.Bf4 Nf5 19.Nf3 Nf6 20.h3 Rd8 21.Kc3 b5! 22.Bg5 bxc4 23.Bxf6³ gxf6 24.Bxf5 Bxf5 25.Ra5 Rd5 26.Rha1 Re8 27.Rxa7 Kg7 28.Re1 Rxe1
White has to be careful here otherwise he will be mated.
29.Nxe1 Rb5 30.Ra1 Be6 31.Ra3 Rb1 32.Kd2 Rb2+ 33.Nc2 Bf5 34.Rc3 Bd3 35.Kc1 Rb8 36.Na3 Rb4 37.Nc2 Ra4 38.Ne1 Ra1+ 39.Kd2 Ra2+ 40.Nc2 f5 41.Kc1 f4 42.Kb1?
The pressure was too much - White crumbles.
42...Rxc2 43.Rxc2 Kf6 44.Kb2 Bxc2 45.Kxc2 Ke6 0–1

Reader comments/suggestions are urgently solicited. Email address is bobby@cpamd.net

"This article first appeared in Bobby Ang's column in Businessworld (Philippines) on 01 May 2006"

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