Saturday, March 1, 2008


[Bobby Ang]

Festival of Games
11-17 February 2008
Cannes, France

Final Top Standings

1-3 GM Christian Bauer FRA 2614, GM Ruben Felgaer CUB 2539, IM Joseph Sanchez PHI 2492, 7.0/9
4-8 GM Hichem Hamdouchi MOR 2576, GM Ognjen Cvitan CRO 2535, IM Gergely Antal HUN 2457, IM Oleg Gladyszev RUS 2485, GM Miroljub Lazic YUG 2512, 6.5/9
9-17 GM Ante Saric CRO 2438, GM Igor Miladinovic YUG 2604, GM Jozsef Horvath HUN 2519, IM Benjamin Bujisho FRA 2387, Vladimir Doncea ROM 2444, Sebastien Midoux FRA 2338, IM Pierluigi Piscopo ITA 2357, FM Daniyyl Dvirnyy ITA 2326, FM Clovis Vernay ITA 2391, 6.0/9
Total of 110 players

Here is what I wrote about Joseph Sanchez 9 years ago during the 1999 Philippine Chess Championship:

“ ‘Chess is a game to subdue the turbulent spirit, and to puzzle a tranquil mind’ (William Hartston, “Kings of Chess”). I remember this line whenever the name of Joseph Sanchez is mentioned. Wherever you see him he is invariably seated in a corner quietly observing the proceedings, never speaking until he is spoken to. Polite, mild-mannered, this immediately changes when you mention anything remotely involving chess. Then a broad smile comes to his face and he becomes animated, explaining this and that with accompanying gestures and jokes.

“His chess is geared towards the attack. Hardly a game passes by without some display of a new tactical motif with accompanying fireworks. What was keeping him from joining the very elite of Philippine chess was a lack of stick-to-it-iveness (for lack of a better word). His offense sometimes crumbles in the face of resourceful defense, and he is usually not at his best when defending inferior endgames.

“All of that changed when, as fate would have it, he was matched against GM Antonio is the first round of the grand finals. Joey got a strong grip on the position right out of the opening, drained out any possible complicating tactics, and headed into an endgame where he expected to outplay Sanchez. Joseph, still riding on the crest of a win streak from the eliminations, resisted with might and main and forced a draw on the 65th move. As if a veil had been lifted from his eyes, he realized that he had it in him to fight with the very best.

“Starting from round 2 he was a changed man – no more middlegame collapses, no more losses of concentration, just a committment to constantly bombard his opponent with everything he has got. Yes, Joseph Sanchez has arrived. We expect to hear a lot more about him in tournaments to come!”

Joseph Sanchez left for Europe six years ago to try his luck and we have chronicled his exploits in this column. His games have greatly improved in quality and in fact he has reached a point where defeating an International Grandmaster is no longer considered extraordinary. Bad luck has dogged him, however, and I don’t remember how many times he has missed the GM norm, sometimes by half a point, sometimes making a good performance rating but missing out on the norm just the same because there were not enough GMs playing in the tournament.

It is only now that Sanchez has scored his first GM norm. Just like a millionaire whose first million is the hardest, we hope that by breaking the ice the rest of the norms (he needs 2 more) will come quickly.

The game that I am about to show you features the Sveshnikov Sicilian. Joseph is a specialist in this line and he used to play it long before it became popular in the turn of the new century. He is hit by a theoretical novelty on the 18th (!) move but was able to spot the weakness and refuted the new move on the board.

Lamoureux,Charles (2492) - Sanchez,Joseph (2353) [B33]
Cannes FIJ open (4), 13.02.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6 gxf6 10.Nd5 f5 11.Bd3 Be6 12.c3 Bg7 13.0–0 0–0 14.Nc2 Rc8

Ever wonder why Black cannot play 14...fxe4 15.Bxe4 f5? Well the answer is because White has 16.Nf4!

15.Nce3 fxe4

The text is better than 15...f4?! which is answered by 16.Nf5 Bxf5 17.exf5 followed by 18.Be4 or 18.a4.

16.Bxe4 f5 17.Bc2 Ne7

Here is another pitfall that you should be aware of: 17...f4? 18.Qh5 Rf7 (18...h6? 19.Qg6 wins) 19.Bxh7+ Kf8 20.Bg6 likewise wins.


This is a new move. Lamoureux was probably not convinced of 18.Nxe7+ Qxe7 19.Qh5? (19.a4 is better) 19...e4 20.g4 Rc5! 21.gxf5 Bxf5 22.Nxf5 Rcxf5 23.Qe2 d5 Black is already winning. Abreu,D-Blanco,C (2172)/ Colonia Tovar 1999 1–0 (27).


Joseph's plan on facing the novelty is: (1) do not lash out! this is precisely what the opponent wants when he unleashes a novelty, (2) get the king to safety, (3) exchange off at least a pair of pieces to limit the tactics, (4) what is the weakness of the new move? Well, after ...exf4 White might not be able to recapture immediately because the black bishop can either go to e5 or h6.

19.Bb3 Rc5 20.Qd2 Nxd5 21.Nxd5

Less advisable is 21.Bxd5 exf4 22.Rxf4 Bh6 White is going to lose some material.


Threatening to win a piece with ...a5-a4.

22.Ne3 Bc8 23.a3 exf4 24.Nd5

[24.Rxf4? Re5! 25.Nd5 Bh6 wins the exchange]

24...Be6 25.Ba2

[25.Rxf4? is still not possible: 25...Bxd5 26.Bxd5 Bh6]

25...Bxd5 26.Bxd5 Be5 27.Rf3 Qf6 28.Rd1 Rb8

Intending to push his b-pawn.

29.Kh1 Rc7 30.Qd3 b4 31.axb4 axb4 32.cxb4 Rxb4 33.b3 Rd4 34.Qf1 Rxd1 35.Qxd1 Bb2! 36.Rf1

[36.Bc4 will lead to the same thing as in the actual game: 36...Ra7 37.Rf1 Ra1 38.Qf3 Rxf1+]

36...Rc1 37.Qf3 Rxf1+ 38.Qxf1 Qe5

Joseph has reached a pawn-up endgame, but this is not yet enough to win due to the presence of the opposite colored bishops. He has to drum up a kingside attack to force more white weaknesses.

39.Qd1 Bd4 40.Bf3 Bc5 41.Bd5 Kg7 42.Bc4 Kf6 43.Qb1 h5 44.h3 d5 45.Bd3 Bd6

Threatening ...f4-f3.

46.Qg1 Qc3 47.Qb1

caption: position after 47.Qb1

47...f3! 48.Qf1

[48.gxf3 Qd2 wins because of the threatened checkmate on h2]

48...Qe5 49.Kg1

[49.Qg1 f2]

49...Qh2+ 50.Kf2 Qg3+ 51.Kg1 0-1

White resigns without waiting for 51...fxg2 52.Qd1 Bc5 checkmate.

Congressman Pichay promised 5 GMs for this year. Hmmm ... let us see ... Jayson Gonzales, Joseph Sanchez, Roland Salvador, Ronald Dableo, Oliver Dimakiling, Rolly Martinez ... Yup! It is attainable.

Reader comments/suggestions are urgently solicited. Email address is

"This article first appeared in Bobby Ang's column in Businessworld (Philippines) on 29 February 2008"

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