Battle of the GMs
25 April-3 May 2008
Citystate Tower Hotel
1 GM Wesley So 2540, 8.5/11
2-3 GM Eugene Torre 2519, IM Richard Bitoon 2420, 7.5/11
4 IM John Paul Gomez 2464,7.0/11
5 GM Rogelio Antonio Jr 2529, 6.5/11
6 NM Rolando Nolte 2420, 5.5/11
7 IM Julio Catalino Sadorra 2455, 5.0/11
8-9 FM Fernie Donguines 2362, NM Oliver Barbosa 2403, 4.5/11
10-11 NM Hamed Nouri 2392, GM Buenaventura Villamayor 2425, 3.5/11
12 IM Jayson Gonzales 2468, 2.5/11
I have been receiving a lot of email lately about the composition of the Philippine team to the 2008 Dresden Olympiad. Let me share with you this one from someone who calls himself Chris Gambit (by the way, for the benefit of the other BW readers, I usually delete without reading anonymous email. I make an exception here because Chris has been a long-time contributor):
“Greetings! GM So’s victory in Dubai is certainly the biggest news in Philippine chess for a long long time. His triumph is a portent of the good things yet to come from this whiz kid. I remember playing in a rapid tournament where Wesley (who was then a chubby 10 year old) was a guest player. He won all his games, but being a guest, he did not take home the first prize.
“When my games were finished, I would look at what was happening in Wesley's board, and he always had an overwhelming position. i thought ‘wow,this boy's really good!’. I've read about chess prodigies (Capablanca, Reshevsky, Fischer, Short, Carlsen), but seeing one playing in the flesh (Wesley So), is an awesome experience! I hope that the chess gods here in our country will let Wesley play top board in the upcoming olympiad. With all due respect to GMs Torre and Antonio, I believe Wesley is the strongest Filipino player right now. After all, the olympics is the chance for the competing countries to showcase the gains of their respective chess associations, and wesley has been the best that RP chess has to offer. Thanks and good day!”
I’d like to comment that being the best player is not the only criteria for playing on top board of a team. There is this equally important thing called “maturity”. When playing on a lower board sometimes you meet up with strong players (board 3 for Russia, for example, could quite possibly be Alexander Morozevich) and sometimes weak players. But most countries nowadays have at least one strong grandmaster, and if you are board 1 that is the guy who you will be facing. It is no joke to face the likes to Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, Vassily Ivanchuk, Boris Gelfand, etc in consecutive rounds, and you don’t get any relief. You could take a day off, maybe, but upon walking into the tournament hall the next day there would be another strong GM trying to wipe you off the board.
When it comes to “maturity” the name which comes into everyone’s lips is that of Eugene Torre. The usual strategy for a country like the Philippines with a deep bench but no 2600s is to hold on top board and hope that the lower boards deliver the points. Believe me, mere respect alone for the giant accomplishments of Eugene will cause many players to go for a draw. These same players would go for a win if they are looking at a 14-year old sitting down to play against them.
During the 2000 Istanbul Olympiad we were scheduled to play against Spain in the afternoon. Torre wanted to take a break and GM Joey agreed to play top board for that day. After breakfast, Eugene went out for a stroll and bumped into Alexei Shirov, who approached him and offered a draw. Eugene said sorry but he was not playing that day. Well, that afternoon the Latvian-turned-Spaniard Shirov blew away GM Joey on board 1.
Here is another email, this time from Jose Alexis Marquez, who when he is not playing chess handles the Point-of-Sale (POS) terminals acquiring debit card transactions:
“A lot of people are pretty excited on the possible composition of the Philippine Team in the upcoming Chess Olympiad. Some of them are saying that with the latest success of GM Wesley So in the recently concluded 10th Dubai Open, he is now ready to man the 1st Board. Not to take anything away from GM wesley's superb performance, I still believe that with proper training and motivation, GM Eugene should return and man the top board.
“We should not be in a hurry to expose GM Wesley to too much pressure. He must be given enough time to develop his strength. We should not commit the same mistake when GM Paragua was given the assignment to man the top board.
“Below is for me a possible RP Team composition.
Board 1 - GM Eugene Torre
Board 2 - GM Mark Paragua
Board 3 - GM Joey Antonio
Board 4 - GM Bong Villamayor
Board 5 - GM Wesley So”
Well, may I invite our readers to email in their comments? Given that our team members are So, Torre, Bitoon, Antonio and Gomez, what board order should they be in?
Eugene played a relaxed tournament in the Battle of the GMs, content to let his fabulous technique stretch his opponent’s defensive capabilities to the maximum. If the opponent is successful, then we have a draw. If not, then Eugene wraps up another neat win. Witness:
Donguines,Fernie (2362) - Torre,Eugenio (2519) [B02]
Battle of Grandmasters CITYSTATE Hotel (2.1), 26.04.2008
Well, Eugene is obviously playing for a win.
2.e5 Nd5 3.Bc4
The only advantage of this move over 3.c4 or 3.d4 is that it has not been played half as much.
3...Nb6 4.Bb3 c5 5.c3 c4 6.Bc2 Nc6 7.d4?!
Fernie decides to give up a pawn to drum up attacking chances. Otherwise he would have played 7.Nf3 Qc7 8.Qe2 with chances for both sides.
7...cxd3 8.Qxd3 Nxe5 9.Qg3 d6 10.f4 Nc6 11.Nf3
Black is experiencing some difficulty in developing his kingside. He has to plan the following moves out carefully. In particular, whether he plays ...e6 or ...g6 White would be advancing f4-f5 to break-up his pawn structure.
11...g6 12.0–0 Bf5! 13.Bb3 Bg7 14.Nh4 Qd7 15.a4 Na5 16.Bd1 0–0 17.Nd2 Nd5
[17...Be6 18.f5 Bd5 (18...gxf5? 19.Nb3 wins a piece because of the threat of checkmate via Bh6) 19.Bg4 Qc6 is also possible, but anyway Eugene was determined to prevent f4-f5, so he leaves the bishop on f5]
18.Nxf5 gxf5 19.Bc2 e6 20.Nf3 Nc6 21.Qh3 Nf6 22.Kh1 Ng4 23.Qg3 d5 24.h3 Nf6 25.Qh4 Ne4 26.Ng5 Nxg5 27.fxg5 Ne5 28.Be3 Rfc8 29.Qh5 Ng6 30.Bb3 Be5 31.Rad1 Qe7 32.Rf3 a6 33.Re1 b5 34.axb5 axb5 35.Bf2 Qd6 36.Rfe3 Bg7 37.h4 b4 38.Qf3 bxc3 39.bxc3 Ra3 40.Qd1 Rxc3
caption: position after 40...Rxc3
Typical Fernie - he manages to find a way to sacrifice some material
41.Rxe6!? fxe6 42.Rxe6 Rcxb3
"Falling into the trap" with 42...Qxe6 43.Bxd5 still wins for Black after 43...Kf7.
43.Rxd6 Ra1 44.Qxa1 Bxa1 45.Rxd5 Rb1+ 46.Kh2
Eugene's execution is remorselessly accurate.
46...Be5+ 47.g3 Nxh4! 48.Rd8+
48...Kf7 49.Be3 Rb3 50.Bf4 Bxf4 51.gxf4 Kg6 52.Rd6+ Kh5 53.Rh6+ Kg4 54.Rxh7 Rb2+ 55.Kg1 Kg3 56.Kf1 Nf3 Mate to follow 0–1
Remember a few years ago I wrote a limerick on Donguines?
There was a chess master from Army,
Who knew only attack, named Fernie
His offensives run asunder
Against a good defender,
But he has fun doing it, doesn't he?
And, one of our readers, Mr. Butch Arroyo, countered:
I once played an FM Donguines
Whose kingside attack was the meanest,
When the carnage was done
Donguines had won
Now, who was the GM between us?
Reader comments/suggestions are urgently solicited. Email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
"This article first appeared in Bobby Ang's column in Businessworld (Philippines) on 12 May 2008"