Saturday, May 10, 2008


[Bobby Ang]

Battle of the GMs
25 April-3 May 2008
Citystate Tower Hotel

Final Standings

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

caption: GM Wesley So

GM Wesley So has just confirmed what the ratings table suggest – that he is the top player of the Philippines. He emerged unscathed after 11 grueling rounds and topped the field by scoring 6 wins and 5 draws for 8.5/11. Living legend Eugene Torre, the only other undefeated player, finished a point behind, tied for 2nd-3rd places with Richard Bitoon at 7.5/11.

With the end of publication of Manny Benitez’ “The Chess Plaza Weekender” and its hard-hitting commentary “From my Swivel Chair” I thought to take up the slack and bit and do a bit of commentary myself. So here they are:

1. There is, of course, no such animal as a super-grandmaster, as Hon. Florencio Campomanes loves to say. The truth is that the only international titles for over-the-board play (men) are Candidate Master (abbreviated as CM, for those players with ratings of at least 2200), FIDE Master (FM, rating of at least 2300), International Master (IM, rating of at least 2400), and International Grandmaster (GM rating of at least 2500). A super-Grandmaster is simply an adjective to denote a grandmaster who is really very strong and regularly beats other grandmasters. Usually the demarcation line for this is the attainment of a FIDE rating in excess of 2600 pts.

2. The reason I bring up this thing about the super-GM is because some ignorant reporters (take note that I make a point not to call them journalists) have written that Wesley’s next goal is to attain the title of super-grandmaster, and that he already scored one super-GM norm by winning the Dubai Open.

3. Well, of course that thing about attaining the super-GM title and the norm is just plain stupid, but on the other hand it is true that Wesley’s next goal is to bring his rating up to 2600. How is he doing in this regard? Well, he gained 18.7 points by winning in Dubai, and a further 11.8 points with his victory in his 6-game match with Indonesian Champion Susanto Megaranto. This latest Battle of the GMs triumph is an additional 15.7 pts. Add all of this up to his current rating of 2540 and we come up with a new rating of 2586.

4. Wesley still has two big tournaments coming up this month. The 2nd Philippine Open International Tournament is scheduled May 6-15 at the La Legenda Hotel in Subic Bay Freeport followed immediately by the 3rd Philippine Open from May 15-24 in Pampanga. Both tournaments are 11-round Swiss system events. Hopefully, Wesley So can keep up his strength, sustain the fine form, and bring home the bacon.

5. It was announced that the result of this tournament will determine the Philippine team to the Dresden Chess Olympiad which will start November 12. If that information is correct then our representatives will consist of GM Wesley So, GM Eugene Torre, IM Richard Bitoon, IM John Paul Gomez and GM Rogelio Antonio Jr. (starting Dresden, each team will have 5 players instead of the 6 of previous Olympiads). My assessment of this squad is that it is quite strong and should do well in Dresden.

6. Hopefully, they get a real team captain to whip them into shape and lead the Filipino charge, and then my confidence level is high that they can land in the top 20. Please, no more junkets for politicians or hangers-on. A team captain is not a ceremonial position. The team captain has to attend to the accommodations of the players, see to it that they are psyched and ready for battle during the games. He also has to look around the tournament hall at the potential opponents and keep track of who is hot and who is not. Also, he has to go over the tournament bulletins and take note of the openings that are being played and the latest theoretical trends. A very important role which is completely overlooked in many cases.

7. GM Mark Paragua did not take part because he had gone to the States to campaign. I am not sure whether Cong. Pichay intends to bring him home to beef up the team. We will postpone discussion of this nagging question for another column.

8. I was wondering about the participation of Fernie Donguines in this tournament. If you do a bit of research, it becomes obvious that he has no business participating. It is true that Fernie has one GM norm, but he got that way back in 1994 – 14 years ago! Donguines is currently rated no. 42 in the country. Some of the players who were bypassed are GM Darwin Laylo, IM Ronald Dableo (2 GM norms), and IM Oliver Dimakiling (2 GM norms). Who can explain this to us?

9. I wish that the chess reporters would stop calling Jayson Gonzales an International Grandmaster, he isn’t one. True, he has obtained the three GM norms required, but he still has to attain a minimum rating of 2500 to get the title. This is not an easy requirement, and there are a heck of a lot of players who never reach this milestone.

10. Jayson’s current rating is 2468 and he just lost 33 rating points by finishing last in the “Battle of GMs” – points that he has to make up for. Outstanding players like Wesley get 18.7 pts in one tournament, but he had to win the Dubai Open to do that. Jayson has never gotten close to such a performance. For most players a good result in an international tournament will get you an additional 10 rating pts. Equating that with IM Jayson Gonzales’ soon-to-be rating of 2435, that means he has to get good results in 6-7 tournaments, without the ratings catastrophe similar to what he experienced in the Battle of GMs. I am afraid it will take another 2 years before he gets the grandmaster title.

Here is Wesley’s win in the 9th round over Richard Bitoon to virtually guarantee himself the top prize of P200,000.

So,Wesley (2540) - Bitoon,Richard (2420) [B99]
Battle of Grandmasters CITYSTATE Hotel (9.5), 01.05.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 h6 8.Bh4 Nbd7 9.Qf3 Be7 10.0–0–0 Qc7 11.Bd3 g5 12.fxg5 Ne5

The same line as So vs Adly from the Dubai Open, which we annotated here a week or so ago.

13.Qe2 Nfg4 14.Nf3 Nxf3

[14...hxg5 is the move with the best theoretical reputation]

15.Qxf3 Ne5 16.Qh5 Ng6 17.Bg3 hxg5 18.Qf3 Bd7

Adly played 18...Ne5 19.Bxe5 dxe5 20.Rdf1 Rh7 21.h4 gxh4 22.Qg4 Rh6 (So,W (2540)-Adly,A (2578) /Dubai 2008 1–0 37), but on looking at this position again I realize that Wesley had an easier win with 23.Qg8+ Kd7 24.Rxf7 White has too many threats, not the least of which is 25.Bb5+! axb5 26.Rxe7+ Kxe7 27.Qg7+ Kd8 28.Rd1+ Bd7 29.Qf8#.

19.Rhf1 Rf8 20.Qe3 0–0–0 21.Qa7 Ne5 22.Be2 Nc6 23.Qa8+ Nb8

[23...Qb8 24.Qxb8+ Kxb8 25.Rxd6 wins a pawn]

24.a4 Bc6 25.Qa7 Nd7 26.Qa8+ Nb8 27.Qa7 Nd7 28.Bh5 Nf6?

caption: position after 28...Nf6

29.Rxf6! Bxf6 30.Rxd6! Rxd6 31.Qa8+ Kd7 32.Qxf8 Be7 33.Qxf7 Qd8 34.Bxd6 Kxd6 35.Bg4 Bd7 36.e5+ Kxe5 37.Qf2 Qf8 38.Qe3+ Kd6 39.Qd4+ Kc7 40.Qc4+ Kd8 41.Bf3

[41.Bxe6? Bxe6 42.Qxe6 Qf1+ 43.Kd2 Qxg2+ considerably complicates White's task]

41...Bc8 42.Kb1 Bd6 43.Ne4 Be7

[43...Bxh2 44.Nxg5]

44.Qd4+ Kc7 45.Qe5+ Kb6

[45...Bd6 46.Qc3+ Kb8 47.h3 holds out longer]

46.Nxg5 Qf5 47.a5+ Ka7 48.Qc7 Qc5 49.Qxc5+ Bxc5 50.Bg4 Be3 51.Bxe6 Bxg5 52.Bxc8 Bd2 53.c3 Bf4 54.h4 Bc7 55.b4 b6 56.axb6+ Kxb6 57.Kc2 a5 58.bxa5+ Kxa5 59.Kd3 Kb5 60.h5 Be5 61.g4 Kc5 62.c4 Kd6 63.Ke4 Bf6 64.Kf5 Bd4 65.g5 Ke7 66.Kg6 Be3 67.h6 Bf4 68.c5 1–0

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"This article first appeared in Bobby Ang's column in Businessworld (Philippines) on 09 May 2008"

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