Friday, April 17, 2009


Vol. XXII, No. 181
Friday, April 17, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

World Sports

Battle of GMs (2)

Phoenix Petroleum & Dapitan City Battle of GMs
Dapitan City
March 24-31, 2009

Final Standings

1. GM Wesley So 2627, 9.0/11

2. GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. 2519, 7.0/11

3. GM Eugenio Torre 2560, 6.5/11

4-5. GM Mark Paragua 2537, GM John Paul Gomez 2539, 6.0/11

6-8. GM Darwin Laylo 2504, IM Richard Bitoon 2473, IM Julio Catalino Sadorra 2445, 5.5/11

9. IM Rolando Nolte 2488, 4.5/11

10. GM Jayson Gonzales 2468, 4.0/11

11. GM Bong Villamayor 2471, 3.5/11

12. IM Ronald Dableo 2432, 3.0/11

Average Rating: 2505

Category 11, GM norm: 7/11

In my opinion the best game from the Battle of GMs is GM John Paul Gomez vs GM Eugene Torre in the penultimate round.

John Paul Gomez and International Masters Oliver Barbosa and Julio Catalino Sadorra started their chess careers well before reaching their 10th birthday and, between the three of them, monopolized the local kiddies’ and juniors’ chess titles. My personal opinion then was that Barbosa was the most promising as his creativity in thinking up new ways to attack his opponent’s king fortifications was very impressive. Sadorra, on the other hand, impressed with his hardworking habits — he was the one who actually studied the openings and came to games armed to the teeth.

My take on John Paul was that he was a boring player — everything is about positional motifs and strategy and he just maintains a solid position and waits for his opponent to blunder. This style might work out in the kiddies/juniors level, but once he enters the international arena solidity will not be enough — he will find that the opponents are just as solid but with good theoretical preparation, tactically alert, good stamina from playing against strong players all year round, and he will fail.

Well, I have been proven completely wrong. Once John Paul started playing in international tournaments he elevated his level and sharpened his style. He kept meeting challenges head-on and learning from mistakes, building up his arsenal, and getting better. And now he is an International Grandmaster. I am very proud of him and happy for his father, Mr. Jun Gomez, a retiree from the National Power Corp. who has become a permanent fixture in local tournaments, accompanying his son to all the rounds and helping out any way he can.

The reason for this long-winded discourse is to give the reader an indication of just how much John Paul Gomez’s play has grown. The fantastic combination he envisioned in the following game deserved more than it got — GM Eugene Torre met the attack with brilliant defense and closed the game with a rook sacrifice combination of his own. You really should play this over.

Gomez, John Paul (2539) — Torre, Eugenio (2560) [E11]

Phoenix Petroleum Battle of GMs Dapitan City Resort Hotel (10.6), 30.03.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+

This opening is known as the Bogo-Indian Defense ("Bogo" as in "Bogoljubow"). In recent years it was the main weapon as Black of the great Swedish GM Ulf Andersson — he was virtually unbeatable with this line. White keeps a slight advantage because he has more space, but Black is solid.

4.Nbd2 0-0 5.a3 Bxd2+ 6.Bxd2 Ne4 7.Be3 b6 8.g3 Bb7 9.Bg2 Nd6!?

Eugene takes the game out of the books. As far as I can see this move has never been played yet, as 9...d5 or 9...f5 are the automatic moves here.

10.Rc1 Be4 11.d5 Nf5 12.Bf4 d6 13.0-0 e5 14.Bd2 Ne7

Black has wasted so much time with his bishop and knight maneuvers that White is definitely looking for ways to take advantage of that tempo. One attempt now would be 15.Ng5 Bxg2 16.Qc2, but after 16...Ng6 17.Kxg2 there doesn’t seem to be much there.

15.Re1 a5 16.Bc3 a4 17.Qd2

You will see in a while what this move is for.


Position after 17...h6

Now the fun starts.


A stunning concept.

18...Bxg2 19.Ng4 Bh3!

Much better than 19...Be4 because then he will lose the bishop to 20.Bxg7 f5 21.Qxh6 fxg4 22.Bxf8 Qxf8 23.Qe6+ Qf7 24.Qxe4 Black’s exposed king is cause for concern and he would be hard put to hold the position.


Best. Capturing on h6 with 20.Nxh6+ is met by 20...Kh7 21.Qg5 f6 22.Qh4 gxh6 23.Qxh3 Qc8 24.Qh4 Qf5 Black is already better.

20...gxf6 21.Qxh6 Ng6 22.Qxh3 Nd7 23.f4 Re8 24.e4 Kf8 25.Re3 Ke7 26.Rce1 Rg8 27.e5?

Objectively best here is 27.Qf5, putting pressure on f6 so that the d7-knight cannot move. However, then Black could force a draw with 27...Nh4 28.Qh3 Ng6 29.Qf5 Nh4 etc... After his grand concept White of course wants the full point.

27...fxe5 28.fxe5 Ngxe5 29.Bxe5 dxe5 30.Rxe5+ Nxe5 31.Rxe5+ Kd6 32.Qh6+ f6

[32...Kxe5 33.Qf4#]

33.Re6+ Kd7 34.Qh3 f5!

The only move. If 34...Rh8 35.Qf5 Qg8 then 36.Rxf6+ Ke7 37.Rg6 Rf8 (Giving up his queen for the two rooks, otherwise he is mated, for example: 37...Qd8 38.Qe5+ Kf7 39.Qg7+ Ke8 40.Re6+ etc) 38.d6+! cxd6 39.Qe4+ Kd7 40.Qb7+ Ke8 41.Qc8+ Ke7 42.Qc7+ Ke8 43.Rxg8 Rhxg8 44.Qxd6 Black’s pawns will all fall.

35.Qxf5 Qg5 36.Qf7+ Kc8 37.Re7 Qc1+ 38.Kg2 Qxb2+ 39.Kh1 Qc1+ 40.Kg2 Qc2+ 41.Kg1 Qd1+ 42.Kg2 Kb7!

Now you see the point of Eugene’s queen checks — he wanted to put his queen on the d-file so White would not have d5-d6 available.

43.Rxc7+ Ka6 44.Qd7 Qc2+ 45.Kg1 Qb3 46.Qc6 Rxg3+! 0-1

Obviously Black had seen this resource several moves earlier — the white king is mated. 46...Rxg3+ 47.hxg3 Qxg3+ 48.Kf1 Rf8+ 49.Ke2 Rf2+ 50.Ke1 Qg1#.

Until Wesley So came into the scene, GM Eugene Torre had always won local tournaments in the country so long as its format was round-robin. In Swiss system tournaments he was not as successful, but in all-play-all Eugene was invincible.

One of the reasons behind this dominance was his stamina — he just got stronger as the tournament got longer. This is the same story as in his tennis. I heard one of Eugene’s frustrated opponents ventilate in the locker room once that the GM’s tennis style is a bit unorthodox and he did not have any flashy moves, but no matter how hard you hit the ball or how much "pektos" you apply, Eugene is going to return the ball to you until you err out of exhaustion.

That is why I was so worried during the 2008 PGMA Cup — Torre won the first five games but was visibly tired in the final three rounds and in fact could very well have lost all three. Was he finally losing his stamina?

Well, we got our answer in this Battle of GMs — Eugene lost to Wesley in the 3rd, recovered by beating Ronald Dableo in the 4th, and got temporarily bogged down with draws. However, he came back with a 2.5/3 finish and ended up in solo 3rd place.

I hope he can continue to contend in these powerful local tournaments — there is still so much our younger players could learn from him.

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