WORLD  CHESS:  SO  YOUNG,  SO  TOUGH  AS  NAIL

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Wesley So KHANTY-Mansiysk, Russia]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 29, 2009 (STAR) Young Grandmaster Wesley So took the chess world by storm anew with a 53-move conquest of defending champion Gata Kamsky of the US and moved a draw closer to the Round of 16 Friday in the 2009 World Cup of chess.

In a grand follow-up to his stunning second-round upset win over former world championship contender GM Vassily Ivanchuk, the 16-year old Filipino champion stunned Kamsky in the opener of their third-round showdown at the Khanty-Mansiysk Centre of Arts here Friday.

So, with an Elo of 2640, played with surgical precision as he dismantled the older, more-experienced Kamsky to score a king-size win with the black pieces in 53 moves of the French defense.

Before Kamsky resigned, So was unmistakably ahead with a queen, rook, knight and four pawns against Kamsky’s queen, rook, knight and two pawns.

So, from Bacoor, Cavite, was poised to trap Kamsky’s exposed king on g2 with his more active pieces on the board.

“I really played very well against him (Kamsky). I was prepared for the game. I caught him at the opening and he spent a lot of time,” So told the official website of the World Chess Cup.

“I just hope that tomorrow I will be also lucky,” added So, who refused a draw offer by Kamsky in the 18th move.

So, who also defeated Ivanchuk with the black pieces in the first game of their two-game second round showdown, now needs only a draw with the 27th-seeded Kamsky (Elo 2695) in their second game Saturday to reach the tough, 16-player fourth round.

The Filipino champion will play white this time.

If the Russian-born Kamsky manages to win, the match will go into rapid tiebreak matches on Sunday.

So slammed the door on GM Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan, 4-1, in the first round and Ivanchuk, 1.5-.5 in the second round, while Kamsky eliminated Filipino GM Rogelio Antonio Jr., 1.5-.5, in the first round and GM Zhou Weiqi of China by the same score the following round.

If successful against Kamsky, So’s fourth-round opponent is the winner of the match between No. 11 seed GM Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine and No. 22 GM Vladimir Malakhov of Russia.

Eljanov (Elo 2729), second-round winner over GM Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia, 3.5-2.5, and Malakhov (Elo 2706), victor over GM Ilia Smirin of Israel, 3.5-1.5, drew their first game in the third round.

Other possible opponents for So are former world championship campaigners GMs Peter Svidler of Russia, Alexei Shirov of Spain, Evgeny Tomashevsky of Russia and Arkadj Naiditsch of Germany.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Prospero “Butch” Pichay said the worldwide attention that So is getting in the world’s biggest individual chess competition is not at all surprising.

“Wesley has already beaten some of the world’s best players. He defeated super GM Ni Hua of China and drew with GM Alexei Shirov of Spain during the 2008 World Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany and drew with super GM Sergey Karjakin of Ukraine in the Asian Championship in Al Ain, UAE,” said Pichay.

“Now, Ivanchuk and Kamsky are finding out how good Wesley is,” added Pichay, who was singled out by So during an interview with the World Cup website for his “tremendous role in the development of chess in the Philippines.”

Pichay, whose untiring leadership in the local chess association enabled So and six other players to earn their GM titles in a span of less than four years, said So will surely go for the jugular against Kamsky on Saturday night.

In other notable GM third-round results, it was top seed Boris Gelfand of Israel over former world women’s champion Judit Polgar, David Navara of Cezch Republic over Karjakin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan over Wang Hao of China, Nikita Vitiugov over fellow Russian Konstantin Sakaev, Ruslan Ponomariov of Ukraine over Alexander Motylev of Russia, Dmitry Jakovneko of Russia over Alexander Areshchenko of Ukraine and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France over Yu Yangyi of China.

The eight other matches were agreed drawn, including the games between Svidler and Naiditsch and GM Etienne Bacrot of France and GM Wang Yue of China.

BOXING: One-round wonders SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) Updated November 29, 2009 12:00 AM

When challenger Sonny Boy Jaro was dispatched in a single round by WBA lightflyweight champion Giovanni Segura in Merida, Mexico, a week ago, it wasn’t the first time a Filipino figured in a world title fight that lasted inside three minutes.

In boxing history, the records show that Filipino fighters were involved in 16 world championship bouts that ended in the first round. The tally shows seven wins and nine losses for the Filipinos, either as champion or challenger.

The country’s top fighters of all time like Manny Pacquiao, Flash Elorde and Luisito Espinosa all contributed to the win column while several unforgettables, including Diego de Villa and Gabriel Pumar, went down in shame.

By the way, Pumar is now based in Japan and known as Boom Boom Toei. The Lapu-Lapu City southpaw takes on Makoto (Army) Yoshida in Tokyo on Dec. 15, the day before his 24th birthday. Pumar is coming off back-to-back wins over Japanese opponents and has a 13-3-1 record, with seven KOs.

In all, Filipinos have fought in 357 world title bouts since Elino Flores lost a 15-round decision to Johnny Dundee for the junior lightweight crown in New York City on Feb. 2, 1923. The breakdown is as follows - 60 minimumweight, 44 lightflyweight, 65 flyweight, 40 superflyweight, 28 bantamweight, 25 superbantamweight, 22 featherweight, 35 superfeatherweight (or junior lightweight), 13 lightweight, 13 superlightweight (or lightwelterweight), eight welterweight and four middleweight.

The list of world title fights includes those sanctioned by major and minor organizations like the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO (International Boxing Organization), IBC (International Boxing Council), WAA (World Athletic Association), WBU (World Boxing Union), WBB (World Boxing Board), Ring Magazine (as the People’s Championship) and WBF (World Boxing Federation, now Foundation).

In a future column, we’ll list the breakdown of wins and losses of Filipinos in world title fights by division. We’ll also come up with the complete of Filipino world titleholders, including those who held WAA and WBB crowns.

* * * *

Meanwhile, here’s a list of the 16 world title bouts that ended in the first round involving a Filipino protagonist.

1. Aug. 17, 1960. Flash Elorde KO1 Harold Gomes (US), San Francisco. World junior lightweight title.

2. Dec. 16, 1960. Flash Elorde KO1 Sergio Caprari (Italy), Manila. World junior lightweight title.

3. March 21, 1963. Roberto Cruz KO1 Raymundo (Battling) Torres (Mexico), Los Angeles. World junior welterweight title.

4. Oct. 17, 1973. Ben Villaflor KO1 Kuniaki Shibata (Japan), Honolulu. World junior lightweight title.

5. March 17, 1984. Joo Do Chun (Korea) KO1 Diego de Villa, Kwangju. IBF superflyweight title.

6. Oct. 18, 1989. Luisito Espinosa KO1 Khaokor Galaxy (Thailand), Bangkok. WBA bantamweight title.

7. Dec. 1, 1994. Lester Ellis (Australia) KO1 Al Coquilla, Kalgoorlie. IBO lightwelterweight title.

8. March 29, 1996. Johnny Bredahl (Denmark) KO1 Rolando Pascua, Copenhagen. IBO bantamweight title.

9. Jan. 24, 1998. Kongtawat Oraithaigym (Thailand) KO1 Rico Siodora, Cagayan de Oro. WBF featherweight title.

10. May 29, 1999. Zolani Petelo (South Africa) KO1 Eric Jamili, Hammanskraal. IBF minimumweight title.

11. March 2, 2001. Pongsaklek Wongjongkam (Thailand) KO1 Malcolm Tunacao, Pichit. WBC flyweight title.

12. Oct. 26, 2002. Manny Pacquiao KO1 Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym (Thailand), Davao City. IBF superbantamweight title.

13. Sept. 10, 2005. Brian Viloria KO1 Eric Ortiz (Mexico), Los Angeles. WBC lightflyweight title.

14. Aug. 11, 2007. Daniel Ponce de Leon (Mexico) KO1 Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista, Sacramento. WBO superbantamweight title.

15. Nov. 16, 2007. Nkosinathi Joyi (South Africa) KO1 Gabriel (Boom Boom Toei) Pumar, Port Elizabeth. IBO minimumweight title.

16. Nov. 21, 2009. Giovanni Segura (Mexico) KO1 Sonny Boy Jaro, Merida. WBA lightflyweight title.

Postscript. A memorial Mass will be held for the late Blue Eagle cager Lyle (Jun) Ross Jr. at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Monday) at the Ateneo college chapel, ground floor, Arts and Science Building, Loyola Heights. Ross, 59, died of lung cancer in Sacramento a few days ago. He played on the unbeaten 10-0 Ateneo NCAA juniors champion team in 1966 with close pals Ricky Palou and Chito Afable then on the Blue Eagles NCAA seniors champion team in 1969 with Palou, Afable, Baby Boy Morales, Francis Arnaiz, Joy Cleofas, Marte Samson, the late Frank Harn and Tito Panlilio. Ross also won medals in the NCAA juniors and seniors as Ateneo’s entry in the 100-meter dash, relay and long jump. He earned an AB General Studies degree in 1971. His juniors coach was Tony Vasquez and seniors coach, Nilo Verona. He suited up for MICAA champion Meralco under Bay Mumar for a year before settling in the US. Ross is survived by wife Jane Alcala and children Richie, working in Iloilo, married with two children and daughter Megan, single, living in New Jersey. Ross worked 25 years for Burger King and retired as regional manager, overseeing the New England and New York areas. He was later employed as the ARCO area manager in Sacramento. Robin Tong quoted Panlilio describing Ross as “diligent and intelligent – he breezed through school.” Robin gathered information on Ross from Palou, Panlilio and Jun Dalandan of Ateneo alumni affairs.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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