Pestaño: Philippines vs. China: chess or checkers

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Thursday, March 20, 2014


In the current territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, the Philippines is playing checkers, while China is playing chess.

A chess player always tries to analyze several moves in advance, to anticipate the opponent’s moves, and to play for a win.

The stakes are high. Aside from national pride. The area is potentially rich in oil and natural gas deposits- up to 17.7 billion tons of crude oil and natural gas estimated up to 2 quadrillion cubic feet.

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In1976, the first Philippine oil company discovered an oil field off Palawan (island within the South China Sea belonging to the Philippines). These oil fields supply 15% of our annual oil consumption.

Fishing opportunities within the region are another reason for the claim. In 1988, the South China Sea is believed to have accounted for more than 8% of world fishing catches.

China has made several bold moves that elicited only modest responses from the
Philippines .

Last Jan. 27, Filipino fishermen were driven away from Scarborough shoal, also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc, by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) using water cannons.

On March 9, two civilian vessels contracted by the Philippine Navy to conduct troop rotation and resupply operations in Ayungin were followed, blocked, and then told to leave by Chinese ships.

China also announced that it was increasing its military budget for 2014 to almost $132 billion

The Philippines has two strong moves to avoid being checkmated.

The Philippines must pursue relentlessly its arbitration case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea against China’s maritime claims and most important, cement our alliance with the United States with whom we have a mutual defense agreement. China is wary of these two moves, as it will be a double check.

Candidates Match. The World Chess Candidates tournament started last week in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia and the 5th round has just been played. Format is double round-robin with classical time controls.

The players are Vishy Anand (2770), the loser of the 2013 Championship Match; Vladimir Kramnik (2787) and Dmitry Andreikin (2709), the top two finishers in the World Cup 2013; Veselin Topalov (2785) and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2757), the top two finishers in the Fide Grand Prix 2012–13; Levon Aronian (2830) and Sergey Karjakin (2766), the next two highest rated players; and Peter Svidler (2758), who got the organizing committee’s wild card. Wildcards must have at least a Fide rating of 2725 as of March.

The prize fund is 420,000 Euros, with 95,000 Euros going to the winner. There will be strict anti-cheating rules and players cannot agree to a draw before black’s 30th move.

The winner of the candidates match will have the right to challenge World Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway in a world title match in November. Carlsen defeated Anand in the Chennai World Championship match last November 2013.

This tournament is being followed by millions worldwide in anticipation of perhaps a new guard emerging. All are capable of winning and the matches are hotly-contested.

Although the favorites are Aronian and Kramnik, Anand is clearly making a statement in the early stages of this tournament. He had been World Champion since 2007 in Mexico City. He defended his crown against Kramnik (Bonn, 2008),Topalov (Sofia, 2010) and Boris Gelfand of Israel (Moscow, 2012).

Here are the scores after the fifth round: Anand (3.5), Aronian, Kramnik, Svidler (3.0), Topalov, Karjakin, Mamedyarov (2.0), Andreikin (1.5).

(boypestano@gmail.com,www.chessmoso.blogspot.com

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 21, 2014.

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