Frank 'Boy' Pestaño


WIMBLEDON is to tennis as Linares is to chess. The tournament, usually played around mid-February, is taking place in Andalusia, Spain, from Feb. 13 to 24 and features six top players whose average rating is 2757 (no player is below 2700) and is a category 21 tournament.

Along with Corus, Sofia and Nanjing, it is part of the Grand Slam Circuit and is one of the strongest annual tournaments in the chess calendar.

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The players are Veselin Topalov, Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Boris Gelfand and Vugar Gashimov, who is playing in his strongest tournament. Time control is two hours for 40 moves, then another hour for the next 20 moves, then 20 minutes for the rest of the game. It also has a 30-second increment (starting from move 61).

A game can sometimes last for seven hours or more.

In 1998, the format of the tournament changed from a single round-robin to a double round-robin event (meaning that each participant plays every other participant twice, once with each color).

Luis Rentero, the legendary sponsor of Linares, is notorious for being a strong opponent of short draws in chess, to the point that he offered cash bonuses for playing longer games.

Topalov, who lives in Spain, has never won Linares though he shared first place with Gary Kasparov in 2005. He just lost his No.1 ranking to Boy Wonder Magnus Carlsen, who has signed up to play next year.

Aronian won in 2006 while Grischuk won last year.

After four rounds, Topalov and Grischuk are tied with 2.5, followed by Aronian and Vallejo with 2.0 and then Gelfand and Gashimov at 1.5.

Aeroflot 2010. The 9th Aeroflot Open is taking place from Feb. 9 to 18 in the tourist complex Izmailovo Hotel Gamma-Delta in Russia. The total prize is 180,000 Euros.

There are four open sections (A1, A2, B and C). The A1 section are for those rated 2550 or higher and Wesley So and Darwin Laylo are playing in this section.

It is one of the strongest open tournaments in a long time with more than 30 players rated over 2600.

Two players, Vachier-Lagrave and Bacrot are over 2700.

Le Quang Liem of Vietnam played a magnificent final round victory over Ian Nepomniachtchi to secure sole first place at 7/9 points. Compatriot Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, tied in the lead with Liem going to the final 9th round, lost to Korobov Anton of Ukraine, who moved into second place with 6.5/9 points.

There are four players with 6 points--Alexander Motylev, Zhou Jianchao, Nguyen Ngoc Troungson and Boris Grachev.

Wesley So had a respectable performance with 5.5 points in a tie with 11 others from seventh to 19th. He had three wins, five draws and a loss to Troungson. Laylo’s performance was a disaster. He failed to win a single game.

LOCAL EVENT. Labogon Open Tournament organizer NM Leonardo Alidani called me up to announce their event on Feb. 20 to 21 at the barangay’s social hall in Mandaue City, starting at 10 a.m.

The two-day contest follows the seven-round Swiss system format and has three sections: open, kiddies and women’s. Registration is P150 for the open, P70 for the kiddies and P50 for the women’s.

The champion in the open division will get P4,000, while the second and third will get P2,000 and P1,000. The fourth to seventh placers will get P700, P500, P300 and P200, respectively.

The top finishers in the kiddies’ class will pocket P1,000, P700, P500, P300, P200, P150 and P150. The top placers in the women’s bracket will receive P500, P300, P250, P200, and P100.

The sponsors are the Labogon Chess Learning Center and Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy and Barangay Captain Damaso Tumulak.

Interested players may contact Alidani at 0939-4890160.