Match 1977 Philippines,
January 22–April 25, 1977
GM Eugene Torre 2550 6.0-4.0
GM Rosendo C. Balinas, Jr. 2420 4.0-6.0
Format: Unlimited match with the 1st to win 6 games taking the series. Draws do not count towards the final score.
Time Control: 40 moves in 2½ hours. Then an hour for every 16 moves after that.
When Loyola Life Plans agreed to sponsor the match between Asia’s first two grandmasters they pulled out all the stops to make it a true spectacle. Total prize package is P50,000 with P30,000 to the winner. More than the prize fund though they promoted the heck out of the event.
First of all the match was spread over several venues.
Makati Hotel — games 1–5
Davao — games 6–7
Cebu — games 8–9
Bacolod — games 10–12
Makati Hotel — games 13–17
Philam Life — game 18
Giant demo boards were set up all around in Metro Manila to show the progress of the match, manned by National Masters.
Both players entered the match with an equal record. They met for the first time in the 1968 National Open. Each had won two, lost twice and drawn four times in a span of nine years.
After game 1 which Torre won, Balinas surprised everyone by winning games 3, 4 and 5 to take a 3-1 lead. Torre’s aura of invincibility had been broken!
Game 3. Torre got confused with Balinas’ irregular opening and loses a pawn and gets a horrid position. He fights back hard and almost equalizes but time trouble reared its ugly head and a bad mistake towards the end dooms him.
Balinas, Rosendo C (2420) — Torre, Eugenio (2550) [B23]
Match ‘77 Manila (3), 26.01.1977
1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 e6 3.Nbc3 a6 4.g3 b5 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0–0 b4 7.Na4 Nf6 8.d3 d5
Perhaps a bit premature as he has not yet completed development. 8…d6 looks equal.
Twenty-three years later I was to see this position again in Nelson Mariano versus Dao Thien Hai from the Equitable Card Invitational, of which I was the tournament director. 9.Bg5 Nbd7 10.exd5 Bxd5 11.Bxd5 exd5 12.Nf4 Be7 13.Re1 0–0 14.Bxf6 Nxf6 15.Qf3 Ra7 16.Re2 Qd6 17.Rae1 Rd8 18.b3 Bf8 19.h4 Rc7 20.g4 h6 21.Re5 Re7 22.Rxe7 Bxe7 23.Kg2 (I don’t know what got over Nelson. Of course he should have continued with his original intention 23.g5 hxg5 24.hxg5 Nh7 25.g6 and he has a superior game) 23…Nh7 24.Nxd5 Bxh4 25.Nab6 Ng5 26.Qf4 Ne6 27.Qe5 (27.Qxd6? Rxd6 White’s knights are awkward and one of them must fall) 27…Qc6 28.Kh3 Bg5 29.Re4? (29.Kg3) 29…Rd6! now White loses at least a piece 30.c4 bxc3 31.Rc4 c2 32.Rxc2 Kf8 33.b4 Nf4+ 34.Nxf4 Qf3+ 0–1 (34) Mariano, N. (2403)-Dao, T. (2550) Quezon City 2000.
9…Bxd5 10.c4 bxc3 11.Nexc3 Bxg2! 12.Kxg2 Nc6 13.Be3 Nd4 14.Ne4 Nd5?
The problem is that defending the c5–pawn is tricky. If 14…Rc8 15.Rc1 Qa5?? 16.Nxf6+ gxf6 17.Bxd4 wins a piece. Black should play 14…Be7 15.Naxc5 0–0 (with the idea of Bxc5, Nxc5, Qd5+) 16.Rc1 Nf5 and at least he has some counterplay.
15.Naxc5 Bxc5 16.Qa4+ Kf8 17.Nxc5 Nxe3+ 18.fxe3
Not only is Black a pawn down but his king cannot castle and it is on the semi-open f-file.
18…Qd5+ 19.Ne4 Nf5 20.Qa3+ Kg8 21.Rf3 h5
White will be coming down the c-file. Black would like to contest it with 21…Rc8 but unfortunately after 22.Qxa6 Rc2+ 23.Rf2 Nxe3+ 24.Kg1 he lacks a good follow-up and will be losing material due to the threats on the back rank. For example: 24…Rc7 (24…Rxf2 25.Qc8+) 25.Qb6 wins the knight on e3.
To be followed-up with Rc5 and Qc3.
Desperately trying to complicate.
[23.g4! Nh6 24.Rc5 Qb7 25.Qc3 White dominates the board]
[24.g4! Nh6 25.Rg5 with the deadly threat of Nf6+ wins]
24…hxg3 25.hxg3 Rh6 26.d4 Rg6
White is still better but Black is already showing some signs of life.
27.Rf4 Ne7 28.Qc2 Qb8 29.Rh5?! Nf5 30.Kf2 Ra7 31.Qd2
With the idea of 32.g4 Nh6 33.g5 Nf5 34.Kf3, etc, and occupy the h-file.
Black is too concerned with the planned offensive down the h-file and lets the enemy rook back on the c-file. In reality, g2–g4 is answered quite convincingly with …Rh6!.
32.Rc5 f5 33.Qc3! Ra8 34.Nd2 Ng4+ 35.Ke1 Nf6 36.Qc4 Nh5?
Short on time Torre overlooks 36…Ng4! now 37.Ke2 (37.Rfxf5 is refuted by 37…Nxe3) 37…Kh8 the Black king is safe.
37.Rfxf5! Qxg3+ 38.Kd1 Qg4+ 39.Kc2 Ng3 40.Rf4 Qh3?
Loses immediately. Anyway, even after the relatively better 40…Qe2 White is still winning: 41.Rc8+ Rxc8 42.Qxc8+ Kh7 43.Rf8 Kh6 (43…Rf6 44.Rxf6 gxf6 45.Qc7+ etc) 44.Qb8 Nf5 (44…Ne4 45.Rh8+ Kg5 46.Qf4#) 45.Rh8+ Kg5 46.Qf4+ Kf6 47.Qe5+ Kg5 (47…Kf7 48.Qc7+ Ne7 49.Qd8) 48.Rh2 Qxe3 49.Rg2+ Kh6 50.Qh2+ the end.
41.Rc8+ This was the adjourned position. Torre resigned without resumption. 41.Rc8+ Rxc8 42.Qxc8+ Kh7 43.Rf8 is curtains. 1–0
Game 4. Torre attacked Bali’s Petroff Defense but once again made some crucial mistakes in time trouble and allowed his opponent to get a dangerous passed pawn on the queenside. Balinas showed excellent technique and turned the tables in the endgame.
Torre, Eugenio (2550) — Balinas, Rosendo C. (2420) [C42]
Match ‘77 Manila (4), 28.01.1977
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Bd3 d5 7.0–0 Nc6 8.c4 Nf6 9.Nc3 0–0 10.cxd5 Nb4 11.Re1 Nbxd5 12.Ne5 Be6 13.Bg5 Re8 14.Qf3 c6 15.Rad1 Nd7 16.Bxe7 Rxe7 17.Ne4 N7f6 18.Nc5 Qa5
With the idea of 19…Bg4 20.Nxg4 Rxe1+
19.Nxe6 Rxe6 20.g4
Now 21.g4–g5 would win Black’s f7–pawn, which explains Bali’s next move.
20…Re7 21.Re2 Qd8 22.Rde1 Nd7 23.Nxf7 Rxf7 <D>
Position after 23…Rxf7
Forced. 24…Kf8 allows 25.Qa3+ Re7 (25…Ne7 26.Bg6) 26.g5! followed by Bg6 and Qf3+
25.Qxf7 N7f6 26.Re3
The problem with 26.g5 is that 26…Qd7! forces transition to the endgame with 27.Qxd7 Nxd7 28.Re8 White has a rook and 2Ps vs Black’s 2Ns. It is not clear who is ahead.
26…Nxe3 27.Rxe3 Kh8 28.Rh3+ Nh7 29.Qg6 Qg8 30.g5 Rd8 31.Rh4 a6 32.b3 Rf8 33.h3 Rd8 34.Kf1 a5 35.Kg1 Rf8 36.f4 Rd8 37.f5
Now Torre intends Qh5 and g5–g6.
37…Rf8 38.a4 b5 39.axb5?
The crucial move before time control. White unwittingly gives his opponent the advantage in the queenside. 39.Qxc6? Qxb3 is winning for Black but White could have continued 39.Rh5 bxa4 40.bxa4 Rc8 41.f6 Rc7 (41…gxf6 42.Qf5 White wins back his sacrificed material 42…fxg5 43.Rxh7+ Qxh7 44.Qxc8+ Kg7 this is probably drawn with best play) 42.Qe4 g6 (42…gxf6 43.g6 Rg7 44.Rh6 Qa2 45.Qe8+ Qg8 46.Rxh7+ Rxh7 47.Qxg8+ Kxg8 48.gxh7+ Kxh7 49.Kf2 once again we reach a drawn endgame)
39…cxb5 40.d5 a4! 41.bxa4
The sealed move. Balinas has a big advantage.
41…bxa4 42.Rxa4 Qxd5 43.Rh4 Qg8! 44.Re4 Qb3 45.Re8
45…Qg3+ 46.Kf1 Qxh3+ 47.Ke2 Qg2+ 48.Ke1 Qg3+ 49.Ke2 Qg4+ 50.Kf1 Qd1+ 51.Kg2 Qd5+ 52.Kg3 Qb3+ 53.Kh2 Qa2+ 54.Kg1 Qa7+ 55.Kg2 Qd7! 56.Rxf8+ Nxf8
Now Black should be able to win this. It takes him another 22 moves, but with proper care the result is not in doubt.
57.Qh5+ Kg8 58.Qg4 Qd5+ 59.Kh2 Nd7 60.Qf4 Ne5 61.Kg3 Qd3+ 62.Kf2 Qc2+ 63.Ke3 Qb3+ 64.Kd4 Nf7 65.Kc5 Qa3+ 66.Kd5 Qa8+ 67.Kc5 Qc8+ 68.Kb4 Qd8 69.f6 Qb6+?
[69…g6 70.Qe4 Qd6+ 71.Kb3 Ne5]
Not 70…Nd6? 71.Qe5 and there is no longer any win.
71.Kb4 Qb7+ 72.Ka3 g6 73.Qe3 Qa6+ 74.Kb4 Qd6+ 75.Kb3 Qe5 76.Qa7 Qxg5 77.Qb8+ Kh7 78.Qh2+ Qh5 0–1
Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.