Asian Seniors Championship

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

Tagaytay City, Philippines
Nov. 2-12, 2018

Final Standings

1. IM Chito Garma PHI 2317, 8.0/9

2. GM Eugenio Torre PHI 2449, 7.0/9

3. IM Petronio Roca PHI 2376, 6.5/9

4-6. FM Oleg Rinas KAZ 2329, Cesar Caturla PHI 2240, IM Angelo Young PHI 2281, 6.0/9

7-8. Carlo Lorena PHI 2174, Rosendo Bandal Jr PHI 2198, 5.5/9

9-15. FM Adrian Pacis PHI 2165, AGM Angelito Camer AUS 2060, Khin Than MYA 2200, IM Aitkazy Baimurzin KAZ 2154, Kuanishbek Jumadullayev KAZ 2208, Rolzon Roullo PHI 2916, FM Syarif Mahmud INA 2167, 5.0/9

Total of 34 participants

Time Control: 90 minutes for the entire game with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1.

Tagaytay City hosted the Asian Seniors Chess Championship for Over-50 and Over-65 years old at the Tagaytay International Convention Center. There were no separate competitions for the two age groups — it was held as one round-robin event after which the top Over-50 and Over-65 were awarded their medals.

Over 50 Category

1. IM Chito Garma, 6.0/9

2. IM Petronio Roca, 6.5/9

3-4. FM Oleg Rinas, IM Angelo Young, 6.0/9

5. Carlo Lorena, 5.5/9

Over 65 Category

1. GM Eugenio Torre, 7.0/9

2. Cesar Caturla, 6.5/9

3. Rosendo Bandal Jr, 5.5/9

4-5. Cecil Padua, Lim Kian Hwa, 4.0/9

For me it was great to see the name of Rosendo Bandal Jr competing once again in an international chess event. I wrote about the Bandal chess clan several years ago, which includes the patriarch Rosendo Bandal Sr., Philippine national chess champion in 1950. Then there is Rosario Bandal, one of the country’s leading female chess players in the 60s and 70s. She worked as an Assistant to the Chief Prosecutor in Manila City Hall and the Regional Trial Court Judge in Gandara, Samar. And then there were the two brothers Ricardo and Rosendo Jr., two of the Philippines’ top players in the 60s and 70s. The latter played board 5 for the country in the 1968 Lugano Chess Olympiad.

Rosendo Bandal Jr went into law and worked in the Office of the President (at that time Ferdinand E. Marcos) for 12 years before being promoted as presiding Judge at the Regional Trial Court in Negros Occidental. I hear he recently retired after 31 years of government service at the age of 70, which explains why he now has time to play chess internationally again.

Another name we have not heard in a long time is balikbayan IM Angelo Young. Angelo was the Philippines National Junior Champion in 1982 who a few years later migrated to the US where he spent most of his time in Chicago working as a chess coach. International Master Young recently returned to the land of his birth and is still razor-sharp — he won both the rapid and blitz events in this Asian Seniors tournament.

In 1999 when GM Eugene Torre and myself accompanied GM Joey Antonio to the World Chess KO Championship in Las Vegas IM Angelo Young arrived in the tournament site at his own expense simply to assist and boost the Philippine squad. He stayed for the entire event and I cannot thank him enough.

Enough reminiscing! Let us go to the chess action.

GM Eugene Torre was leading with 3.5/4 and on track for his 3rd straight Asian Seniors title when he was upended by Chito in the 5th round.

Torre, Eugenio (2449) — Garma, Chito (2317) [D02]
9th Asian Seniors Chess Championship Tagaytay City (5.1), 07.11.2018

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bf4 Bd6 4.Bg3 c5 5.e3 Nc6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Nbd2 0–0 8.Bd3 f5 9.0–0 c4 10.Bc2 b5 11.Ne5 Bxe5 12.dxe5 b4 13.Ba4 bxc3 14.bxc3 Qa5 15.Bxc6 Nxc6 16.Qc2 Rb8 17.Rfb1 Bd7 18.f4 Rb6 19.Bf2 Nb8 20.Rxb6 axb6 21.Rb1

White’s idea is 22.e4 bxe4 23.Bxb6.

21…b5 22.Nf3 Na6 23.Bh4 Re8 24.h3 Nc5 25.g4 fxg4 26.hxg4 Ra8 27.Nd4 Ne4 28.Be1 Qxa2 29.Qxa2 Rxa2 30.Nxb5 Bxb5 31.Rxb5 Re2?!

Chito has completely outplayed the Grandmaster but here 31…Ra1 was stronger. Now if 32.Kf1 Nxc3 Black’s passed c-pawn becomes a real problem for White.

32.Rb8+ Kf7 33.Rb7+ Kg6 34.Bh4 h5

Black has to first give his King a safe square on h7. If he goes for it right away then 34…Rxe3 35.f5+ exf5 36.Rb6+ Kf7 37.gxf5 White will be advancing his pawns with check.

35.f5+ exf5 36.Rb6+ Kh7 37.gxf5 Rxe3 38.e6 Nf6 39.Bf2 Re4 40.Bd4 <D>


Chito gets an inspiration: what if his King goes down the board to mate white?

40…Kh6! 41.Rb2?

GM Eugene realizes Chito’s idea and gets rattled. Correct was 41.Rd6! winning the d5–pawn. After 41…Kg5 42.Bxf6+ Kxf6 43.Rxd5 Rf4 44.Re5! Ke7 45.Kg2 he has at least a draw.

41…Kg5 42.Rf2 h4 43.Kg2 Kg4 44.Bxf6 gxf6 45.Kh2 Re3 46.Kg2 h3+ 47.Kh2 Re5 48.Rf1 Re2+ 49.Kh1 Kg3 50.Rd1

[50.Rg1+ Kf4 51.Rf1+ Kg4 White is nearly in zugzwang. His rook cannot get out of the f-file because his f5–pawn will fall. Neither can it leave the 1st rank because of Re1+]

50…h2 51.Rf1 Re3 52.Rd1 d4 53.cxd4 c3 54.e7 c2 55.Ra1 Rxe7 56.d5 Rb7 0–1

Eugene tried hard to catch up and scored 3.5/4 in the final rounds but just couldn’t catch up with Garma, who was really determined to win this one.

Chito Garma is quite a colorful character. Sometimes he can be champion of the Philippines but also can fall for the biggest upsets. I even composed a limerick about him:

There was a master named Garma

Always his games are a thrilla

He plays better and faster

Than many a grandmaster

And then loses to Peiris of Sri Lanka!

This limerick inspired one of our readers, Mr. Butch Arroyo, Alexandria, Virginia, to send in his contribution:

There once was a player named Garma

Whose chess could run colder or warmer,

He’d beat a grandmaster

Then meet with disaster

When “Unrated” arrives with his karma.

I can’t resist retelling this story. In 1990 the Philippines hosted the Interzonals in Manila and we were treated to a big spectacle – most of the top players in the world came to our shores to battle for the 11 slots to the next step in the world championship cycle – the candidates’ matches.

Among the big names who came was GM Johann Hjartarson. He had finished equal first in the 1987 Szirak Interzonal, qualified for the Candidates’ matches and defeated Viktor Korchnoi in a huge upset. In the next round the Icelandic GM lost to Anatoly Karpov but he had already made quite a name for himself.

Mr. Florencio Campomanes arranged for many of our unemployed players to the high-profile GMs as translator/aides so that they can get around in Manila, and Chito Garma was assigned to Hjartarson. The Pinoy International Masters would show his assignee around town and go out for sandwiches, snacks and cigarettes.

There were no problems and they parted on very good terms.

In the 1990 Novi Sad Olympiad held later that year Chito Garma played board 5 for the Philippines and as luck would have it faced Hjartarson in round 6 during the Philippines vs. Iceland match. When Chito arrived on the board GM Hjartarson went white with shock and burst out “YOU! You were my boy!” – apparently he never realized that his aide could play chess.

The Grandmaster from Iceland was completely rattled and went down fast.

Hjartarson, Johann (2520) — Garma, Chito (2280) [A05]
Novi Sad olm (6), 1990

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 b5 3.Bg2 Bb7 4.0–0 e6 5.b3

[5.c3!? with the idea of Qb3 is a popular way of playing against Black’s set-up]

5…Be7 6.c4 a6 7.Bb2 0–0 8.Qc2 Re8 9.d4 Be4

A nice maneuver — …Be4 followed by ..Qd8–c8–b7, putting pressure on the long diagonal.

10.Qc1 Qc8 11.Nc3 Bc6 12.a3 Qb7 13.Rd1 Ra7 14.d5?!

Perhaps a little bit over-optimistic. Hjartarson is counting on the awkward placement of Black’s pieces to win the pawn back. Chito defends doggedly and manages to keep the pawn, however.

14…exd5 15.cxd5 Nxd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Qe3

The threat is Qe5 with a double attack on d5 and g7.


Not allowing the queen to go to e5.

18.Ne1 d5 19.b4 a5 20.Rac1 axb4 21.axb4 Ra4 22.f3 Bg6

White’s initiative has been countered — it is now time for Black to play for a win.

23.Kf1 Rxb4 24.Ba3

After 24.Qc3 simply 24…Bf8.

24…Rc4 25.Rxc4 bxc4 26.f4

[26.Bxe7 c6]

26…c6 27.g4 f6 28.Bxe7 Rxe7 29.Qa3 Be4 30.Bh3 Kf7 31.Bg2 Qb3

The rest is elementary.

32.Qxb3 cxb3 33.Bxe4 Rxe4 34.Nd3 Nd7 35.Rb1 c5 36.Rxb3 c4 37.Rb7 cxd3 38.Rxd7+ Ke6 39.Rxg7 d2 0–1

Yup! Chito Garma is quite a character.


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 for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.