Happy New Year everyone. 2008 was definitely a good year for Philippine chess, at least individually, as we're slowly making a sort of chess "revival" in the country. Our readers can assure that this blog will continue to follow the development and progress of chess in our country in the coming year. Please walk beside me. As for our chess masters, organizers, sponsors, bloggers, and all unsung chess heroes, CH will be walking after you.
Now let's talk about the best of Philippine chess in 2008:
Best Filipino Player of the Year: Wesley So. Without a shadow of a doubt it was a tremendous year for GM Wesley So. The fifteen year old boy phenom from Cavite has an unofficial live rating of 2637, the highest ever achieved by Filipino chess players and making him among the top 100 active players in the world (unofficial). May I also ad that Mr. So has been performing around 2710 performance rating in the second half of 2008. He has 1-0-2 win, loss and draw record thus far against players with above 2700 ratings and looks pretty at home competing against 2600 rated opponents. Now a brief bio of Wesley for 2008. On April 16, 2008, Wesley So, won the title in the $45,000 Dubai Open Chess Championships, "The Sheikh Rashed Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum Cup", at the Dubai Chess Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and setting a record as the youngest winner in the 10-year history of the Cup. He finished with 7 points on six wins, one loss and two draws after nine games. GM So also placed third at the sidelight Blitz Tournament of the Dubai Open Chess Championships held during the rest day of the main open tournament. After his succes at Dubai, he then proceed to Indonesia where he completely outduelled Indonesia's Number 1 GM Susanto Megaranto 4-2 (three wins, two draws and one loss) in a six-game match on the occasion of the JAPFA Chess Festival. On May 5, 2008, So won the top prize of P 200,000, in the “Battle of GMs” chess competition by notching 8½ points, on six wins and five draws, at the Citystate Hotel, Manila. One point ahead of second placer Eugenio Torre and Richard Bitoon. He also won the Gold Medal in Board 1 at 2008 under 16 Turkey's World Youth Olympiad. He is rated the world's strongest chess player for his age level (players born in 1993 and later). The latest ratings put Wesley So on the 11th spot of the world top 20 juniors list.
Most Improved Player: John Paul Gomez. By virtue of his sterling performance during the 2008 Dresden Chess Olympiad and winning the Philippine National Championship (Qualifying round), GM John Paul Gomez became the newest chess sensation of the Philippines. Gomez has an unofficial live rating of 2536, the third best in the country behind So and Torre.
Best Place(s) to play chess for Filipinos: Singapore, UAE
Chess event of the year: Philippines "Battle of Grandmasters"
Most memorable tournament of the year: Eugene Torre's surprise victory at the 3rd PGMA Cup.
Best performance(s) of the year: Wesley So, Dubai Open Champion; IM Enrico Sevillano, US Open co-champion
Best Philippine Chess Site: Pinoychess
Other top performing players: FIDE Asian Grand Prix champion and Philippine Open co-champ IM Julio Catalino Sadorra, 2008 new GM Jayson Gonzales, 5th Singapore chess fest ruler IM Richard Bitoon, Marshal Chess Club Champion and WMSG blitz preliminary round winner Mark Paragua
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