NEW YORK (April 8) — Confronting chess contenders in a simultaneous chess exhibition, NY State Chess Master Vitaliano “Nonoy” Rafael coasted easily within three hours to force each challenger into a loss. One time varsity chess team member of the Mapua Institute of Technology managed to forge a draw in a Chess Challenge event held at the Philippine Center recently.
Ed Macaraeg, a Professional Engineer and a director of the Filipino American Association of Engineers (FAAE), playing white, kept his pieces at bay to match Rafael’s who employed a Queen’s Indian defense of his board. The two players avoided trading pieces early and parried at each other’s attack until the end-game when Macaraeg’s pawn was almost at Rafael’s end about to be promoted into a queen. Rafael survived the threat with a perpetual check of Macaraeg’s king that ended the game into a draw. Macaraeg was the only player who played white during the chess exhibition match.
“Ed played very well and I almost didn’t make it. Luckily, I found a few brilliant moves that simplified the game and exposed his king to my queen’s advances,” Rafael said.
Meanwhile in a post analysis of the game, Nanding Mendez, president of Philippine Fiesta, who was also among the participants, thought that Macaraeg could have won if he had given up his bishop to gain a strategic advantage for his pawn. Rudy Jimenez, one of the remaining players who persevered with his own game, concurred.
Macaraeg, of Fairlawn, New Jersey, said he wanted to win but he admitted to having overlooked a crucial move. “I was winning but I committed one mistake. Nonoy is really an expert and I’m lucky I even drew a game with him,” he said.
On the other hand, Dima Gozman, the lone American challenger, admitted he lost the game early on but continued on with a few brilliant moves of his own to keep Rafael at bay. He used to play chess at the Greenwich Village and said he was encouraged by the event and looked forward to also participating in future chess matches. Although not yet ranked by the FIDE, the international governing body of chess associations, Gozman hoped to get there by participating in FIDE-sanctioned chess matches.
“That is the only way I could keep up with the game and perhaps play with chess experts like him [Rafael] as I gain more experience,” he said. Gozman had equal number of pieces with Rafael but lost control of the middle board towards the end-game by giving up pawns at the whim of Rafael’s aggression.
Two other players who hang on with their games until the end-game were Rafael Garcia and Rudy Jimena. While locking their positions into an even match with Rafael, both eventually resigned their boards unable to defend the prized king from imminent capture.
Other players include Butch Agapito, Nick Arugay, Freddie Taruc, Richie Flores, Marlyn Abalos, Rafael Garcia, Jacqueline Rafael and Justin Rafael. Macaraeg, won a $50 cash prize but donated it back to the Ayala Foundation. Gift certificate donations from the Village Chess Shop and Fat Cat were raffled out to the players.
Rafael was 2007 NYC Inter-Bank League Team MVP, former World Open & NY Open-Expert Class Champion, NCAA Board 1 Gold Medalist, five-time De La Salle University Champion, and Philippine Junior Finalist. For the past 20 years, he has been the Chief Tournament Director of the NY Fil-Am Chess Club. He has more than 30 years of competitive chess experience.
The Chess Challenge, co-sponsored by the Ayala Foundation USA, NY Tri-State Team, and the Philippine Consulate General, drew more than a dozen players who belong to different chess categories from novice to near expert. Michael Adarlo, second place winner at the Winter ChessFest, was in attendance but did not participate in the chess exhibition.
The sponsors’ aim is to promote and raise funds for Gearing Up Internet Literacy and Access for Students (GILAS) through a private/public partnership led by Ayala Foundation. The objective is to meet one of its goals of wiring all 6,300 Philippine public high schools through the establishment of personal computer laboratories. To date, about 2,100 schools have been connected which serves over a million students in meeting the challenge of the 21st century.
According to Margarita Villanueva, a GILAS volunteer since 2007, GILAS is one of the beneficiaries of Ayala’s initiative that has been active in the community for a number of years. Besides the Chess Challenge as one its ways of promoting GILAS and raising funds, GILAS has also spearheaded a Cocktail Reception, a dinner event at the residence of Loida Nicolas-Lewis, and a panel discussion at the Asian Society with an audience of various nationalities and professional backgrounds.
“This is a very worthy project, which everyone should support,” she said. “Nowadays we see the power of technology in our lives and how students use it here as a tool to further their knowledge and education. With a project such as GILAS, we could also harness the potential of students in the Philippines and keep them at par with their peers,” she added.