Friday, January 13, 2012

RIP NM Mirabeau Maga

Rest in Peace to Philippine National Master Mirabeau Maga. He died last December 26, 2011 at the age of 59. The Davao City native was a two-time Olympian and a former MILO Checkmate instructor died of a cardiac arrest at about 8 a.m. at the East Avenue Medical Center.

On February 4, 2012 @ 1 in the afternoon, Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Wesley So will be giving a simultaneous exhibition at the MERALCO Chess Club. Entry fee is Php 500.00 and proceeds of the event will go to the family of NM Maga.

For those of you who doesn't know who NM Maga is, here are some links you can visit:

But of course, Mr. Bobby Ang's ever reliable historical expertise on Philippine Chess is simply amazing. After I read his column yesterday at Business World Online, I knew exactly how much NM Maga has given to Philippine Chess. A chess master like Maga deserves an obituary like this from the master chess journo like Ang:
Mirabeau Maga 1959-2011
By Bobby Ang
Champion and two-time Olympian Mirabeau “Boy” Maga passed away on the day after Christmas, 26 December 2011.
He was for a long time among the top players in the country. I remember during the ’70s “Boy” was always contending for the country’s Junior Championship -- his rivals were Edmund Pascual (who quit chess to pursue his medical practice), Remigio Ferido, Antonio Elinon, Frederic Tumanon, Ramir Panes, Adrian Pacis and some more whose names I can’t remember.
He shared the 1986 national championship with the late IM Ruben Rodriguez and later qualified for that year’s Olympiad in Dubai. On board 3 he scored 1 win 4 draws and 3 losses. It is a pity that his peak years coincided with one of the most controversial moments in Philippines chess.
1987 Philippine Championship Manila
1-2. GM Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio, Jr., 9.5/13
3. Mirabeau Maga, 9.0/13
4-5. Petronio Roca, IM Rico MascariƱas, 8.5/13
6. Eric Gloria, 8.0/13
7. Ronald Cusi, 7.5/13
8. IM Ruben Rodriguez, 6.5/13
9-10. IM Andronico Yap, Ponciano Badilles, 5.5/13
11. Peter Tidoy, 4.5/13
12-13. Erwin Carag, Alan Sasot, 3.0/13
14. Vince Alaan, 2.5/13
This started out as a very exciting national championship. Eugene Torre, who had hitherto never been seriously challenged for the title, fell in a shock loss to Roca in an early round and had to struggle to catch up. In the meantime Joey Antonio, at that time still untitled, Roca and Maga set a torrid pace to lead the pack in the early to middle rounds.
The big hullaballoo was in the 11th round -- Torre was playing Eric Gloria in a tight game and was outraged when he saw his two rivals, Maga and Petronio Roca, beat their opponents Allan Sasot and Vince Alaan, respectively, inside of 90 minutes. Crying “game-fixing” Eugene stormed out of the jampacked playing hall. The organizers prevailed upon him to resume his match against Gloria (which he won) and promised to investigate.
Following a three-day deliberation by members of the Philippine Chess Federation (PCF) appeals committee, during which time none of the 4 players under investigation were summoned to give their side, PCF President Art Borjal meted out one-year suspensions in any PCF-sanctioned tournament. The victories of Maga and Roca, who finished third and fourth, were also nullified. On top of this Maga and Roca were also disqualified from the Philippine team which was to compete in the Thessaloniki Olympiad in 1988.
Eugene himself was aghast at the harsh penalties and appealed directly to Borjal just to give them a reprimand instead, but Borjal would not budge.
The consequences of this action was to seriously affect Philippine chess. Maga and Roca, both of whom were chess professionals, after their brilliant showing in the championship, were disenfranchised from chess at the top of their form and could not earn a decent living for one year. Vince Alaan was psychologically affected by all this and saw a promising career nipped at the bud.
Haven’t heard about Vince Alaan? He learned chess at the age of 15 in 1985 and by late that year was already a finalist in the Philippine Junior Championship. The following year he won that tournament and gained the FIDE Master title by winning the Asian Under-16 Championship. And now in his first try to win the Philippine title he has been branded a cheat.
Later in the year Alaan led Adamson (Alaan, Dennis Gutierrez, Chris Palma) to the National UAAP title by defeating Southwestern University (IM Enrico Sevillano, Barlo Nadera, Ariel Ranile) with Alaan delivering the full point against Sevillano. SWU filed a protest questioning the eligibility of FM Alaan to play considering that he was still under the one-year suspension by the PCF. This protest was upheld and all games of FM Alaan were forfeited thereby giving the champion’s trophy to SWU.
After this Alaan was a broken player.
Back to Maga.
Five years later Maga again represented the country in the 1992 Manila Olympiad (won 4, drew 5, lost 2). I remember this game very clearly -- the Olympiad was held in the PICC and I had to sneak out of the office to watch the games. Maga vs. Damaso (one of the top Portuguese players) was an exciting affair. At first we thought Maga “had” Damaso, but Rui found a nice tactical shot which equalized. He relaxed too soon, though, and could not survive his opponent’s second wind.
Damaso, Rui (2450) -- Maga, Mirabeau (2350) [B33]
Manila ol (Men) Manila, 1992
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e5
In the Philippines when you speak of the Sveshnikov Variation the name most associated with it is GM Joseph Sanchez. However, even before the “Atakador from Cebu” took it up there was Maga.
6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bg5 a6 8.Na3 b5 9.Bxf6
After an explosion of interest in the Sveshnikov the current antidote goes 9.Nd5 Be7 10.Bxf6 Bxf6 11.c4, but that has to be taken up in a separate column!
9...gxf6 10.Nd5 Bg7
This is known as the Novosibirsk Variation. Boy prefers it to 10...f5 (commonly known as the Cheliabinsk Variation), which is actually more popular, because he didn’t want to worry about miscellaneous piece sacrifices on b5.
11.c3 0 -- 0
Ivanchuk has shown us how to meet 11...Ne7 : 12.Nc2! f5 13.Nxe7 Qxe7 14.exf5 Bb7 (14...Bxf5??
15.Qf3 attacking a8 and f5) 15.Ne3 0 -- 0 16.Be2 Kh8 17.a4! b4 18.0 -- 0 e4 19.cxb4 Bxb2 20.Rb1 Be5 21.Bc4! White’s strongpoint on d5 will allow him to control both sides of the board. Ivanchuk,V (2786)-Radjabov,T (2751) Cap d’Agde (rapid) 2008 1 -- 0 33.
12.Nc2 f5 13.exf5 Bxf5 14.Be2
The main line is 14.Nce3 but there is nothing wrong with the text move -- White simply wants to finish his development and castle.
Getting the bishop out of the way so that he can push his f-pawn.
15.0 -- 0 f5 16.a4 bxa4 17.Rxa4 a5
White will dominate the queenside, but he must be wary of Black’s f-pawn which might advance all the way to f3.
White is now threatening moves such as Ndb4 or Nc7 taking advantage of the potential check down the a2 -- g8 diagonal, so Maga understandably takes his king out of the diagonal right away.
18...Kh8 19.Qh5?!
Rui Damaso is a very aggressive player, but the queen expedition merely results in it being pushed back with gain of time for Black. Perhaps better is 19.Nf4 Bxc4 20.Rxc4 Qd7 21.Ne6! Qxe6 22.Rxc6 Black will have his hands full trying not to lose a pawn.
19...Bf7 20.Qh3 Rb8 21.b3 f4 22.Ne1 Bg8 23.Nf3 Rb7 24.Nh4
Just in case Black overlooks the threat of Ng6 checkmate.
24...Qg5 25.Nf3 Qg6 26.Qh4 Rf5
Now White suddenly realizes that he is in danger of losing his queen to...Rh5.
27.h3 Be6
Renewing the threat of...Rh5.
28.Re1 Bh6!
Damaso’s last move was a trap. If 28...Rh5? 29.Nxf4! exf4 (29...Rxh4 30.Nxg6+ hxg6 31.Nxh4 loses)
30.Rxe6 and Black’s position is badly coordinated.
29.Qg4 Qe8?
[29...Rg5! 30.Nxf4 Rxg4 31.Nxg6+ Rxg6 wins a piece]
30.Nxf4 Bxf4 31.Bxe6
I was watching this game as it was being played. Damaso smashed this move hard on the board -- Boy Maga overlooked that 31...Qxe6 is met by 32.Rxf4! Anyway, all is not lost...
31...Rf6 32.Bf5 Qf8 33.Bd3 Rg7 34.Qh5 Qg8 35.Kf1
[35.g3 Rh6 36.Qf5 Rxg3+ 37.fxg3 Qxg3+ 38.Kf1 Qxf3+ 39.Kg1 Rg6+ wins]
35...Ne7 36.Bc4 d5 37.Bb5 e4 38.Nd4 Rxg2 39.Qe8 Rf8 40.Qxe7 Bd6! 41.Qxf8
[41.Qxd6 Rfxf2#]
41...Bxf8 42.Rxa5 Rh2 43.Ke2 Qg3 44.Kd2 Qxf2+ 45.Re2 Qf4+ 46.Kc2 Rh1 47.b4 Qc1+ 48.Kb3 Rxh3 49.Rc2 Qb1+ 50.Rb2 Qd1+ 51.Ka2 Rxc3 52.Ne6 Rc1 53.Rf2 Ra1+ 54.Kb2 Rb1+ 0 -- 1
Boy Maga could have qualified a third time for the Olympiad. He looked like a shoo-in for a berth for the 2006 Turin Olympiad until a penultimate round trap in the qualifying tournament by Oliver Dimakiling swindled him out of a sure win in time trouble. Boy recovered by beating prodigy Wesley So in the last round, which created a five-man playoff for the remaining berth. Wesley So won the playoff though, and this was to be Maga’s last hurrah.
Almost everyone else called him “Maging,” but he preferred “Boy” and he will always be “Boy” to me. May he rest in peace.
Reader comments/suggestions are solicited. E-mail address is

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Free Internet Chess Server

FICS: Free Internet Chess Server