Friday, September 17, 2010

Banawa is state champion


(As published in Chess Piece, BusinessWorld, 18 September 2010)

Southern California State Championship
Los Angeles, California
August 14-22, 2010

Final Standings
1-2. FM Philip Xiao Wang 2317, FM Joel Cholo Banawa 2356, 5.0/7
3. IM Cyrus F. Lakdawala 2413, 4.5/7
4. Ankit Gupta 2230, 4.0/7
5-6. IM Timothy Taylor 2317, IM Jack Peters 2357, 3.0/7
7. Konstantin Kavutskiy 2165, 2.5/7
8. FM Michael Casella 2249, 1.0/7

Twenty-one-year-old former Pinoy junior standout Joel Cholo Banawa [IN PHOTO] tied for first in the Southern California (based in LA -- this is differentiated from the Northern California Federation which is based in San Francisco) State Championship, an eight-player round-robin tournament. I asked Cholo to write something about himself and this event, so now I turn you over to him.

Hi! I’m Joel Banawa, a FIDE Master (USCF 2433) from Los Angeles, California, but born and raised in the Philippines. Before leaving the Philippines, I was already one of the top junior players, winning many age-group tournaments, especially the kiddies section (U-14). My most notable accomplishment was winning the Palarong Pambansa (National inter-elementary school games) under the supervision of Coach Henry "Henrysky" Mariano. With the help of both IM Rolly Martinez and NM Michael Gotel who are both world-class trainers, I attained candidate master level and just the right amount of competitiveness when I was 12 years old. At the age of 13, my whole family migrated to San Jose, California. My mom, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist in the Philippines, decided to work as a nurse so that we could all stay permanently in the United States.

My mom was soon permanently assigned to Los Angeles and that is when my brother (Joaquin) and I got involved in Southern California chess. Our first tournament in the United States was the Joseph Ileto Memorial, where we met our chess manager and honorary uncle Takashi Kurosaki. He’s the one who gave us rides, registration fees, and information on certain tournaments. Thanks to Tak, at the age of 13 I earned a USCF Master rating on my first outing. Reading Jeremy Silman’s book How to Reassess Your Chess while in San Jose paid dividends. In the long course of our stay in the United Stated, my brother and I had plenty of success in American tournaments. I had three top 10 performances in several strong US Open, scoring 7/9 in each of them. In the American Open I also had several top 10 performances and, in 2004, I even won the Super Nationals High School tournament, considered as the biggest scholastic tournament in the world.

Recently, I was invited to play in the Southern California State Championship by virtue of my high rating. The field was composed by theee veteran International Masters, three FIDE Masters (including myself), and two very strong masters. I was coming off two sad events in my life. First was the passing of my mother (who will always remain in the hearts of many people for the service she gave them) and the disappointing US Open where I was having a terrific result (Draws to IM Stopa-2580, GM Dmitry Gurevich-2500, GM Gareev-2698) just to lose to a 2300 on the 2nd to the last round. Entering the SoCal championship, I was eager for a good result to dedicate to my mother and to make up for the choked up result in the US Open.

The first day of the tournament, I was assigned to play two of the veteran International Masters. At the first round, I was matched against the dangerous and the tactical International Master Timothy Taylor with the black pieces. The game was an unusual and tactical Nimzo-Indian where Taylor sacrificed a piece for a tremendous attack.

Taylor, Tim (2363) -- Banawa, Joel (2416) [E31]
SCCF State Championship (1), 14.08.2010