French grandmaster made to work by Palawan’s Mendoza may be a dime a dozen now, but a woman who holds the men’s grandmaster title is not often seen. Marie Sebag of France is Camarines’ import in the Wesley So Cup, the second conference of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines.
Sebag has won all her nine games in online tournament where there is a blitz (3 mins plus 2 seconds increment) and 15 minutes (no increment). Like the seasoned grand maitre that she is, Sebag punishes opening inaccuracies and does not give second chances.
On Saturday, she faced her toughest opponents to date: Palawan’s veteran internationalist Beverly Mendoza and Kajoy Acedo of Negros. Sebag won but had to employ sure-handed technique to dispose of them.
Mendoza, the rock of Philippine Olympiad women’s teams in the 2000s, has not been playing regularly. She resumed in the Wesley So Cup, manning third board behind Shania Mae Mendoza and former Asian Continental champ Padmini Rout of India. In the blitz match between Palawan and Camarines, Mendoza showed the form that made her successful against higher-ranked foes in the Olympiad.
In their Queen’s Gambit, Mendoza playing white was beneficiary of what appeared to be a mouse slip by Sebag when she won the exchange in the ninth move. On the 11th move, faced a potential loss of a bishop, Mendoza retreated the bishop, allowing Sebag to capture the b pawn and regain material.
From move 20 until the diagram position, Mendoza tried to exploit having two rooks against Sebag’s rook, bishop and two pawn edge in a tense struggle.
With White to play her 31st move, Black mobilized her f-pawn to create threats against White’s king. With 31 gxf4 Bf4 32 Raa7, forcing Black to defend her g-pawn by Bh6, White can play Rac7 threatening to take the c-pawn. After 33…Rf8 34. Re7 keeps watch over the dangerous e-pawn. The position is even but in a blitz game, many things can happen. But Mendoza faltered, apparently due to lack of time, and the game was over for her quickly.
Mendoza-Sebag: 31 Raa7 f3 ch 32. Kh3 Bh6 33. Re7 Rf8 34. Ra1 e3 35. Rf1 e2 36. Rf2 Bd2 37.Kg4 E1Q 38 Rxe1 Bxe1 39. Ra2 f2 40. resigns.