Fil-Am judge hopeful as early voting gets underway

moss5

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Early voting for the November 4 general elections started in Nevada Saturday, Oct. 18, with a popular Filipino grocery store here designated as one of the polling places.

A Filipino-American is on the ballot in one of the positions at stake in this state’s premiere city, and voting materials are available in Tagalog in a recognition of the growing political muscle of Filipino-Americans, Nevada’s largest Asian ethnic group.

As balloting began at Seafood City and other precincts, Judge Cheryl Moss, whose family originally came from Aklan, expressed optimism she will prevail in her bid for a fourth term as District Court judge.

“We have worked tremendously hard in the campaign and our volunteers have knocked on practically every door,” Moss said. “Yes, we’re optimistic.”

Moss is seeking a new six-year term as District Court Judge, Family Division, Department I, a post she first won in 2000.

She will go up against Travis Shetler in a non-partisan judicial contest that will test Moss’ support beyond her traditional Asian-American constituency.

“The Filipinos especially will come out to vote for me and give me a push, “Moss said, adding that in her last three elections, she got at least 67% of the vote.

What keeps Moss’ hopes up are key endorsements by the powerful labor unions, including police and firefighters, and community groups, such as the Hispanic Caucus.

Two other Filipino-Americans did not survive in the contested June primaries, leaving Moss, the daughter of retired doctors, to become the most visible elected official in the Fil-Am community, pegged at 30,000 by the 2010 Census.

Comprised mostly of healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, therapists – and casino workers, Filipino-Americans have earned the right to use Tagalog in Nevada elections.

It is the third language used; the two others are English and Spanish.

All election-related materials, such sample ballots, brochures and voting instructions, pamphlets, voting machines, notices, and polling booths signs must be in those languages.

It is mandated by Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that if a minority group reaches 10,000 citizens who are not proficient in English – or those limited-English speakers become five percent of the citizen voting-age population.

The determinations are made every ten years following the census. Data released last October revealed that Filipinos in the U.S. reached that threshold in four new jurisdictions, including Clark County.

In Nevada, Filipinos number nearly 100,000, according to the latest census.

Filipino-American community leaders hoped Tagalog ballots would result in a surge of new voters, but based on the elections two years ago, this did not make much difference.

May Manahan,  a Clark County elections employee, said there was no significant increase for Tagalog ballots in the early voting.

“Perhaps our people are comfortable enough with English ballots,” she said. “Most Filipinos are proficient in English because of our American educational system.

A steady stream of voters, however, stopped by the polling booths at Seafood City, and  good number turned-out for the two days of voting there that plans are underway to request permanent voting sites there.

” It is such a convenient location for our community and thereby encourages them to vote,” said Rozita Lee, a prominent Asian and Pacific Islander community leader. “According to election clerks, there was a steady stream of folks stopping by to vote.”

 

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So wins Millionaire chess open in Las Vegas

Wesley So exults after receiving a replica of the $100,000 first prize from Millionaire chess organizer Maurice Ashley at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino PHOTO BY PAUL TRUONG.

Wesley So exults after receiving a replica of the $100,000 first prize from Millionaire chess organizer Maurice Ashley at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino PHOTO BY PAUL TRUONG.

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Filipino chess grandmaster Wesley So outplayed Webster University teammate Roby Robson of the United States in the finals to capture the $100,000 first prize in the Millionaire chess open championships at the Planet Hollywood & Casino.

Despite an inferior position, So forced a draw in the first game as Robson ran into time constraints. With the white pieces in the second game, the 21-year-old So played aggressively to beat his college roommate and win the match 1.5 to .5.

It was the third prestigious victory this year for So, who carried the Philippine flag here despite a falling out with Butch Pichay Jr., the president of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) over the young Filipino’s request to transfer to the U.S. chess federation.

In May, So won the prestigious Capablanca Memorial tournament in Havana, Cuba, and in July, he topped the ACP Golden Classic in Bergamo, Italy.

He also finished behind Vassily Ivanchuk of Ukraine at the Edmonton International tournament in Alberta, Canada.

In 32 games so far, he has not lost a single game and here in Las Vegas, he won four and drew two in the 7-round Swiss system in the qualifying round to tie for the lead with Robson, each with six points, and qualify outright in the semifinals.

In the semis, he beat Chinese GM Jianchao Zhou to arrange the finals meeting with Robson, who prevailed over another Chinese grandmaster Yangyi Yu.

With his unbeaten streak, So has jumped to No.10 in the world, with a live rating of 2762, his personal best and the highest a Filipino chess player has ever achieved.

 

 

 

 

So gains semifinals in Millionaire Open chess in Las Vegas

susanwes

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Chess grandmaster Wesley So outplayed Gareev Timur of the United States in the seventh round Sunday, Oct. 12, to qualify outright for the semifinals of the rich Millionaire Open chess tournament at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

With the victory that pushed the Filipino into a share of the lead with Webster University teammate Roby Robson, each with six points, So also jumped into the top 10 of the world’s highest-rated grandmasters.

The 21-year-old So now has a live rating of 2762, a personal best, after gaining 7.0 rating points from 5 wins and 2 draws. He surpassed former world champion Vladimir Kramnik, who has a 2760 rating.

In the semifinals Monday, So will face Chinese GM Jianchao Zhou while Robson tangles with another Chinese grandmaster Yangyi Yu.

The Chinese prevailed over their opponents in knock-out games to break a four-way tie for the remaining two slots and set up the China versus Webster University semifinals.

So, the top-seed, is picked as the favorite in the $1-million tournament that offers $100,00 to the champion, but his coach, Paul Truong, dismisses the talk as speculation.

“I would not put any weight behind any of these predictions,” Truong said. ” In such a short format, anything can happen. One mistake can cost any player the big prize.

” We are not worried about winning. We put more emphasis on making good and sound moves.”

The march of the two Webster University players into the next round accomplished Truong’s and his fellow coach Susan Polgar’s goal of taking the tournament one step at a time – and it will be no holds-barred in the finals.

Truong and Polgar were generally credited for So’s rise in the world standing but they have also gotten flak for “influencing” the Filipino’s request to transfer to the U.S. chess federation from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).

So will sit out until August next year before he can compete in official tournaments of FIDE or the international chess federation, although he can accumulate live rating points with a strong performance, such this tournament.

So gains share of lead in Las Vegas chess tournament

Wesley So plying balck against Yangyi Yu of China in the Millionaire chess tournament at the Planet Hollywood Hotel &  Casino in Las Vegas. (Photo by Pul Truong).

Wesley So plying balck against Yangyi Yu of China in the Millionaire chess tournament at the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. (Photo by Pul Truong).

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – In another masterful play, Wesley So defeated American grandmaster Alexander Lenderman in the fifth round to take a share of the lead with two others in the Millionaire chess tournament at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

The 21-year-old So displayed patience in nurturing a slight advantage into a winning knight, rook and pawn endgame to capture his fourth victory in five games.

With 4.5 points, So is in good shape to capture one of the four finals berth and a chance to win the $100,000 first prize in the tournament that offers a total prize pot of $1-million.

“We’re right on track,” said coach Paul Truong. “We are where we need to be.”

With the black pieces, So faces co-leader Yangyi Yu of China in the sixth round of the seven-round Swiss system after which the top four players advance into the finals.

Other key matches Saturday are between Xiangzhi Bu against Daniel Naroditsky; Jianchao Zhou versus Evgeny; Sabino Brunello against Ray Robson, and Timur Gareev facing Conrad Holt in what is shaping up s China against the United States in the fight for the four finals qualifiers.

Grandmaster Julio Sadorra retains a slim chance of qualifying with 3.5 points, but the other two Filipino participants – IM Ricardo de Guzman has 3 and GM Rogelio Barnecilla has 2 points – and could only hope to improve their scores to receive higher cash prizes.

In the richest chess tournament eve, prizes are distributed as: 2nd place – $50,000
3rd place – $25,000; 4th – $14,000; 5th – $8,000; 6th – $4,000; 7th to 20th – each $2,000
21st to 50th – each $1,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So beats American chess phenom

By Bert Eljera

Wesley So plays the white pieces against American Jeffrey Xiong in the Millionaire chess tournament at Planet Hollywood & Casino (Photo by Eric Leung)

Wesley So plays the white pieces against American Jeffrey Xiong in the Millionaire chess tournament at Planet Hollywood & Casino (Photo by Eric Leung)

LAS VEGAS – Grandmaster Wesley So took the measure of Jeffrey Xiong of the United States, beating the 13-year-old American chess phenom in the fourth round of the Millionaire chess tournament at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Yangyi Yu of China is showing the way with four points and So is tied for second to sixth places, half a point behind, in the hectic four-day tournament that offers $100,000 to the champion.

Exploiting Xiong’s relative inexperience, the 21-year-old So steered the Indian Game into unfamiliar lines to win after 44 moves.

“Wesley has more experience, so we tried to capitalize on that,” said Paul Truong, who coaches the Webster University NCAA champion team with wife Susan Polgar, a former women’s world champion.

Sharing second to sixth places with So is Webster teammate are American Alexandr Lenderman, Daniel Naroditsky, also of the U.S. and Ecuadoran Carlos Matamoros, who is now based in the U.S.

With the black pieces, So faces Lenderman in the pivotal fifth round Saturday that may untangle the logjam at the top of the $1-million tournament, the richest ever in chess history.

The tournament calls for a seven-round Swiss system after which the top four players advance to the finals on Monday. The finalists play knock-out matches and the winner emerges champion in the Open section.

“The goal is to get there (the finals)” said Truong. ‘We’ll take it from there in terms of strategy. ”

Three other Filipino grandmaster competing have now slim chances of qualifying for the finals with Julio Sadorra with three points, Regelio Barcenilla and Ricardo de Guzman at two points each.

The youngest in the featured Open section tournament, Xiong drew raves by winning his first three games, including victories over two highly-rated grandmasters.

“This boy and surely will earn his grandmaster’s norm very soon,” said Truong of Xiong, who is an international master.

So wins first game in rich chess tournament

Grandmaster Wesley So ponders his moves as organizer Maurice Ashley looks on in the opener of the Millionaire chess tournament at the Planet Hollywood  Resort & Casino.

Grandmaster Wesley So ponders his moves as organizer Maurice Ashley looks on in the opener of the Millionaire chess tournament at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Chess grandmaster Wesley So celebrated his 21th birthday by winning his first game in the rich Millionaire’s  chess tournament that got underway Thursday, Oct. 9 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Playing with the white pieces, So, the top seed, started cautiously but gained momentum in the middle game, with a clever knight sacrifice on his 22nd move of an Alekhine Variation of an Anti-Grunfeld.

His opponent, Robert Perez of the United States, resigned on his 29th move, facing a significant disadvantage in the endgame after a swap of major pieces.

His coach, Paul Troung, however, described So’s play as “cautious”, choosing to use one of his favorite openings, the Indian game. “There was no sense taking unnecessary risk.”

It’s the first major tournament for So since sitting out a two-year eligibility requirement  after the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) denied his request to transfer to the U.S. chess federation.

During this period So, rated number 14 in the world by FIDE, or the international chess federation, can not compete in official FIDE tournaments, such as the World Championships, depriving him of a chance to shoot for a world title.

Despite his non-sanction and non-support from the NCFP, So is listed as representing the Philippines here.

Three other Filipino grandmasters entered in the $1-M tournament scored victories in their opening matches.

Julio Catalino Sadorra, Ricardo de Guzman and Rogelio Barnecilla, all of whom are grandmasters, won their respective games, while Ted Castro, who is competing in the under 2000 section, will see action today, Friday.

So spearheads a powerhouse Webster University team, the current NCAA and PanAm Games champion, which include three other grandmasters.

Grandmasters Liem Quang Le and Ray Robson both emerged winners in their opening matches while international master Ashwin Jayaram. drew his match.

The tournament offers prizes for competitions in various categories based on the players’ EL0 ratings.

For the Open, the first prize is $100,000 with the second place getting $50,000; third place $25,000; fourth, $14,000; fifth, $8,000; sixth, $4,000; seventh to 20th, $2,000 each and 21st to 50th, $1,000.

The Open Section is open to all players. The first seven rounds are a Swiss format tournament and will determine who plays the finals on Millionaire Monday. Four finalists will move on to play two knock-out rounds for a top prize of $100,000.

 

 

Impressive finishes for Pinoy surfers

Arjun Jimenez (left) and Roderick "Manoy" Bazar hold the Philippine flag at the skimboarding champiopnships in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Ver Torre)

Arjun Jimenez (left) and Roderick “Manoy” Bazar hold the Philippine flag at the skimboarding champiopnships in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Ver Torre)

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – A surfer from Cebu captured the championship in two divisions while the more heralded Eastern Samar surfer Roderick “Manoy” Bazar emerged third runner-up in the 10th Oktoberfest skimboarding tournament in Newport Beach, California that ended Sunday, Oct. 5.

Arjun Jimenez won the semi-pro and the 22-29 year-old divisions while the 28-year-old Bazar emerged third runner-up in the tough 22-29-year-old division, the featured class in the two-day skimboarding championships that drew about 50 pros from across the United States and surfing cities in the world.

The impressive victories of the two self-taught Visayan surfers validated the support extended  to them by public officials and private individuals, said Ian Olmedo, the two’s manager.

“You made it all happen for them,” said Olmedo to the supporters.

About 200 surfers, including 50 professionals com competed in the tournament,a regular leg of a surfing circuit that featrure stops in such places as Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and seaside U.S. Cities.

Skimboarding is a boardsport in which a smaller and skinnier surfboard, usually between 61 and 64 inches, is used to glide across the water’s surface.

Skimboarders drop the board onto the  thin wash of previous waves and use their momentum to skim out to the breaking waves, which they then catch back into shore like surfing.

To score points, skimboarders do tricks like skateboarders. The harder tghe trick, the higher the points.

Jimenez, who plans to turn pro ext year, learned the sport in Cebu and has competed in a Philippine circuit while Bazar, who grew up in Sabang, a beachfront baranggay where a river and the sea meet in Borongan, has been competing for the past 10 years.

The Balboa Pier tournament in Newport Beach was sanctioned by the United Skim Tour, the national body of the sport, which originated in Southern California.

“It’s been my life,” said Bazar, now based in San Felipe, Zambales. ” I’ve realized I could have a future in this sport.”