Chess Grandmaster Balinas Dies

Grandmaster Rosendo Balinas, jr. (Sept. 10, 1941 -- Sept. 24, 1998)

Grandmaster Rosendo ("Bali" and "Junior" to his fans and loved ones) Balinas died at 10:45 a.m. Philippine time at his residence in Antipolo city, Philippines. He had liver cancer.

A six time Philippine open chess champion and considered Asia's best chess player during the '60's, Grandmaster Balinas (a lawyer by profession) first gained international prominence by winning international tournaments in Singapore and Hong Kong.

He tied for 1st with Yugoslav GM Svetozar Gligoric in the 1968 Philippine open. Prior to that, on September 1967, Balinas, then a national master, was the only Filipino player to play GM Bobby Fischer to a draw in their individual match, in the "Beat Bobby Fischer Series" in Manila, Philippines.

Balinas' uncompromising opposition to the unethical practices of Florencio Campomanes, then the Philippine chess federation and FIDE Asian representative, kept him out of local and international competition. In 1995, Balinas, then an international master, was allowed to play at the intercession of the Executive Assistant to the Philippine President de Vega, and returned with vengeance during the 1975 Marlboro Chess Classic International Tournament.

Balinas' electrifying win against the world championship candidates and Danish champion GM Bent Larsen, beating his pet "Larsen opening" in a blitz finish when Larsen resigned under threat of forced mate, was one of the most memorable chess scenes in Philippine chess as players and spectators applauded both competitors at the end. IM Balinas also defeated Russian champion GM Lev Polugaevski in a classic ending and Czechoslovakian champion GM Lubomir Kavalek in route to a 5/6th place finish, 1/2 point short of the GM norm. In this same tournament, the Philippine chess star and Asia's first Grandmaster Eugene Torre placed 9th/10th place.

Rosendo Balinas, Jr.'s chess pinnacle occurred during the 1976 Moscow Central Chess Club International Tournament, Odessa, USSR, opposing Russian chess stars world candidate qualifiers GM David Bronstein, GM Korchnoi (who pulled out at the last minute), absolute Russian champion GM Vladimir Savon, Moscow chess champion GM Lutikov and young stars Tukmakov, Lerner, Lev Alburt, Ignatiev and other foreign GM's Espig, Tringov, Plachetka, and Tarjan. IM Balinas shocked the chess world by winning the tournament and going undefeated against all his Russian opponents.

During this period, IM Rosendo Balinas, Sr. was only the 2nd foreigner in 35 years to win an international chess tournament in Russia, the "land of grandmasters". The only other foreigner who won in Russia was former world champion Jose Raoul Capablanca. For his feat, IM Balinas was awarded the Grandmaster title outright.

GM Balinas' continuing feud with the more powerful now former FIDE president Campomanes forced his semi-retirement from chess competition. Without support from government or private patrons, Balinas established the Philippine Grandmaster school of chess. Among his former students are the 3rd Philippine Grandmaster Rogelio Antonio, Jr., international master Rick de Guzman and a host of masters. The most recent is the youngest Philippine master (10 years old) Oliver Barbosa.

Grandmaster Rosendo Balinas, Jr. was the Philippine's national treasure and unsung hero by his fans and faithful, an uncompromising lawyer who stood up for the ideals of fairness, and who promoted chess excellence and pride of the Filipino people, till his dying days.

Prior Report: Subject: Grandmaster Balinas is dying of cancer -- former Philippine and Asian chess champion considered the Philippine national treasure and unsung hero for his contribution to the Philippines, and Philippine chess, Grandmaster Balinas is in his last dying days. Indeed chess was and continues to be his passion, even during his waning years.

Being ill during the last few years did not keep Grandmaster Balinas from playing chess -- especially in the US, winning a number of tournaments.

His distinction and legacy as a six time Philippine Open chess champion, top Asian player during the '60s and the 2nd foreigner to win a chess tournament in Russia (after Capablanca) is probably overshadowed by his uncompromising stand (for close to 30 years) against Campomanes and his cohort (and still with FIDE) Casto Abundo for their abuse of position first with the Philippine Chess Federation and then with FIDE.

Grandmaster Balinas obtained his GM title despite Campomanes' efforts to keep him out of international tournaments. Ironically it was Polugaevski, Bronstein and the Russian Chess Federation who recommended strongly his Grandmaster title be award.

This was after Balinas' tournament win in the Moscow Chess Club International Tournament in Odessa, Russia, going undefeated against the Russian players.

Any message from his US friends can be sent to: or or to me at and I will forward to him.

Joe Balinas

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