GMs off to good starts in PSC chess
MANILA, Philippines – Grand Masters (GM) Mark Paragua, John Paul Gomez and Rhobel Legaspi got off to blazing starts in the opening round of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) International Chess Championships Monday at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
Paragua defeated Roel Abelgas after 23 moves of the King’s Indian defense, while Gomez beat National Master Efren Bagamasbad after 21 moves of French defense. Legaspi nipped 7-year-old whiz kid Alekhine Nouri after 17 moves of King’s Pawn game.
“Magulo ‘yung laro namin ni Roel (Abelgas), pero buti na lang sanay ako sa ganitong set up ng King’s Indian,” said Paragua.
Top-seed GM Aleksandr Rakhamanov of Russia spearheaded the foreign delegation and is aiming for his first chess title this year.
Despite the absence of GM Wesley So, who is currently schooling in the United States, some of the country’s best woodpushers are competing in the nine-round, Swiss system tournament.
GMs Oliver Barbosa, Joey Antonio, Darwin Laylo, Richard Bitoon and Eugene Torre are all seeing action in the event, which is hosted by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).
GM Rakhamanov and PSC chairman Ricardo Garcia made the ceremonial moves to usher the start of the tournament.
They were joined by NCFP chairman and president Prospero Pichay Jr., NCFP executive director Jayson Gonzales, NCFP directors Raymond Lingsangan, Louie Ramos and Red Dumuk, and Asia’s first International Master Rodolfo Tan Cardoso.
“Inaasahan natin na magiging madugo ang laban sa paglahok ng Russian Super GM na si Aleksandr Rakhamanov,” Pichay said.
“Itong larong chess ay isa sa sinusuportahan ng PSC dahil malalki ang pag-asa natin sa larong ito,” said Garcia. “Sa katunayan, kasama ang chess sa nagbibigay ng medalya sa bansa sa Southeast Asian Games at Asian Games.”
The tournament offers a guaranteed cash prize of $30,000, with the champion getting the lion’s share of $6,000. -- By Marlon Bernardino.