MANILA, Philippines – Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So will begin his title retention bid in the Battle of the Grandmasters National Championship on Saturday (July 16) at the National Press Club (NPC), in Intramuros, Manila.
So will be gunning for his 4th straight title in the event organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).
He will have his hands full this time as 8 other GMs and a mixture of established and upcoming stars gang up on him in the Category 11 tournament (average ELO rating of 2508).
The 5 international masters (IM) participating this year need to score at least 8.5 points to get a GM norm.
The event was declared a “closed tournament,” which means that the competition will be limited to local players only.
“This is a huge step forward in our bid to produce more grandmasters in our country,” said NCFP President Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr.
Seeing action in the tournament are GMs Darwin Laylo, John Paul Gomez, Joseph Sanchez, Roland Salvador, Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla, Eugene Torre, GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio, and Mark Paragua.
“Anything can happen in a round-robin competition,” said Torre, the most successful local player in closed tournaments.
IMs Oliver Barbosa, Richard Bitoon, Rolando Nolte, Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Yves Ranola are also competing.
In the distaff side, Woman National Master (WNM) Rulp Ylem Jose will try to defend her title against a strong field that includes Woman International Masters (WIMs) Catherine Perena and Beverly Mendoza.
The event is sponsored by Pilipinas Shell, Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), NPC, Remate and Hataw. – By Marlon Bernardino