Who erred in chess mess?
Garcia asks By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star)
Updated September 14, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Sports Commission willl try to find out who made the wrong move before it acts on the controversy involving Grandmaster Joey Antonio and the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.
Chairman Richie Garcia said the PSC cannot immediately act on the move of NCFP president Prospero Pichay dropping Antonio from the national team and therefore depriving him of his benefits.
“Obviously, there’s something wrong here but we need to discuss it first,” said Garcia.
“We will talk to the parties concerned. We need to clarify things,” added Garcia of the controversy that started with Antonio’s recent trip to the United States for a series of tournaments.
The PSC provided the airfare and daily allowance for Antonio for the US trip based on a letter of request signed by Pichay himself.
But while he was in the US, competing in Fresno, California and in Washington from Aug. 19 to 29, the NCFP said Antonio was supposed to be in the country for a couple of major tournaments.
The Pichay Cup was held Aug. 19 to 26 while the Florencio Campomanes Cup took place from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3. The NCFP said as a Filipino GM, Antonio was supposed to compete in at least one of the tournaments.
Otherwise, he would be scratched from the national pool.
Garcia couldn’t understand why the NCFP allowed Antonio to leave, even endorsing his trip to the US, when the schedule would collide with those of the two major tournaments in the country.
“Why was Joey allowed to go when he was needed to play here?” Garcia said, adding that he needs more clarification before acting on the matter.
“It would be a pity if an elite athlete like Joey Antonio is dropped from the national pool when he is not at fault,” he added.
Antonio is listed in the PSC as an elite athlete along with fellow GM Wesley So, and under the current set-up they are entitled to receive at least P20,000 a month from the government agency.
IM Richard Bitoon has been chosen by Pichay to take Antonio’s place for the World Chess Olympiad in Russia from Sept. 21 to Oct. 3 and the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou in November.
Garcia said he cannot just drop Antonio from the PSC roster until an investigation is conducted. Antonio has even threatened to sue the NCFP for its latest actions.