NEWLY-crowned Asian Seniors champion GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. hopes to bring a wealth of experience and new-found confidence following a string of success in online competitions to the Philippines’ campaign in the Online Chess Olympiad 2020.
Antonio, undoubtedly one of the country’s winningest players in online chess in the past few years, will be one of four GMs set to see action in the blue-ribbon tournament billed by organizers “as a worthy substitute to the pandemic-delayed 44th Chess Olympiad in Moscow.”
The 58-yer-old Antonio will play behind United States-based GMs Mark Paragua and Rogelio Barcenilla and GM Darwin Laylo in the mixed team competition featuring two men, two women, one junior and one girl.
“As I’ve said, it’s always a big honor for me to represent our country. Lagi naman tayo nakahanda,” said Antonio in last Thursday’s “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.
Antonio, who added another feather to his cap by winning the Asian Seniors last week, said he will do his best regardless of the board assignment he will get.
National team coach GM Eugene Torre and National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) executive director atty. Cliburn Orbe said the Filipinos have a very good chance of making it to the Top 15 in Division 2 and advance to the Top Division where the top 35 teams are seeded.
Although the tournament formally started last July 25, the Filipinos will not see action until Aug. 12 when Division 2 begins.
“Maganda yun performance natin sa Batumi Olympiad, kaya na-seeded tayo sa Division 2. Malaking bagay yun. That means we have more time to prepare,” added Torre.
In Division 2, the Philippines is listed alongside Germany, Romania, Netherlands, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy, England, Hungary, Israel, Belarus, Sweden, Croatia, Indonesia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Colombia, Ecuador, North Macedonia, Latvia, Switzerland, Norway, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Australia, Moldova, Iceland, Montenegro, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Estonia.
Early results show Myanmar, Lebanon and Cyprus take the lead in their respective pools in the 30-team Base Division.
Myanmar, bannered by IMs Wynn Zaw Htun and Myint Han, shows the way with 15.5 points after three rounds.
Fiji is second with 14 points followed by Pakistan and Oman with 12 points apiece.
In Pool B, Lebanon holds a three-point lead over Bahrain also after three rounds.
Led by IM Eid Fadi’s three straight wins, the Lebanese have 18 points against 15 points of Bahrain and 14.5 points of Qatar.
Pool C saw Cyprus take a commanding lead with 15.5 points, four points ahead of Aruba and Libya.
Based on the tournament format, the top 15 teams from the Base Division will advance to Division 4 where 35 seeded teams are entered.