THE Philippines faces a major hurdle when it opens its campaign in the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2020 next month.
In fact, the GM Eugene Torre-coached Filipinos will have their hands full right away when competition in the 50-team, five-group Division 2 begins on Aug. 12.
The Philippines is bracketed in Group C with world No. 12 Netherlands, No. 14 England, No. 19 Croatia, No. 44 Slovakia, No. 65 Turkmenistan and No. 69 Bangladesh.
Except for Turkmenistan and Bangladesh, the four other countries are seeded higher than the Philippines, which is ranked No. 54 in the latest FIDE list.
It means the GM Mark Paragua-led Filipinos will have to contend with the likes of GM Anish Giri (ELO 2754) of the Netherlands, GM Michael Adams (ELO 2701) of England, GM Ivan Saric (ELO 2746) of Croatia, GM Jan Markos (ELO 2565) of Slovakia, IM Meilis Annaberdiev (ELO 2532) and GM Al-Rakib Mollah Andullah (ELO 2463).
“It’s as good as it gets,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) executive director Atty. Cliburn Orbe when asked about the Division 2 groupings.
“Since we are already in Division 2, all groups are tough. But we believe in our players' capabilities. They now train hard and give their best to qualify to the Top Division,” Orbe told People's Tonight.
Aside from Paragua, the other members of the team are GMs Rogelio Barcenilla Jr., Darwin Laylo and Rogelio Antonio, Jr., IM Danel Quizon, Michael Concio, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, WIM Catherine Secopito, WIM Bernadette Galas, WIM Kylen Joy Mordido and Jerlyn Mae San Diego.
The complete Division 2 groupings:
Group A -- Germany, Spain, Belarus, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Argentina, Iceland.
Group B -- Romania, Italy, Sweden, Slovenia, Latvia, Austria, Montenegro.
Group C -- Netherlands, England, Croatia, Slovakia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan.
Group D -- Turkey, Hungary, Indonesia, Colombia, Switzerland, Australia, Kyrgyzstan.
Group E -- Greece, Israel, Serbia, Ecuador, Norway, Moldova, Estonia.
Actually, the top 15 qualifiers from Division 3 will join these 35 teams listed in Division 2. They will be divided into five groups of three teams each to complete a 10-team cast per group.
The 50 teams in Division 2 will be again divided into five groups of approximately equal strength.
These teams divided into five groups will play a nine-round tournament featuring a mixed team composed of two men, two women, one junior and one girl.
The top three teams of each group will then advance to the Top Division where the top 35 seeded teams are waiting.
In the Top Division, the 35 seeded teams and 15 top teams from Division 2 will be again divided into five groups.
The top 16 teams will advance to the next phase: the knockout playoffs pitting the No. 1 team against the No. 16 team.
The playoffs continue until the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals on Aug. 30.