MAKE or break.
That's how things stand for the Philippines when it opens its campaign against Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia and Germany on the first day of competitions in Division 2 of the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2020 on Friday.
Bannered by GM Mark Paragua and WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, the Filipinos hope to perform well against these three countries in the 10-team, nine-round competition in Group A and boost their chances of advancing to the Top Division.
The Filipinos, seeded fifth with a combined ELO rating of 2212, open fire against Kyrgyzstan, the lowest-rated team in the group with ELO 1868, in the first round.
They return to action several hours later for a much-awaited showdown against perennial Southeast Asian Games rival and third seed Indonesia (ELO 2301) for the second round.
Then comes an all-important third-round battle against top seed Germany in a match that could make or break their chances.
Analysts said the results of these three matches on the first day of action could determine the Filipinos' chances in this unprecedented online team competition borne of the coronavirus pandemic.
National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) executive director Atty Cliburn Orbe said he likes the Filipinos' chances.
“I think we’re in a tougher group now (after the reshuffle). Germany, Belarus, Bulgaria and Belgium are all tough opponents,” said Orbe when asked by People's Tonight about the Filipinos’ main rivals.
He admitted that the Filipinos have no choice but to perform above their ratings to finish in the top three in the group and advance to the Top Division.
“Malalakas yun mga kalaban, pero kailangan natin talunin. But as I've said, they are not unbeateable.We have a good chance.”
Chess expert Peter Long of Malaysia also believes the Filipinos will do well, especially in the rapid style format.
“It's 15-minute games and the ratings are also not an accurate indicator. So I believe Philippines will do very well,” said Long in his Facebook post.
Based on the tournament format, three rounds will be played each day from Aug. 14-16.
On Aug. 15, the Philippines will battle Belarus in the fourth round, Belgium in the fifth round and Australia in the sixth round.
The Filipinos will wrap up their campaign against Bulgaria in the seventh round, Bangladesh in the eighth round and Turkmenistan in the ninth round, all on Aug. 16.
If the Filipino finish in the top three of Group A, they will join the top finishers in the other groups and move into the Top Division where the top 25 seeded teams await.
Joining Paragua and Frayna in the first team are GM Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. , WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, IM Daniel Quizon and WIM Kylen Mordido.
GMs Rogelio Antonio Jr. and Darwin Laylo will play as reserves in the men's side,
Also with the team are WIM Catherine Pereña-Secopito and Bernadette Galas (women), Michael Concio (boy) and Jerlyn Mae San Diego (girls).
The Filipinos' complete schedule:
Aug. 14 - Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Germany
Aug. 15 - Belarus, Belgium, Australia
Aug. 16 - Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan.
Of the nine Group A teams, Germany is the strongest with ELO 2419, followed by Belarus with ELO 2327 and Indonesia with ELO 2301.
GM Svane Rasmus of Germany is also the highest-rated player in Group A with an ELO rating of 2644.
The complete Division 2 teams:
Group A -- Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, Belarus, Belgium, Australia, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan.
Group B -- Singapore, Romania, Slovakia, Thailand, Austria, Israel, Latvia, Moldova, IPCA, Greece.
Group C -- Portugal, Switzerland, Albania, North Macedonia, Netherlands, Slovenia, Italy, Estonia, Jordan, Spain.
Group D -- Iceland, Chile, Sweden, Serbia, Turkey, Denmark, Guatemala, Ireland, Croatia,Norway.
Group E -- Bolivia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Montenegro, Scotland, England, Hungary, Ecuador.