THE Philippines’ much-awaited campaign in the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2020 will formally begin on Wednesday, Aug. 12.
But already, there’s a Filipino making everybody take notice in the early part of the prestigious month-long competition.
Reigning International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) world champion FM Sander Severino.
Severino hurdled two of his first three assignments at the top board to lead IPCA to a smashing start in Division 3 -- a five-group, 10-team round-robin tournament to determine the top 15 qualifiers to Division 2.
Bannered by Severino and IM Andrei Gurbanov, IPCA is now tied for second to third places with Scotland with five points on two wins and one draw after three rounds of action.
Portugal leads the way in Group C with six points built around three straight victories over Tajikistan (4-2), UAE (4.5-1.5) and Angola (4.5-1.5).
Severino, the pride and joy of Silay, Negros Occidental, outduelled IM Noaman Omar to lead IPCA to a 5-1 win over the United Arab Emirates in the first round.
Severino followed it up with another victory over FM Sergio Miguel as IPCA routed Angola, 5-1, in second-round action.
The 36-year-old Filipino, however, dropped his third assignment against IM Andrew Greet as IPCA battled Scotland to a 3-3 draw.
IPCA’s remaining six assignments are Portugal, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Chinese-Taipei, Bostwana, and Nigeria.
IPCA needs only to finish in the top three of Group C to advance to the Division 2 where the Philippines is already seeded.
Based on the tournament format, , the top 15 teams from Division 3 -- three from each of the five groups -- will join the 35 seeded registered teams in Division 2.
Division 2 action is scheduled on Aug. 12-16.
The 50 teams in Division 2 will be again divided into five groups of 10 teams of equal strength, with the top 15 teams making it to the Top Division where 40 more top-seeded teams are waiting.
Top Division matches will be played on Aug. 19-23.
The competition shifts to the playoff stages starting Aug. 27, with the final set on Aug. 30.
Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre said he was very proud of Severino’s performance so far in the Online Olympiad.
“I’m very happy to see Sander Severino is doing well right now as IPCA’s top player. Magaling at magalang na bata yan,” said Torre in an earlier interview with People’s Tonight.
Torre, who will serve as coach of the 12-player national team, said he is excited to meet Severino in Division 2 action, provided his team makes it as on eof the top teams in Division 3.
“It’s fun to see another Filipino playing in the Olympiad, kahit pa iba yun team nya. Pare-pareho tayong mga Pilipino,” added Torre, who lost to Severino in the recent “Battle of GMs tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).
To be handled by Torre, the 39th-seeded Filipinos will open their campaign in Group C against Netherlands, England, Croatia, Slovakia, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan plus three qualifiers from Division 3.
Netherlands will be bannered by five-time Olympiad veteran and Russian-born GM Anish Giri (ELO 2754) and Chinese-born GM Peng Zhaoqin (ELO 2358).
England will be led by 2004 world championship runner-up GM Michael Adams (ELO 2701) and nine-time British women’s champion IM Jovanka Houska (2317).
Croatia will be backstopped by former World Youth 18-under champion GM Ivan Saric (ELO 2650) and WIM Borka Franciskovic (ELO 2205).
Slovakia will be led by GM Lubomir Ftacnik and WGM Julia Movsesian.