August 12, 2020

IN  chess parlance, they call it zugzwang.

It is a situation in chess where the player is put at a disadvantage even before making a move.

That’s how some analysts now describe the Philippines, which opens its campaign in the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad 2020 in a make-or-break situation starting Friday.

Bannered by GM Mark Paragua and WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, the Filipinos will now play in Group A,  a strong group compared to Group C as previously announced.

On Friday, the  Filipinos open their campaign against former Russian republic Kyrgyzstan in the first round, Southeast Asian rival Indonesia in the second round and  top favorite Germany in the third round.

The Philippines is seeded fifth with an average ELO rating of 2212.

Germany is the top seed with ELO 2319, while Kyrgyzstan is No. 10 with ELO 1868.

Indonesia is seeded third with ELO 2301.

Based on 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.

Then, the Filipinos play Bulgaria, Bangladesh and Turkmenistan in the last three rounds on Aug. 16.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) executive director Atty Cliburn Orbe  described the Filipinos’ new group as a lot tougher than the previous one.

“I think we’re in a tougher group now.  Germany, Belarus, Bulgaria and Belgium are all tough opponents,” said Orbe  when asked about the Filipinos’ main rivals.

But Orbe  admitted 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 talunin. They are not unbeateable.”

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.

Bulgaria is fourth  with ELO 2276 and the Philippines fourth with 2212.

GM Svane Rasmus of Germany is the highest-rated player in Group A with an ELO rating of 2644.

GM Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus is second with an ELO of 2633, followed by GM Aleksander Delchev of Bulgaria with ELO 2630 and FM Daniel Fridman of Germany with ELO 2610.

Paragua is fifth with ELO 2573.

The Philippines’ No. 2 player, GM Rogelio Barcenilla is No. 18 with ELO 2463, GM Rogelio Antonio Jr. is No. 22 with ELO 2426 and GM Darwin Laylo is No. 37 with ELO 2338.

IM Daniel Quizon, the team’s top junior player, is No. 59 with ELO 2164, while reserve Michael Concio is No.83 with 2010.