By Kristel Satumbaga
For the first time in a long while, most of the Grandmasters the country has produced will “wage war” Sunday when the highly-anticipated Battle of the GMs, also known as the “Cong. Pichay Birthday Cup”, unfolds online.
Eleven GMs, majority of whom are semiretired or inactive, will spearhead the 16-player cast vying for the total cash pot worth P100,000, including P25,000 to the champion.
Eugene Torre, Julio Catalino Sadorra, Oliver Barbosa, John Paul Gomez, Jayson Gonzales, Richard Bitoon and Roland Salvador have all come out from chess hiatus to face a strong field that included reigning bullet king Mark Paragua, Banjo Barcenilla, Darwin Laylo, Joey Antonio and Janelle Mae Frayna, the country’s first and only Woman GM.
Also seeing action are International Master Angelo Young, FIDE Master Sander Severino, FM Narquinden Reyes and National Master Giovanni Mejia – who earned berths through a one-day qualifying tournament.
Sadorra, who has temporarily set aside playing after being named University of Texas-Dallas coach last year, is the top seed and faces off Mejia while the second-seeded Paragua tackles Frayna.
The 68-year-old Torre, who hasn’t been active since he took the coaching reins of the national men’s team, clashes with Severino, who crowned himself world rapid champion of IPCA exclusive for chessers with physical disability.
Other pairings pit Laylo with Antonio, Barcenilla with Young, Gomez with Salvador, Bitoon with Gonzales and Barbosa with Reyes.
The one-day tournament will use a knockout format where each will be given two games using time-control of 10 minutes with 10 seconds increment.
The “Armageddon” tiebreaker will be applied in case of a tie.