PH chessers target semis spots in Asian online chess

Published October 22, 2020, 2:15 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

Mark Paragua chess
Mark Paragua. (File Photo)

The Philippines shoots for semifinal berths on Friday when it clashes with Kazakhstan in the men’s division and Sri Lanka in the women’s side of the Asian Nations Online Chess Cup 2020.

The PH men’s team took the second seeding after a strong performance in the elimination round where they beat the top-seeded Indians and the second-ranked Kazakhs in the seventh and eighth rounds.

The Agilas are expected to field in their top four players in Grandmaster Mark Paragua, GM Banjo Barcenilla, International Master Paulo Bersamina and GM John Paul Gomez.

Or they might opt to play IM Haridas Pascua in lieu of Gomez to stick in the same lineup that downed the Kazakhs, 2.5-1.5, in their elims meeting.

In that first meeting, Pascua won on board four at the expense of IM Denis Makhnev while Bersamina bested GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev on board three.

Barcenilla pulled off an escape act against GM Rustam Khusnutdinov for a draw on board two while Paragua was the lone casualty with a defeat to GM Rinat Jumabayev.

In the women’s side, the Lady Agilas are expected to throw WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, WFM Shania Mae Mendoza and WIM Bernadette Galas into the ring against the lower-rated Sri Lankans, who surprised everyone by gatecrashing into the knockout, two-match quarters.

Entering the playoff round, the Philippines had already won individual board medals courtesy of a gold by Bersamina on board three, a silver by Barcenilla on board two and a bronze by Fronda on board two.

Now they aim to gain more honors as they gun for nothing less than the title.