So to defend title in Battle of the Grandmaster

GRANDMASTER Wesley So will try to continue his dominance in the local shore as he vies for a fourth straight Battle of the Grandmasters title in as many tries on July 16-23.

The 17-year-old chess wizard from Bacoor, Cavite topped the first three staging of the round robin tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) under Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

But the country’s highest rated player is expecting tough resistance from the other competitors.

“Hindi ka naman makakasali sa Battle of the Grandmasters kung hindi ka malakas na player,” So noted. “Sa kondisyon na lang siguro magkakatalo.”

His superb condition won him the title last year. He swept his last three matches to rally past GM John Paul Gomez after trailing in the early rounds.

“It’s a long tournament and lahat ng laro fight to the finish kaya kailangan kondisyon ka talaga,” said So.

Gomez will try to make amends for the missed opportunity this time. The former multiple junior champion is one of the most consistent local player the past few years.

But they can’t discount veteran players like GMs Eugene Torre and Rogelio “Joey” Antonio. The two pillars of local chess in the ‘90s remain a steady force especially in long game.

GM Mark Paragua is also showing flashes of his old brilliance recently and is expected to contend for the title.

The other GMs in the field – Darwin Laylo, Rogelio Barcenilla, Roland Salvador and Joseph Sanchez – are also in peak form.

Even International Masters Oliver Barbosa, Richard Bitoon and Jan Emmanuel Garcia are no pushovers and capable of upstaging their more illustrious counterparts.

The champion in the FIDE rated event supported by Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation will receive P150,000.

Supervising the event are tournament director and new NCFP executive director GM Jayson Gonzales and international arbiter Gene Poliarco. Liberty Icao


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