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Barbosa given until Thursday to decide joining Phl team in Chess Olympiad

Oliver Barbosa

MANILA, Philippines – Grandmaster Oliver Barbosa will have two days to decide whether or not to play for the Philippine team seeing action in the 41st World Chess Olympiad set Aug. 1-15 in Tromso, Norway.

"They just e-mailed me earlier," Barbosa on Monday told The STAR, referring to the letter from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines asking him if he's playing for the Olympiad-bound squad.

The 27-year-old Barbosa, who arrived along with fellow GM Mark Paragua recently in New York after participating in the 42nd World Open in Arlington, Virginia, said he was given by the NCFP until Thursday (Phl time) to decide.

"They gave me two days so I have until Thursday (Phl time) to decide. For now, I will rest first because I'm coming off three straight open tournaments," said Barbosa. "Will probably pray and go to church tomorrow night and maybe I can decide."

Barbosa said he is bothered by the current issue and managed only 5.5 points out on three wins and five draws against a loss in Arlington tournament where Paragua finished higher with six points.

"Honestly, I can't focus and think right during my games," said Barbosa.

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It can be recalled that Barbosa and Paragua left the country in disgust last January after their P30,000 monthly salary from the Phl Sports Commission was cut down to P8,000 for their failure to strike gold in last year’s Myanmar Southeast Asian Games.

The NCFP vowed to elevate Barbosa to "priority status" where he will receive a monthly stipend worth P40,000 but a check with the Phl Sports Commission revealed it hasn't happened yet.

As it is, the team is already mired with concerns over Wesley So's decision to switch federations and serve as the United States' coach in Tromso, leaving the Phl without its best player.

Without So and Barbosa, the Filipinos will have to do a roster composed of GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, John Paul Gomez and Eugene Torre and possibly two among newly-minted International Master Paulo Bersamina, GM Darwin Laylo or Janelle May Frayna.

Barbosa is a vital cog in the country’s campaign as he played the second board behind top board player So in the 40th Istanbul Olympiad two years ago and scored a solid seven points in 10 matches for an impressive performance rating of 2668.

So had already said with finality that he would not play for the Filipinos while reiterating he would coach the US team instead – a slap in the face of the NCFP and PSC which did not approve his bonus for winning the gold medal in the 2013 Universiade in Russia.

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