Antonio gives up slot in World Chess Olympiad

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Grandmaster Joey Antonio, the reigning national champion, will not be joining the Philippine team bound for the 42nd World Chess Olympiad set Sept. 1-14 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

National Chess Federation of the Phl executive director GM Jayson Gonzales said he and Antonio, who topped the Battle of the GMs that served as the Olympiad qualifying event, gave up their spots, allowing US-based GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, GMs John Paul Gomez, Eugene Torre and Banjo Barcenilla and International Master Paulo Bersamina to fill up the final roster.

“Both of us co-champions opted not to play,” said Gonzales, who finished tied for first with Antonio in the Battle of GMs but ended up second in tiebreaks.

There were talks that Antonio was removed because of his alleged criticisms aimed at NCFP but the former Olympiad veteran has yet to respond to queries from The STAR at press time.

Sadorra will man the top board for the second straight edition after he assumed the position in Norway two years ago, while Gomez, Torre, Barcenilla and Bersamina take the second to fifth boards.

Gonzales will still join the delegation as the team captain of the women’s team of WIM Janelle Mae Frayna, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Cristy Lemiel Bernales, WFM Shanai Mae Mendoza and WIM Catherine Perena Secopito.

James Infiesto is the non-playing skipper of the men’s squad.

The team leaves on Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. via Turkish Airlines and will arrive in Baku on Thursday, 12 noon.

Sadorra and Barcenilla will fly on separate flights from the US to Baku.                                  

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