Nouri tops selection tourney, boosts GM bid
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - February 9, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Alekhine Nouri breathed life to his stalled Grandmaster bid as he bested fancied foes to rule the Philippine Sports Commission-National Chess Federation of the Philippines selection tournament at the PACE Center in Quezon City last Friday.

Nouri, a 14-year-old FIDE Master who was named after former Russian world champion Alexander Alekhine, drew with grizzled veteran International Master Ricky de Guzman in the 11th and final round and then edged another Olympian and IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia via tiebreaker to claim his first championship in a long while.

It was a significant performance for Nouri after he came one win short of topping the Malaysian Chess Festival blitz event in Kuala Lumpur last year. He eventually wound up a solid fifth and the best placed Filipino there.

More importantly, it rekindled the fire in the GM campaign of Nouri,who made heads turn when he became the world’s youngest FM at seven years old in 2013.

Nouri, a Grade 6 student at Far Eastern University-Diliman, strengthened his hopes of keeping his place in the national pool.

He would need another solid effort when the second leg of the selection process resumes from Feb. 24 to March 1 also at the PACE.

NCFP executive director Cliburn Orbe said they would regularly hold qualifying tournaments every six months starting with the Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao legs that will culminate in a semifinals event with the top eight battling the current top eight in the pool six months from now.

“This is to make the slots in the national pool open to everyone while keeping the current members of the pool on their feet and not be complacent,” said Orbe.

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