Pacquiao-backed chess league begins next week

Joey Villar - Philstar.com
Pacquiao-backed chess league begins next week
Chess stock photo.
Image by Devanath from Pixabay

MANILA, Philippines — The Maharlika Pilipinas Chess League’s Manny Pacquiao International Open Chess Festival, the richest tournament in the country in years with a whopping cash pot worth P4.2 million, will unfurl on Tuesday in General Santos with Grandmasters John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo leading the local resistance.

Gomez and Laylo, both Olympiad veterans, are the highest rated locals who have registered and vying for the champion’s purse amounting to P1.14 million, the highest prize in the country since GM Joey Antonio won P1 million in an event by the Philippine National Bank in 1998.

Also throwing their hats into the ring are teenage International Masters Daniel Quizon and Michael Concio Jr., who are considered the future of Philippine chess as the two are campaigning to become the nation’s next GMs.

“We’ll do our best to make the country proud,” said the 18-year-old Quizon, who topped the blitz section of last month’s Asian Juniors Championships hosted by Tagaytay City.

Other locals seeking to hit the jackpot are IMs Kim Steven Yap, Chito Garma, Ricky de Guzman, Cris Ramayrat, Joel Pimentel and Angelo Young and FIDE Masters Alekhine Nouri, Mari Joseph Turqueza, David Elorta and Jeth Romy Morado.

But all of them know they would need to pull the rug from the higher-rated international entries that included GMs Hovhannes Gabuzyan of Armenia, Lucas Van Foreest of the Netherlands, Vitaly Sivuk of Sweden and Pier Luigi Basso of Italy as well as Konstantin Sek of Russia and IMs John Daniel Bryant of the United States and Dragos Ceres of Moldova.

The huge event, organized by MPCL top officials IM Hamed Nouri and International Arbiter Alex Dinoy, coincides with the 44th birthday celebration of boxing legend and former Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

The meet is also being backed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Philippine Sports Commission chair Noli Eala and National Chess Federation of the Philippines chair and president Butch Pichay.

Apart from the champion, the top 20 finishers will also get a prize along with the best category winners for kiddies (Under-14), ladies, juniors (U20), seniors (60 and above) and top local General Santos Players.

Same with the side event where P800,000 is at stake with the champion snaring P300,000 while the best local government unit (LGU), government agency, college, General Santos native and private company also get to take home a prize.


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