GRANDMASTER (GM) Joey Antonio will try to live up to his reputation as the country’s chess ironman as he spearheads the 12-player field in the 2021 Philippine National Championships that was ushered in yesterday at the Solea Hotel and Resort in Mactan, Cebu.

GM Mr. Antonio, 59, is making his 38th appearance in the national championship and will be aiming for his 14th crown in the 11-round tournament that stakes a berth to the national squad competing in the 2023 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand and a champion’s purse worth P80,000.

“This will be my 38 years competing in the National Championship since way back 1983,” said GM Mr. Antonio.

GM Darwin Laylo, who has won the event thrice in 2004, 2006 and 2008, is also one of the teams to watch out for along with International Masters (IMs) Ronald Dableo, Daniel Quizon, Paulo Bersamina and Jan Emmanuel Garcia.

Also plunging into battle are Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna, IMs Joel Pimentel, Michael Concio, Jr., Ricky de Guzman, John Marvin Miciano, and Allan Pason.

GM Mr. Antonio was clashing with Mr. Bersamina in the opening round at press time while the other pairings pit Mr. Laylo with Mr. Dableo, Mr. Pason versus Mr. Pimentel, Mr. De Guzman against Mr. Concio, Mr. Garcia with Ms. Frayna, and Mr. Miciano versus Mr. Quizon.

The tournament is being supported by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chair William Ramirez, National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) President Prospero Pichay, Jr., Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino, Chess Movement, Inc. chair Ariel Potot, Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) vice-chair and general manager Royina Garma. — Joey Villar