GRANDMASTERS Joey Antonio, Darwin Laylo and John Paul Gomez vie for slots to the Hanoi Southeast Asian (SEA) Games-bound national Hanoi as they see action in the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) qualifying tournament unfolding today at the PACE in Quezon City.

With the exception of International Master (IM) Daniel Quizon and WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, who already secured spots to the squad after topping the National Championship in December last year, the winner of the blitz and rapid events for men and women will automatically qualify to the biennial meet set on May 12-23.

Messrs. Antonio, Laylo and Gomez have SEA Games experience and all are eager to reclaim their place to the squad that would be bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Also joining in the men’s side are IMs Jan Emmanuel Garcia, Ronald Dableo, Paulo Bersamina, Ricky de Guzman, Ronald Bancod, Michael Concio, Jr. and John Marvin Miciano, and FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri.

In the women’s class, WIMs Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Kylen Joy Mordido and Bernadette Galas and WFMs Shania Mae Mendoza, Cherry Ann Mejia and Allaney Jia Doroy are among those tipped to challenge Ms. Frayna for the title.

Other entries are Aglipay Obrero, Mark Jay Bacojo, Jerish John Velarde and Janmyl Dilan Tisado in the men’s and Christy Lamiel Bernales, Vic Glysen Derotas, Viona Nepascua, Justnin Macapuno, Franchesca Largo, Ma. Elayza Villa, Mhage Gerriahlou Sebastian and Rowelyn-Joy Acedo in the women’s.

Chief arbiter Reden Cruz, an International Arbiter title-holder, said the tournament will implement a knockout format where each pair will play six games in blitz and four in rapid. — Joey Villar