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UNITED STATES-based Grandmasters (GMs) Mark Paragua and Banjo Barcenilla will reinforce the Philippines seeking nothing less than glory when the 44th World Chess Olympiad returns to face-to-face action from July 28 to Aug. 10 in Chennai, India.
The National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) recently made the announcement of the team that would also be composed of GMs Darwin Laylo and John Paul Gomez and International Master (IM) Paulo Bersamina.
And it came close to making it an all-GM squad for the first time in the country’s Olympiad history had other Filipino GMs like Oliver Barbosa and Julio Catalino Sadorra were available or chosen by the NCFP, which decided to forego qualification tournaments due to lack of time.
Surprisingly, IM Daniel Quizon, a Hanoi Southeast Asian Games silver medalist who topped the country’s last national championship in Lapu-Lapu, Cebu in December last year, was not included in the team.
“We will go straight to Chennai from here, it would be a very long flight,” said Mr. Barcenilla, who is based in Arizona, United States.
Meanwhile, the women’s squad will bannered by Woman GM (WGM) Janelle Mae Frayna, Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Marie Antoinette San Diego, Shania Mae Mendoza, and WGM-candidate Kylen Joy Mordido.
GM Eugene Torre will coach the men’s team while NCFP chief executive officer GM Jayson Gonzales will handle the women’s side.
The country is seeking to improve on its 37th-placed effort in the men’s and 67th in the women’s in Batumi, Georgia four years ago. — Joey Villar