HOST Bacolod City has fielded in two fighting teams it hopes would contend in the 1st Masskara Festival National Inter-Provinces, Cities and Municipalities Chess Team Championships, the biggest local tournament since the pandemic that started yesterday at the Forest Part Resort.

One team will be spearheaded by Grandmaster Darwin Laylo and FIDE Master David Elorta, Jr. and backstopped by Jerry Areque and Brylle Arellano while International Master Joel Pimentel will lead the other squad.

“We’re giving it all to have a chance to win this strong tournament,” said Mr. Laylo, who was part of the national team that saw action in the World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India a few months ago.

Grandmaster Joey Antonio, for his part, plays top board for Calapan City, a team that also has IM Emmanuel Emperado, Joselito Asi and Nezil Merilles.

The five-day event will stake more than P600,000 in cash prizes with the champion pocketing P150,000, second placer P100,000 and third placer P50,0000 courtesy of the city of Bacolod headed by Mayor Alfredo Benitez and the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

The tournament will implement an Olympiad style format where each squad will be allowed to field in a maximum of five players with four to play, according to NCFP chief executive officer Grandmaster Jayson Gonzales.

Apart from Bacolod, Negros Occidental has entered several squads including San Carlos, Escalante, Silay City, Talisay City, Vicorias City, and Cadiz. — J. Villar