FILIPINO International Master (IM) Michael Concio, Jr. will try to carry over the momentum of his string of recent feats of late as he sees action in the rich Maharlika Pilipinas Chess League’s Manny Pacquiao International Open Chess Festival starting today in General Santos City.

Just over the weekend, the 17-year-old Mr. Concio has topped the sixth edition of the Kamatyas Rapid Invitational at SM Sucat after edging IMs Ronald Dableo and Angelo Young via tiebreak.

It was apart from his rapid title and standard silver in the Asian Juniors Championships in Tagaytay last month and the Hanoi International Master closed tournament last May.

And if things go the way he wants it, Mr. Concio could end up pocketing the top purse worth a cool P1.14 million, and more importantly, a second of the three norms required to become a Grandmaster.

“We’ll just do our best and see what happens,” said the Dasmariñas-based Zonal champion and World Cup veteran, who left yesterday along with GM Darwin Laylo, IM Daniel Quizon and Mark Jay Bacojo for General Santos.

Mr. Concio, however, knows he’s in for a tough ride as he tackles an ultra-competitive field 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.

Other players to watch are Mr. Laylo, GM John Paul Gomez, IMs Kim Steven Yap, Chito Garma, Ricky de Guzman, Ronald Bancod, Cris Ramayrat, Joel Pimentel and Angelo Young and FIDE Masters Alekhine Nouri, Mari Joseph Turqueza, David Elorta and Jeth Romy Morado.

The meet is bankrolled by boxing legend and former senator Manny Pacquiao and backed by President Bong Bong Marcos, Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Noli Eala and National Chess Federation of the Philippines Chairman and President Butch Pichay. — Joey Villar