Monday, December 13, 2010

Bitoon replaces Antonio in RP team

THE National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) has named Cebuano IM Richard Bitoon to replace GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr. in the national team that will play in the Chess Olympiad in Russia this month and in the Asian Games in China this November.

Antonio was dropped from the national team after he elected to play in two minor events in the United States rather than compete in the Pichay Cup and the first Campomanes Memorial.

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Bitoon, 34, who was called the Gata Kamsky of Cebu while he was growing up, said he is ready to take part in his third Olympiad.

He scored a respectable 6/9 points in the Campo Memorial to tie for seventh to 13th together with Wesley So, Darwin Laylo and several others. The three were the best Filipino placers in the memorial.

Bitoon also donned the national colors in the 1998 Kalmykia and 2000 Istanbul Olympiads which was highly controversial. The issue is too complicated to be discussed here as the Philippines sent two separate teams.

Bitoon, the 2008 Singapore Masters champion, will be joining GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Eugene Torre in the national team.

We placed 46th in the last Olympiad at Dresden. Can we do better without Joey around?

Meanwhile, Antonio is planning to sue NCFP and president Prospero Pichay for removing him from the RP team.

NM Samuel Estimo, Joey’s lawyer explained that under the by-laws of the NCFP, before any disciplinary action can be slapped against any player, he must be given a chance to defend himself before the NCFP Internal Affairs Committee after proper notice has been served.

In the case of Antonio, Estimo said the GM was denied his right to due process.

NEW GMS. I featured Cebuano Banjo Barcenilla a few weeks ago as our next GM.

Joining him is Italy based-IM Roland Salvador who recently snared his third and final norm in Italy late last month.

About 250 players competed in the International Chess Tournament Fermo-Porto San Giorgio. In the Master Open, six players shared first place with 7.0 points each: IM Salvador Roland (2498, Philippines ), GM Epishin Vladimir (2598, Russia), GM Prohaszka Peter (2526, Hungary), GM Meijers Viesturs (2474, Latvia), GM David Alberto (2622, Luxemburg) and GM Leon Hoyos Manuel (2556, Mexico).

Salvador was declared winner because he had the best tiebreak score.

NCFP President/ Chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. lauded Salvador’s latest feat.

“He deserves this... I’m really happy for him. This proves once again that the Filipino can be at par with the world’s best woodpushers,” said Pichay.

“Inaalay ko po sa bayan ang pagkapanalo ko dito sa Italy at pagkuha ng third at final GM norm. Naging inspirasyon din po natin si President Pichay na patuloy na sumusuporta sa local at international tournaments para lalong mapalakas ang chess sa Pilipinas,” said Salvador.

With his impressive performance, Salvador raised his Elo rating from 2498 to 2511. He achieved his first GM norm in 2004 in Bratto, Italy and picked up his second in 2006 in Genova, Italy.

The two will soon join the ranks of RP’s elite group of GMs—Torre, the late Rosendo Balinas Jr., Antonio Jr., Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor, Nelson Mariano II, Mark Paragua, So, Laylo, Gonzales, Gomez and Joseph Sanchez .

Salvador’s and Barcenilla’s status as full-pledge GMs will be confirmed in the upcoming Fide Congress to coincide with the Chess Olympiad in Russia on Sept. 21 to Oct. 3.


September 10, 2010.

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