IT WILL be the Philippines versus Asia as the 17th Asian Continental Chess Championships-
2nd Manny Pacquiao Cup gets underway today at the Tiara Oriental Hotel in Malugay St., Makati.
Senator Manny Pacquiao and National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) President/Chairman Prospero "Butch" Pichay will make the ceremonial moves during the 2:45 p.m. opening ceremony in this 14-nation nine-round tournament which offers US$10,000.and a slot to the 2019 World Cup to the men's champion.
First-round pairings will be drawn an hour before the opening, according to tournament director GM Jayson Gonzales.
GM Wang Hao (ELO 2730) and WGM Guo Qi, both of China, are the top seed in the men's and women's division of the tournament supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
The other players to watch are GM Wei Yi (ELO 2728) of China, GM Le Quang Luem (ELO 2714) of Vietnam, GM Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (ELO 2701) of India, GM Baskaran Adhiban (ELO 2695) of India, GM Parham Maghsoodloo (ELO 2688) of Iran, GM Ni Hua (ELO 2683) of China, GM S. P. Sethuraman (ELO 2664) of India, GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (ELO 2641) and GM Lu Shanglei (ELO 2636) of China.
GM John Paul Gomez is the highest-rated Filipino player at 35th with ELO of 2450
The other Filipino campaigners are GMs Darwin Laylo and Rogelio Antonio, Jr., newly-cruiwned Asian Seniors champion Chito Garma and IMs Paulo Bersamina, Haridas Pascua, Oliver Dimakiling, Jan Emmanuel Garcia, Ricky de Guznan and Angelo Young, John Marvin Miciano, Jerad Docena, John Merill Jacutina, Stephen Rome Pangilinan, Daniel Quizon and Mari Joseph Turqueza.in the men's division.
Notably absent are the top five Filipino players in the recent FIDE list -- GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra, Oliver Barbisa, Mark Paragua, Joseph Sanchez and Richard Bitoon -- who are all based abroad
Asa's first GM Eugene Torre also begged.off from participation but will serve as coach of the Filipinos.
WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, WFM Shania Nae Mendoza, and WIMs Catherine Secopito, Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Marie Antoinette San Diego and Bernadette Galas will banner the country's bid in the women’s section.
The top five finishers in the men’s division will gain seats to the World Chess Cup 2019 set Nov. 4-30 in Khanty-Mansyisk, Russia where the top two will automatically booked a berth to the Candidates Tournament serving as the last stop before the next World Championship in 2020.
A Challenger Division for players with ELO rating of 2249 and below will be held simultaneously.