THE Philippines, bannered by IPCA (International Physically-Disabled Chess Association) world champion Sander Severino, will be one of the countries to watch in the coming FIDE Online Olympiad for People with Disabilities on Nov. 20- Dec. 3.
Severino, who made history by winning the first IPCA Online World Championship last June 17, will play top board for the seventh-seeded Filipinos in the tournament organized by FIDE as part of the United Nations “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” celebrations on Dec. 3.
Severino, the 35-year-old pride and joy of Silay, Negros Occidental, will spearhead the Filipino team that also includes Henry Lopez, Jasper Rom, Darry Bernardo and Cheyzer Crystal Mendoza.
Davao City-based chess official James Infiesto will be the coach of the team, with Roel Abelgas as assistant coach.
Based on FIDE website, a total of 61 registered teams from 45 different countries are expected to participate in the event that allows four games of three open section slots and a woman.
Poland, Germany, the Philippines, Israel, and Cuba are the favorites, according to the initial rating, according to the FIDE report.
The five countries are followed by other traditional “chess superpowers” like Russia and Ukraine.
The Filipinos are seeded seventh — thanks to Severino, who is the fifth highest-rated among the 150 participants with an ELO of 2364.
Severino can count on his teammates to deliver.
Lopez and Rom played alongside Severino in the Philippine team that dominated the 2017 ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The newcomers in the national team supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) are Bernardo and Mendoza.
Bernardo is currently a mainstay of the Far Eastern University (FEU), while Mendoza is University of the Philippines (UP) standout.
The event will consist of two stages.
The first one is a seven-round Swiss System event on Nov. 20-28, from which the best four teams will qualify to play a double-round semifinal on Nov. 29-30.
The two best teams will then advance to the finals, while the two others will compete for third prize.
The time control in all stages is 25 minutes + 10 seconds, and for the first time, a FIDE event will be held on Tornelo, a web-based tournament management software.
Overall, a total of 400 participants, led by GM Marcin Tabir of Poland and GM Yaacov Silberman of Israel, and 12 international masters, are entered.
Nguyen Tran of the United States, born in 2011, will be the youngest participant, while Aldric Gomez of France will be the oldest, at 79 years old.
The event will be as global as expected from an Online Olympiad, with 21 teams from Asia, 20 from Europe, 13 from the Americas, and seven from Africa.