By Roy Luarca
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:01:00 03/24/2009
DAPITAN CITY—Defending champion Wesley So tries to keep his clean slate against veteran GM Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor at the start of the Phoenix Petroleum-Dapitan City “Battle of Grandmasters” on Tuesday at the Dapitan City Resort Hotel.
The 15-year-old So has beaten Villamayor twice against one draw in their head-to-head duel, all with the black pieces, making the country’s highest-rated player the slight favorite to take a big head-start in the men’s division of the tournament staking nearly P900,000 in prizes.
So, with an ELO rating of 2627, will handle black anew as he tries to sustain the momentum of his recent exploits that included a victory in Group C of the Corus tournament in The Netherlands, the top junior award in the Aeroflot Open in Russia and a recent triumph in the Barley Rapid Chess.
Out to stop So’s dominance are Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre, GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio, fresh off a successful stint in the United States where he ruled 10 of 11 events he took part in; and GM John Paul Gomez.
The resurgent Torre will be playing white against International Master Rolando Nolte while Antonio, who came in from Iligan City Monday afternoon, will be facing IM Julio Catalino Sadorra with the black pieces.
Gomez, the country’s highest scorer in last year’s Dresden Chess Olympiad, will battle GM Jayson Gonzales as the quest for the P200,000 champion’s purse begins in the tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines headed by Prospero “Butch” Pichay.
Some of the women’s division matches pits WIM Beverly Mendoza against Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Cristy Bernales against Loreshyl Cuison and Catherine Perena against Rida Jane Young.
The 11-round tournament, being held in cooperation with Mayor Dominador Jalosjos, former congressman Romeo Jalosjos and Vice Mayor Patri Chan, ends on March 31.
Expected to grace the opening ceremony are International Chess Federation (FIDE) honorary chair Florencio Campomanes, Phoenix Petroleum president Dennis Uy and brand and marketing manager Jay Delloso and Secretary to the Mayor Alemarlou Dagpin.
Source: Sports Inquirer