Barcenilla wins 1st national title since 1996
Barcenilla wins 1st national title since 1996
Rogelio Barcenilla Jr dethrones national champion Haridas Pascua in the 2019 Battle of the Grandmasters

MANILA, Philippines – Rogelio Barcenilla Jr won his first national title in 23 years, fired up by proving detractors he was past his glory days on Tuesday, November 26.

He dethroned national champion Haridas Pascua in 44 moves of an English Opening, spiced by a queen sacrifice that forced mate.

Barcenilla scored 7 points from 11 rounds, one point above Paulo Bersamina and John Paul Gomez. Pascua, who finished with 5.5 points was tied from third to fifth with Jerad Docena, Jan Emmanuel Garcia, and Darwin Laylo.

The tournament, commonly known as the Battle of the Grandmasters, was held at the Philippine Acaddemy for Chess Excellence in Quezon City.

The tournament was held to select 5 members for the 2020 Chess Olympiad team. Tournament director Jayson Gonzales said two will be chosen from this tournament while the National Chess Federation of the Philippines will determine the next 3 slots. 

The 47-year-old Barcenilla won the Asian Juniors in 1990 and 1991 and finished third in the 1991 World Juniors in Romania. He was a member of the team that ended in seventh place, the highest by the Philippines, in the 1988 Olympiad.

He won the 1996 Far East Bank-Philippine Open.

He had 4 wins and 6 draws as he had to save energy due to a fever during the tournament. 

“It was more of his pride now to prove that he can still be champion despite helping out with our business,” said Barcenilla’s wife, Lilibeth, a former national women’s titlist, in a Facebook message.

Lilibeth said they run 5 assisted living facilities for the elderly in Chandler, Arizona. She said they are American citizens but her husband remained faithful to the National Chess Federation of the Philippines. showing up for national championship.

She said a mutual decision was made for him to concentrate on tactics and study openings. “I told him to be bold and aggressive,” she said.

A crucial game occurred as early as the third round when Sander Severino, the Asian Para Games champ, had Barcenilla on the ropes. But a slow continuation of the attack allowed Barcenilla to regroup,  grab the initiative with a bishop sacrifice and win. This put him on the leaderboard which he did not relinquish. –