Blind chesser fuels PH Para’s hot start in world online tilt

Lynde Salgados
Blind chesser fuels PH Para’s hot start in world online tilt

STRONG START. NM Rodolfo Sarmiento, a blind Filipino chesser, inspires the country’s early campaign.


Visually impaired NM Rodolfo Sarmiento, a last-minute Philippine entry, scores a gutsy win as Fide master Sander Severino also props up the country’s opening-day bid

The Philippine Paralympic chessers were off to a rousing start, winning four and yielding just a draw in five board matches at the start of the 4th World Championship for People with Disabilities on Friday, November 5, via online format.

Seeded fifth, Fide master Sander Severino, the reigning International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) world champion from Silay City, Negros Occidental, essayed the Nimzo Indian defense with black to reach a favorable endgame.

Facing four against two pawns disadvantage, his Ukrainian foe Svitlana Solomna resigned after 47 moves.

The 13th-seed national master Jasper Rom from Danao, Cebu City, also won on move 47 with black after his Polander opponent Malwina Szewczyk resigned in the face of the Filipino’s overwhelming pawns and powerful Rook in a lopsided Colle System encounter.

Seeded 26th, Darry Bernardo from Angeles City, Pampanga, expertly executed with white the French Winawer’s exchange variation that led to a Knight forked on Babuk Yesu’s King and Rook with damaging effect.

After seeing he can’t hold an enemy’s passed pawn on A6 from queening, following a forced trade of the major pieces, the Indian player resigned in 52 moves.

Providing great inspiration on the opening night was the Philippines’ last-minute entry of the visually impaired NM Rodolfo Sarmiento.

The gutsy Sarmiento from Tagaytay City outwitted Almas Shaimov of Kazakhstan in 50 moves, handling the black pieces through instinct and whetted mind in their French advance skirmishes.

“He made it despite that he’s completely blind,” Para team coach NM James Infiesto said of Sarmiento who left the Kazakh with only one pawn to cling on the board against the Black’s three pawns plus a whole Rook.

NM Henry Roger Lopez could have made it 5 of 5 for the Filipinos in the opener of the 10-day tourney that attracted a total of 246 participants from around 50 countries. 

But he squandered the initiative early in the opening with a slight mistake in his Modern Benoni setto with Leri Talikadze of Georgia.

Left with no option, the Panabo, Davao del Norte pride Lopez sacrificed a rook for him to force a perpetual check via repetition of moves and a draw in 46 squeakers.

“My opponent was really strong with sharp moves that needed a keen eye for careful analysis. He had a dangerous pawn on D7 that I managed to counter-attack. It was really a wild game,” Lopez told Rappler.

This is the first time for the core of the bemedalled Philippine Paralympic team to compete in the FIDE-sanctioned world championship organized by Dresdner Schachfestival e.V. until November 14.

It is a nine-round Swiss tournament with 45 minutes + 30 seconds increment per move, starting from move 1,  with an individual competition and additional team ranking. 

Its winners will earn the titles of “World Chess Champion among Disabled 2021” in the individual ranking and “World Chess Team Champion among Disabled 2021” in the team competition. –