Severino-led team to compete in 4th World Championship for People with Disabilities

Lynde Salgados
Severino-led team to compete in 4th World Championship for People with Disabilities

PARA PLAYERS. Philippine bets (from left) NM Henry Lopez, NM Jasper Rom, and FM Sander Severino expect a solid showing in the world event.  


The Philippine Paralympic chess team expects to keep pace with the top bets in the world event pitting 200 players from over 40 countries

Reigning International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) world chess champion Sander Severino and three other Filipino pawn pushers are confident they would bring home the bacon in the 4th World Championship for People with Disabilities to be held online on Friday, November 5.

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

Joining FIDE master Severino from Silay City, Negros Occidental are national masters Jasper Rom from Danao City, Henry Roger Lopez from Panabo, Davao del Norte, and Darry Bernardo from Angeles City, Pampanga.

According to the international chess federation, the nine-round Swiss tournament with 45 minutes + 30 seconds increment per move, starting from Move 1, will be an individual competition with an 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.

“We’ll try again to give our best shot with prayers,” said Severino, seeded fifth in the individual event but still among the favorites after he bagged the 2020 IPCA crown to become the first-ever Filipino world champion in the sport.

Close to 200 chessers from over 40 countries are participating in the 10-day event which saw Rom, Bernardo, and Lopez seeded 13th, 26th, and 27th, respectively.

“I believe we can pull this one. We are as experienced as them,” Lopez told Rappler.

Para chess coach and trainer NM James Infiesto said the online world tournament is very timely and the Filipino players will come as well-prepared, owing to the ongoing Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) that they have participated in, even taking the solo leadership in the Southern division after the first round.

Serving as their last warm-up was the PCAP second round’s double-header on Wednesday, November 3, where Severino emerged undefeated in both the blitz and rapid plays as Para team bested Toledo City, 12-9.

Severino was also unbeaten in the nightcap as Para held Camarines to a 10.5-10.5 standoff in a thrilling duel where Lopez both drew his blitz and rapid matches on Board 5.

“I have this profound love for basketball but since it can’t be my sport, I’d settle for the dream to be Steph Curry in chess,” jested Severino, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was a child.

Also on a wheelchair, Lopez said he too was a basketball fan when he was a child – his father was a commercial hoop player in the ‘70s – until he contracted poliomyelitis.

The 4th edition of the world championship for differently abled players intends to satisfy their needs for communication, self-esteem, and recognition at this most difficult time of the pandemic.

For most of the participants, chess is not just a hobby but a source of inspiration, their lifework, and a way to find new friends. –