So, Severino play board 1 like Paragua in Online Olympiad

Roy Luarca
Filipinos Sander Severino and Mark Paragua will be playing in board 1 together with Cavite-born Wesley So

The Philippines will own the distinction of having three board 1 players in the first FIDE Online Olympiad starting July 22.

New York-based Grandmaster (GM) Mark Paragua will banner Team Philippines, Cavite-born GM Wesley So will man top board for the United States, and FIDE Master (FM) Sander Severino will head the International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) selection competing in the event that lured 163 federations.

Paragua ruled the men’s qualifiers last month and will be joined in the 6-player mixed team by second-placer Arizona-based GM Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla, Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna, Woman International Master (IM) Jan Jodilyn Fronda, IM Daniel Quizon, and Woman IM Kylen Joy Mordido.

Completing Team Philippines are GMs Darwin Laylo and Rogelio “Joey” Antonio, Woman IMs Catherine Secopito and Bernadette Galas, Michael Concio, and Jerlyn Mae San Diego.

So and GM Sam Shankland will banner the third-ranked Team USA, behind Russia and China, respectively, also composed of GMs Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson, IMs Carissa Yip, Anna Zatonskih and Annie Wang, and Woman GM Tatev Abrahamyan.

Supporting Severino, the reigning world champion among the physically challenged, are former IPCA world champions IM Andrei Gurbanov of Israel, IM Andrei Obodchuk of Russia, and IM Igor Yarmonov of Ukraine. 

Completing the 66th seed are Woman FM Aleksandra Aleksandrova of Israel, Woman IM Anto Jennitha of India, Woman IM Maria Kaydanovich, and Woman FM Svetlana Gerasimova of Russia, FM Ilia Lipilin and Woman FMs Mariya Dorozkhina, Maksim Petrov, and Varvara Nikitskaya, also of Russia.

Team Philippines is ranked 39th overall and 22nd in Division 2, which will start play on August 12. Only the first 15 will advance to the Top Division.

National head coach Eugene Torre said the goal is to surpass our seedings at the start of the tournament.

“We have to advance first, then eye a top 15 finish,” said Torre, Asia’s first GM. “I believe in their capabilities.”

The players were chosen after qualifying tournaments conducted by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines headed by Cong. Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

Team Philippines has been dubbed Agila ng Pilipinas by NCFP executive director Atty. Cliburn Anthony Orbe.

With the Philippines in Division 2 are Gemany, Romania, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Italy, England, Hungary, Israel, Belarus, Sweden, Croatia, Indonesia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Colombia, Ecuador, North Macedonia, Latvia, Switzerland, Norway, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Australia, Moldova, Iceland, Montenegro, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia, and the Netherlands.

Other teams in the Top Division are Armenia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, India, Cuba, Poland, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Georgia, Iran, Canada, Egypt, Peru, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Paraguay, France, Morocco, Algeria, Zimbabwe, and South Africa – the 20 teams nominated by each of the 4 continents. –