by Marlo Bernardino
FILIPINO Grandmaster (GM) Rogelio "Joey" Antonio Jr. battled to a draw Kazakh International Master (IM) Aitkazy Baimurzin in the opening round of the FIDE World Seniors 2019 Chess Championships Tuesday night at the Rin Grand Hotel in Bucharest, Romania.
Playing black, the 57-year-old Antonio (elo 2427) placed 2nd in the 2017 edition of the event held in Acqui Terme, Italy, and Baimurzin (1995) split the point after 30 moves of the Reti Opening game in the 50-and-above category.
The Quezon City resident Antonio, the country's 13-time Philippine Open Champion who hails from Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro edged out of the opening but wrong sequence of moves resulted in white (Baimurzin ) getting a slightly better position.
Baimurzin offered a draw on move 25. The draw offer changed everything so the game was drawn at move 30, as FIDE (World Chess Federation) per rules.
Antonio's trip is sponsored by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines headed by its chairman/president rep. Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr., the Philippine Sports Commission and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) chair and CEO Andrea Domingo.
He is also supported by Prage Management Corporation and Xavier School as he takes on David Filipovich (elo 2050) of Canada in Round 2. Filipovich, on the other hand, drew with Armenian Grandmaster (GM) Artashes Minasian (elo 2486) after 54 moves of English Opening.
“The first round is one of the toughest rounds in any tournament. It usually sets the tone of how you’re going to perform,” said eighteen-seed Antonio
"We hope to perform well in this event," added Antonio.
International Master (IM) Angelo Young (elo 2288), meanwhile defeated Welsh Davis Lee (elo 1921) after 32 moves of Queens Pawn Opening using the white pieces.
Young, who made waves in the American chess circuit, will meet Romanian Gabriel Dobrescu (elo 1888) in the next round, winner over United States bet Ramesh Jhunjhnuwala (elo 2206).
Top seed GM Kiril Georgiev (2582) of Republic of Macedonia, third seed GM Zurab Sturua (2540) of Georgia, fifth seed GM Mihail Marin (2521) and sixth seed GM Vladislav Nevednichy (2518) of Romania, seventh seed GM Ivan Morovic Fernandez (2505) of Chile and eight seed GM Alex Yermolinsky (2498) of the United States dominated their respective rivals.
In the 65-and-over section, Fide Master (FM) Cesar Caturla (elo 2276) settled for a truce with Ukranian Moisel Khazankin (elo 1954) after 50 moves of Sicilian Dragon skirmish handling the black pieces.
Caturla, a member of the Philippine team to the 1976 Haifa (Israel) Chess Olympiad will slug it out with Italian Fide Master (FM) Giuseppe Valenti (elo 1982) in Round 2. Valenti held to a draw with Ukranian International Master (IM) Valentin Bogdanov (elo 2350) in the opening round.
Top pick Armenian GM Rafael Vaganian (elo 2514) bested Romanian Gheorghe Candea (elo 2005) after 29 moves of an Alekhine defense to flexed his muscles in the first round so did as third pick GM Evgeny Sveshnikov (elo 2485) and fourth pick GM Yuri S Balashov (elo 2457) of Russia, 7th pick GM Carlos Garcia Palermo (elo 2421) of Italy, 8th pick GM Jens Kristiansen (elo 2411) of Denmark, 9th pick IM Evgueni Chevelevitch (elo 2411) of Germany and10th pick GM Jose Luis Fernandez Garcia (elo 2404) of Spain.-Marlon Bernardino-
Photo shows 13-time Philippine Open Champion Grandmaster (GM) Rogelio "Joey" Antonio Jr. (left) playing with Jericho Winston Cu, a grade 4 pupil of Xavier School in a rare 45 board simultaneous exhibition last Saturday at the Xavier School in San Juan City.-Marlon Bernardino-