All four Philippine representatives to the 2021 Chess World Cup are hoping to make the right moves when the prestigious event is staged from July 10 to Aug. 3 in Sochi, Russia.
“Although we’re the underdogs, I’m still confident of our chances,” said Janelle Mae Frayna, the country’s first female Grandmaster, during yesterday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
The 24-year-old Frayna is also the first female to represent the country in the event that is also part of the selection process for the World Championship. She wants to make her stint in Sochi a memorable one.
“The first match is very important given that we are against players ranked higher than all of us,” said Frayna, who has drawn Hungarian Hoang Tranh Trang, originally from Vietnam and now ranked No. 54 in the world, for the first round.
Frayna has played the Hungarian once during the 2018 Chess Olympiad, and the Filipina with a rating of 2179 took a bitter loss. But she said that should not stop her from pushing for the win in the classical match that may last three days.
“Hindi ako natatakot sa kanya kasi I had good chances even though I lost when we played in the 2018 Olympiad,” said Frayna of her opponent that has a rating of 2404.
They will square off in the over-the-board tournament for two straight days with each match lasting as long as six hours. In case of a tie, another match is set on the third day.
“That’s why each game is important,” Frayna told the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Also vying in the event are 16-year-old Daniel Quizon, 15-year-old Michael Concio Jr. and 22-year-old GM hopeful Paulo Bersamina. They are also making their first appearances in the World Cup.
Quizon and Concio, who made it to the event following a strong 1-2 in the Asian Zonal 3.3 qualifier, are eyeing their GM norms while Bersamina, who was nominated by the NCFP like Frayna, is just 38 points away from a GM title.
“I’ll probably need to win seven games in the World Cup but I know it will be difficult,” said Bersamina, who has an ELO rating of 2462. He will face 15-year-old Indian GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa in his opening match.
“They say he’s a future world champion. Tinalo ko na siya nung 11 years old pa lang siya at mataas pa ang rating ko,” said Bersamina during the forum also graced by GM Jayson Gonzales, chief executive officer of the Philippine Chess Federation.
Gonzales said things are in place for their long and costly trip to Russia, adding that the four players have undergone extensive training against the country’s Chess Olympiad veterans.