GRANDMASTER slayer Johnnel Balquin and his team of local players will lead Cagayan de Oro's campaign in the cash-rich Iligan Diyandi Festival Chess Team Tournament 2019 on September 21 to 22 at the Ground Floor of Robinson's Place in Iligan City.
The 41-year-old Balquin, who listed Grandmaster Darwin Laylo among his prominent chess victims, will team up with Manila-based Kagay-anon Christian Arroyo in their quest for the P100,000 top-purse in the team event category.
It can be recalled that the pair fronted Goldcrest Marketing in taking the runner-up honor behind the squad of Manila chessers during the P240,000 2nd Robert Tan Memorial Cup team tourney a few months ago in Limketkai Mall, Cagayan de Oro.
"It's a free-for-all tourney. Daghan kusog from Manila, Cebu, and Davao, which is but normal kay dako ang premyo. Maningkamot lang gihapon 'ming Yanyan (Arroyo) ani," Balquin told SunStar Cagayan de Oro.
The Goldcrest outfit of National Master Roly Tan will be fielding in the troika of NM Levi Mercado, newly crowned Abu Dhabi Challenger section winner Jaime Joshua Frias II, and veteran Cleto Vasquez.
Air Force stalwart Lennon Hart Salgados, who also strongly defended the Oro turf in the Memorial Cup, will not be available in Iligan. But fellow air man International Master Richelieu Salcedo III has signified to see action probably in the company of Iligan pride Dr. Wil Maghanoy.
Organized by Metro Iligan Chess Club, the Diyandi Festival also offers P60,000, P40,000, P30,000, P20,000, and P10,000 to competing teams that will make the top 6 cricle.
"Dili lang sa mga premyo malingaw pud ang mga participants sa among mga tourist spots sa Iligan like the Maria Cristina Falls and Tinago Falls," said youthful Julius Ablin, who once played with Lennon Hart -- representing Northern Mindanao -- in the Palarong Pambansa during their high school days.