FILIPINO Fide master (FM) Sander Severino’s world title win in the International Physically Disabled Chess Association (Ipca) World Online Chess Championship 2020 on Wednesday, June 17, came as a breather amid the challenges of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Silay City native, who will turn 35 on June 30, was unbeaten after nine rounds, finishing with 8.5 points in the tournament participated in by the best parachess players in the world.
Israel’s international master (IM) and Russia’s IM Andrei Obodchuk both scored seven points but the former beat the latter with superior tiebreaks, 41.25-31.75, to place second. The Russian salvaged the third spot instead.
Severino, in a Facebook Messenger chat interview, said, “(It’s a) dream come true. Sobrang saya ko po.”
He said, “Everytime naglalaro po ako binibigay ko ang best ko kaya I expect to perform well. Nasa top 3 lagi ang goal ko.”
Severino, who also tied for champion in the first Online Fide Cup for Players with Disabilities in May, drew his second-round match and beat all other eight opponents in the tournament held via lichess.org.
He, however, admitted that he was also nervous even if he just played online.
“Medyo kabado po, kahit lagi ako naglalaro online pero iba pa rin pag official event at nirrepresent ang country. Pero salamat sa suporta ng friends and chess community , sa guidance din ni Coach James maganda ang resulta. Ang kaba andyan talaga lagi, pero ang additional na kaba ko sa internet connection at brownout.”
True enough, after his Round 9 rival IM Ihor Yarmonov of Ukraine, the 2019 Ipca World Champion, resigned, Severino only celebrated for 30 seconds then came the brownout.
“Kung natagalan po konti talo ako sa last game dahil sa brownout,” he added.
He also defeated Harry Sauti of Zambia, Vladimir Kuprin of Russia, IM Andrei Gurbanov of Israel, Ilia Lipilin of Russia, Mikhail Khudov of Russia, Domagoj Glažar - Croatia and Filipino national master (NM) Jasper Rom.
Severino, diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at a young age, drew Vladimir Shumsky of Russia in their second-round clash.
Philippines para chess team coach James Infiesto of Davao City, in a Facebook Messenger chat interview yesterday, said, “this victory in difficult times showed that even during quarantine, we can follow government guidelines and provide international honor.”
The win, according to him, meant so much to the Philippine Para Chess Team as the Ipca World Chess Championships earlier set in Israel was canceled due to the pandemic, thus, organizers held an online version of the tournament; and the Asean Para Games, which the country was supposedly hosting, was also shelved.
“We are hoping to have an audience with our very own Senator Bong Go, Senate chair for Sports, and President Digong. In Davao, malapit si Mayor sa mga atletang may kapansanan. Since we won the historic five gold medals in the Asian Para Games, we were never given a chance to offer our medals to the Mayor,” Infiesto said, hoping that this time around, they could be given a chance to do so once quarantine protocols ease.
The National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) regional director also said the Philippines had a good chance of winning the prestigious chessfest since he is not the only Filipino playing.
National Master (NM) Jasper Rom and Panabo City’s arena grandmaster (AGM) Henry Roger Lopez, who also formed part of the Philippines’ historic five gold medal harvest in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, placed sixth and eighth, respectively, in the Ipca event.
Infiesto thanked the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently-Abled, Philippine Paralympic Committee, NCFP, Philippine Sports Commission, Israeli Chess Federation and Ipca.