THE Philippines' two-headed monster in online chess -- Grandmasters Mark Paragua and Joey Antonio -- will try to resemble their beast mode anew in the Fide Arena International Master (AIM) Rey Urbiztondo Thanksgiving and Anniversary Open Online Chess Tournament on Wednesday, August 26, via lichess.org.
But Paragua, Antonio and the equally-strong Filipino GM Darwin Laylo will be put to an acid test with the entry of at least four tough foreign rivals in one of the biggest online tourneys initiated by true-blue chess-loving Mindanaoans.
Notable in the list provided by tournament in-charge AGM Henry Lopez are Uzbekistan's No. 2 grandmaster (GM) Nodirbek Abdusattorov (2677), GM Vugar Rasulov of Azerbaijan (2656), international master (IM) Alexander Ulanov of Russia, and IM Lucas Liascovich of Argentina.
The Uzbekistan GM Abdusattorov, who won the Asian Juniors and 2012 Age Group World championships, was heralded as one of the youngest GMs in history at the age of 13.
"The cast had really blown us away. We did not expect to draw such a stellar field which is safe to say as star-studded internationally," said celebrant in Davao-based Metrobank executive Rey Urbiztondo.
All current Chess Olympiad team members, the New York-based GM Mark Paragua (2692), Asian Seniors champion GM Joey Antonio (2531) and GM Darwin Laylo, will be in the forefront for the Filipino battle against the foreign side in the company of Sander Severino, the newly-minted International Physically Disabled Chess Association (Ipca) World Online Chess Championship 2020 winner.
Both Paragua and Antonio are enjoying a remarkable streak in the year of pandemic with the former child prodigy delivering the best moves as Paragua nailed the international New York online in March, the US Curly King Shark in May and the Philippines' Battle of Grandmasters in June.
Around P20,000 in total cash prizes awaits the winners in the AIM Engr. Rey C. Urbiztondo Thanksgiving and Anniversary Open Chess Tournament which earlier listed International Master Ronald Dableo, Canada-based NM Zulfikar Sali from Zamboanga City, IM Angelo Young, Jakarta, Indonesia-based Asian Paragames gold medalist NM Jasper Rom and US National Master Eden Diano, both from Cebu City, and NM Gio Mejia, among the participants.