HE DEFENDED Cagayan de Oro's turf in last year's season-ending Mayor Jaraula Cup at the City Tourism Hall.

Now, veteran NM Levi Mercado is up for another daunting task: to lead anew the local woodpushers' face-off with the region's best in the Misamis Oriental Chess Cup 2010.

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To be held on August 21-23 at the Vicente de Lara Park Capitol Compound of Cagayan de Oro City, the MisOr chessfest stakes juicy cash prizes in the Open category with the lion's share of P20,000 plus trophy going to the champion.

"The question on who among the locals that can put up a good fight against the visitors can be answered--Levi. Of course, he's not getting any younger, but the guy has the discipline and work ethics to remain in contention," said fellow national master Roly Tan.

With the youthful cast of Christian Arroyo, Jongjong Salcedo, Lennon Salgados, Antonio Chavez Jr., Alfredo Rapanot Jr. and Randolph Dalauta now devoting their time for a scholarship study in Manila, NM Tan said it will be up now for Mercado and the rest of the experienced homeground talents to take the challenge.

Foremost in the list are candidate masters Johnnel Balquin, Lyndon Lumancas, Jake Gonzales, Jokorn Maestrado, Lolong Coquilla, Bryan Jose, Silverio Abasolo, Jaime Frias, Mario Arroyo, Bong Vasquez and Paul Jardin, among others.

International Master Kim Yap, Eden Diano and Richard Natividad of Cebu, paralympics star Henry Lopez, NM Elwin Retanal and Jason Salubre of Davao are among the potent "outside force" deemed to give the locals a run for the top honors.

Second to 5th placers will go home P10,000, P7,000, P5,000 and P3,000 richers. Registration fee is P250.

The kiddies division (14 and below) will be held on September 7-9 at same venue, or just a day-off before the much-awaited return of the National Shell Youth Active Cagayan de Oro leg on September 11-12 at the fully air-conditioned City Tourism Hall.

The top-3 kiddies are out to receive P6,000, P3,000 and P2,000 plus trophies. Entry fee is P100.