HO CHI
MINH CITY, Jan. 3 (PNA) -– Buoyed by its success in the previous year,
the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), headed by
president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, welcomes the new year by
sending 13 of its top players in the 2011 HD Bank Cup Open chess
championship scheduled January 4 to 9 at the five-star Rex Hotel here.

Newly-installed
GM Roland Salvador and Dresden Olympiad sensation GM John Paul Gomez
will lead the Filipinos’ campaign in the tough, six-day competition
which attracted 74 players from nine countries.

Salvador,
who earned his GM title by winning the title in the 11th Fermo-Porto
San Giorgio in Italy last year, is seeded seventh in the 74-player
tournament with an ELO of 2533.

Gomez,
who rose to prominence during the 38th World Chess Olympia din Dresden,
Germany in 2008, is seeded eighth with an ELO of 2527.

Newly-crowned ASEAN chess co-champion IM Oliver Barbosa is also competing.

Barbosa
finished in a two-way tie for first place with GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili
in the ASEAN championships held December 26 to 30 in Singapore.

“This
is another good opportunity for our players to display their wares in
the first month of the year,” said Pichay. “And like last year, I expect
them to perform well and bring honors to the country.”

Pichay
said the Italy-based Salvador, who paid a courtesy call on his office
at the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) last month, will be
one of the players to watch in the nine-round competition which offers
US$ 6,000 top prize.

“After
earning his GM title during the FIDE Congress in Khanty-Mansiyak,
Russia late last year, Salvador will now get the chance to showcase his
talents against some of the best players in Asia,” added Pichay.

Aside
from Salvador, Gomez and Barbosa, the other Filipino players seeing
action are GM Darwin Laylo,IM Richard Bitoon, IM Oliver Dimakiling, NM
Emmanuel Senador, IM Kim Steven Yap, FM Haridas Pascua, NM Reggie Edgar
Olay, Christopher Castellano, Rodolfo Panopio and Merben Roque.

Host
Vietnam is fielding 37 players, led by top seed GM Le Quang Liem (ELO
2664) and second seed GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (ELO 2628).

China is sending 15 players, including third seed GMs Yu Yang yi (ELO 2607), Zhao Jun (ELO 2599), and Zhao Weiqi (ELO 2573).

Singapore
will e represented by IM Wei Ming Goh (ELO 2404), while Indoensia will
be represented by WGM Irine Kharisma Sukandar (ELO 2382). Ukraine
will field IM Mikhail Vasilyev (ELO 2400).

At stake in the tournament sponsored byy HD Bank are US$ 25,000, with the champion pocketing the lion’s share of US$ 6,000.

The runner-up and the third placer will receive
US$ 4,000 and US$ 3,000.

The fourth up to the 20th placers will get consolation cash prizes.

The opening ceremony and the first round are scheduled on Tuesday, Jan. 4. (PNA)
DCT/LOR/PR