By Charles Raymond A. Maxey

Friday, January 14, 2011

NATIONAL Master Reggie Olay is all set to compete in the 3rd Kidapawan Open Chess Championship, which fires off from February 12 to 13 at the Kidapawan Convention Center in Kidapawan City.

Olay, the top hometown bet, won the tournament’s initial staging in 2009, but had a dismal campaign last year after finishing in a tie for sixth to 15th places with his five points.

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This year, Olay will be among the early favorites to win with the possible absence of other chess top guns from Manila.

International Master Oliver Barbosa ruled the 2010 edition after amassing six points on five wins and two draws in seven rounds.

International Master Oliver Dimakiling of Davao City, meanwhile, is doubtful for the tournament as the date falls on the same week the Aeroflot Open will be staged in Moscow, Russia.

“It’s conflict,” said Dimakiling, who will be joined by Filipino grandmasters John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Roland Salvador in the tournament, which will be held February 7 to 18.

Even Barbosa’s participation in this year’s event is not definite as there were reports he will also play in the Aeroflot Open together with fellow IM Richard Bitoon and reigning junior titlist Paulo Bersamina.

The Kidapawan Chess Club is organizing the tournament for the third time and is backed by the City Government of Kidapawan headed by Mayor Dodong Gantuangco.

Aside from Davao and Kidapawan players, woodpushers from other cities and municipalities in Mindanao like Digos, Malita, Panabo, Cagayan de Oro, Koronadal and General Santos are also competing in the two-day event.

Olay, a registered nurse, is an IM candidate having collared his second IM norm in the 6th Prospero Pichay Cup International Chess Tournament last year.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 15, 2011.