MANILA, Philippines – Grandmaster Rogelio "Joey" Antonio won't let GM John Paul Gomez down.
Inserted into the qualifiers because Gomez relinquished his slot for him, Antonio summoned his iron will to climb out of a pit and clinch the last spot in the Philippine team to the inaugural FIDE Online Olympiad on Sunday, July 12.
At 5th place with 2.0 points after the first phase of the six-player double round-robin qualifier on Saturday, Antonio tallied 3.0 points on 4 draws and 1 win to catch International Master Paolo Bersamina, who drew all his matches at 5.0 points.
Antonio then bested Bersamina in a gripping blitz playoffs. Bersamina won the first five-minute, five-second increment game but blundered away the second to necessitate another two-game duel at 3 minutes with 2 seconds increment.
The 58-year-old Antonio took the first game and forced Bersamina to run out of time in the second to make the Olympics for the 11th time, 10 by way of the regular biennial Olympiad.
Arizona-based GM Rogelio Barcenilla Jr also posted 3.0 points and emerged top qualifier with 6, duplicating his feat in the 42nd Chess Olympiad qualifier late last year.
New York-based GM Mark Paragua, the first phase leader with 3.5 points, and GM Darwin Laylo took the second and third spots with 5.5 each.
Living up to hype, IM Daniel Quizon topped the boys' junior qualifying with 5.5 points, a full point up on IM-elect Michael Concio Jr, who will serve as his backup.
Woman Fide Master-elect Jerlyn Mae San Diego was the runaway girls' junior qualifier with 5.5 points and will be the backup of WIM Kylen Dela Serna Mordido.
WGM Janelle Mae Frayna heads the women players also composed of WIMs Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Catherine Perena Secopito and Bernadette Galas.
"Thanks to all who prayed when I entered," Antonio said in a Facebook post. "Thank you Lord for the strength and intelligence you gave me. Most of all GM John Paul Gomez. Congressman Butch Pichay, Atty. Cliburn Anthony Orbe. Long live to all of you. IM Jem Garcia thank you for the broadcast."
Pichay is the president and chairman of the organizing National Chess Federation of the Philippines with Orbe as executive director. – Rappler.com