Severino, IPCA near Division 2 slot in Chess Olympiad

Filipino FIDE Master Sander Severino took a break, but it did not stop the International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) selection from sweeping their next 3 matches and grabbing the lead in Pool B of the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad on Saturday, August 8.

With International Master (IM) Andrei Gurbanov subbing for Severino on the top board, IPCA nipped erstwhile leader Portugal, 3.5-2.5, in Round 4, subdued Botswana, 4.5-1.5, in Round 5, and trounced Chinese Taipei, 4-2, in Round 6.

The victories padded IPCA's total to 11 points out of a perfect 12, a win ahead of 9-pointers Sri Lanka and Portugal.

IPCA also paced the 10-team field in game points with 25, towing Sri Lanka (24) and eight-pointer Tajikistan (24).

Following back-to-back losses by Gurbanov against Botswana and Chinese Taipei, Severino – the reigning world champion for the physically challenged – will play board 1 anew for IPCA when it bids to advance to Division 2.

Blocking IPCA's way to 1 of 3 slots allotted for Pool B on August 9 are Sri Lanka in Round 7, Nigeria in Round 8, and Tajikistan in Round 9.

The other leaders are Singapore (10 points), Albania (10), and Malaysia (8) in Pool A, Belgium (11 points), Jordan (8), and Thailand (7) in Pool C, Bolivia (12 points), Chile (10), and Venezuela (8) in Pool D, and Costa Rica (9 points), Mexico (9), and El Salvador (7) in Pool E.

The top 3 in each pool will jump to Division 2, where they will join 30 seeded teams, including the Philippines. Again, the 50 teams will be divided into 5 groups with competition set to start on Wednesday, August 12.

Seeded 39th among a total of 163 nations, Team Philippines is composed of Grandmasters (GM) Mark Paragua, Rogelio Barcenilla, Darwin Laylo, and Rogelio Antonio, IM Daniel Quizon, Michael Concio, Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna, Woman IMs Jan Jodilyn Froda, Catherine Secopito, Bernadette Galas and Kylen Joy Mordido, and Jerlyn San Diego.

GM Eugene Torre will serve as national coach for Team Philippines, which is bracketed in Group C with the Netherlands, England, Croatia, Slovakia, Bangladesh, and Turkmenistan, plus 3 qualifiers from Division 3. –