ANTONIO,  MARIANO  TO  BOYCOTT  CHESS FINALS?

MANILA,  September 13, 2004  (STAR) By Dante Navarro - Slighted over the decision to seed Mark Paragua to the Olympiad-bound national team, grandmasters Joey Antonio and Nelson Mariano II yesterday threatened to boycott the National Chess Championships slated this weekend in Tagaytay.

"I have nothing against Mark but if they want him to be seeded they should have basis for doing so," said Antonio. "I know that they want to put up a strong team, but I believe there are more deserving players than Mark."

In a resolution issued Friday, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) guaranteed Paragua a spot in the menís team competing in next monthís Chess Olympiad in Majorca, Spain.

The 20-year-old Paragua, just a norm shy of a dream GM title bid, is currently chasing his third and final GM result in the second Alushta Grandmaster Tournaments in Ukraine and will not be able to compete in the national finals set Sept. 18-29 which serves as the Olympiad qualifier.

Mariano, the best Filipino performer in Bled where he scored three wins and three draws on his first Olympiad stint, also decried the decision to give Paragua an automatic berth in the Olympiad squad, saying it smacks of favoritism and is unfair to the other players.

"Itís very unfair. I have nothing against Mark but the system is wrong since this will only create a division among players," said Mariano. "They are depriving the rights and chance of the other players because those with no international exposure depend only on the national championships to be able to get into the RP team."

Should Antonio and Mariano decide against playing in the national championships, the RP team would be without two talented players who could hold their own against the super GMs in the Olympiad.

Make it three as GM Bong Villamayor remains a doubtful starter in the national finals, owing to his coaching contract in Singapore where he is based.

Antonio also questioned the wisdom in giving Paragua a special treatment and then let the GMs like him go into a gruelling qualifier where they could be ambushed by the lesser-rated but equally talented players.

The NCFP gave so much consideration to Paraguaís 2554 ELO rating, the highest among the crop, leaving five slots to be contested among 17 finalists.

It was former NCFP president and now chairman of the board Mat Defensor who broached the idea of seeding Paragua to the team to the nine board members present in the quorum held at the Sulu Hotel over the weekend. It was seconded by new NCFP president Go Teng Kok.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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