PHOTOS - AT LEFT - FIRST MOVE: The Philippines' 14-year old grandmaster GM Wesley So (right) and GM Ehsan Ghaemmagami of Iran during the ceremonial first game in the 2nd Philippine Open International Chess Championship. Witnessing the event are tournament organizers, including National Chess Federation of the Philippines chairman Prospero Pichay (third from right), and SBMA deputy administration for tourism Raul Marcelo (fourth from right) Below - Filipino arbiter Edmundo Legaspi, who is from Olongapo City, makes a round of the tournament area during the opening of the 2nd Philippine Open International Chess Championship at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center]

SUBIC BAY, FREEPORT, MAY 9, 2008 (SBMA NEWS UPDATE) Seventy-one ranking chess players from around the world started the quest for cash and glory on Wednesday with the opening of the 2nd Philippine Open International Chess Championship and Chess Challenge at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) here.

The seven-day tournament was organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), in cooperation with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and supported by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation (FIDE).

“Chess is once again very popular in the Philippines. And I would like to thank the SBMA for supporting chess tournaments in the Philippines, and helping us help our neighboring nations,” said Prospero Pichay, who heads the NCFP, during the tournament launch.

He urged the players to “put their heart to help Asia capture chess supremacy in the world” by joining more tournaments like what their counterparts in Europe are doing.

Pichay also announced that no less than five international competitions will be held in the Philippines next year, including the 3rd Subic International Open Championship.

SBMA Deputy Administrator Raul Marcelo, meanwhile, welcomed the announcement and pledged the agency’s full support to the NCFP.

“We in the SBMA hope that this international open chess tournament could yield another Filipino grandmaster, or, at least, put him or her on the road to GM title,” Marcelo said.

He noted that chess is “definitely one sport in which Filipinos can truly excel,” as recently proven by 14-year old Wesley So, who is now the world’s youngest grandmaster and the seventh youngest in the history of chess.

Aside from So, who has an ELO rating of 2540, among the favorite competitors in the Subic event are GM Ehsan Ghaemmagami of Iran (ELO 2604); and GM Chao Li (ELO 2581) and GM Quang Liem Le (ELO 2568) of China.

Other countries participating in the Subic tournament are: Indonesia, with nine delegates, led by GM Susanto Megaranto (2561); Myanmar, led by GM Win Law Zaw (2574); Vietnam, with GM Anh Dung Nguyen (2512); and Malaysia, with IM Hafizulhelmi Mas ((2396).

A total of US$42,000 in cash prizes await winners from the first up to the 32nd place. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placers will receive $6,000, $5,000, and $4,000, respectively. - more - The tournament will be played in 11 rounds using the Swiss system, and FIDE laws of chess shall apply, organizers said.

The arbitration panel this year is composed of IA Castro Abundo, who serves as the chief arbiter; and his deputies IA Elias Lao and FA Edmundo Legaspi. FIDE secretary-general Ignatius Leong is also on hand to witness the games. (30)

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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