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Concio, Bacojo, Cantela lead chess entries in GM Balinas youth tilt

MANILA, Philippines -- International Master Michael Concio Jr., FIDE Master Mark Jay Bacojo, and National Master Oscar Joseph Cantela seek glory as they spearhead a strong cast clashing in the Atty. GM Rosendo Carreon Balinas Jr. Open Youth Rapid Chess Tournament (18 below) unfurling on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at 10 am at Level 1 Digiworld, Robinsons Galleria, Ortigas Center, Quezon City.

The top seed, Concio, looms as the player to beat in the seven-round Swiss system rapid (10 minutes plus 5 seconds increment) tournament owing to his current FIDE rapid rating of 2354. Concio, a freshman student taking up Bachelor of Science in Information Systems (BSIS) at the Kolehiyo ng Lungsod ng Dasmariñas, earned his outright IM title plus GM norm after winning the Eastern Asia Juniors Chess Championships in 2019 in Tanauan City, Batangas. Last month, Concio, one of the top players of Dasmariñas Chess Academy under the guidance of Mayor Jenny Barzaga, Rep. Elpidio "Pidi" Barzaga Jr., and national coach FM Roel Abelgas, won the gold medal of the rapid event Eastern Asia Juniors and Girls Chess Championships at the Sabah Oriental Hotel in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. He also won a silver medal in the blitz competition. "I hope to do well in this prestigious event, Atty. GM Rosendo Carreon Balinas Jr. Open Youth Rapid Chess Tournament," said the 18-year-old Concio.

Bacojo, on the other hand, won the bronze medal of the blitz event World Youth Chess Championships in Montesilvano, Italy last November. The Grade 12 student from Dasmariñas Integrated High School also earned his second IM norm in the standard event of World Youth Chess Championships. Bacojo secured the first norm during the 18th IGB Dato' Arthur Tan Malaysian Open Chess Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last September. "There are many strong opponents. Hopefully, I will get lucky and become champion again," said Bacojo. Bacojo aims to raise his Elo standard rating of 2367 to 2400 this year for the IM title requirements.

Cantela, a Grade 10 student of Far Eastern University-Diliman, playing under the guidance of coach Grandmaster Jayson Gonzales, meanwhile won a silver award at the SMS Deen Merdeka Open Rapid Team Chess Championship 2023, which was held at Level 5 Cititel Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last August 25-26. "I practiced a lot for this tournament and hopefully I can truly show what I’m capable of. It’s time for the coveted title," said Cantela, a resident of Barangay San Juan Uno in General Trias City, Cavite.

Others vying in the event, sponsored by GM Balinas' family in close cooperation with Robinsons Galleria, AIM Mark John Centillo, Biyaherong Arbiter, Coach NM Gerald Ferriol, GMG, WNM Kathryn Ann Cruz-Hardegen, and Mam Jennifer Cruz, are NMs Al-Basher "Basty" Buto, Mar Aviel Carredo, Karlycris Clarito Jr., and WNMs Antonella Berthe Racasa, Lexie Grace Hernandez, Jersey Marticio, Daren Dela Cruz, and Bonjoure Fille Suyamin. Other notable woodpushers participating are AGM Robick Vohn Villa, AIM Cyrus Vladimir Francisco, AIM Gabriel Ryan Paradero, and AFM Rai Enzo Batara. Also competing are Chester Neil Reyes, Christian Mendoza, Clark Kaeron Kwan, Wenlan Temple, Del Emerson Dela Cruz, Wesley Jovan Magbanua, Jeremy Marticio, Ariel Santander, Novenik William Alisangco, Julie Gelua Jr., Alexis Jade Saballe, Christian Tolosa, Sumer Justine Oncita, Cedric Daniel Macato, Jerick Faeldonia, Jirah Floravie Cutiyog, Maureiin Lepaopao, and Charly Jhon Yamson.

The event, organized by Bayanihan Chess Club founding president NM Almario Marlon Quiroz Bernardino Jr. in cooperation with Chess Lovers and Kaizen Knights Chess Club, offers a total pot prize of P25,000 with the champion getting the lion's share of P5,000. “We do this to promote chess at the grassroots level and discover new sports talents,” said Bernardino, an online Arena Grandmaster and certified United States chess master. The tournament registration fee is P500. Send your payment to gcash number: 09613396015 (Jolina Icao). -Marlon Bernardino-

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Marlon Bernardino.

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