Sending young Fide Master Sander Severino and local champion POI Ernie Abanco to the Bangkok Invitational Chess Open set April 13-19 is the start of giving international exposure to chess players from Negros Occidental, chess patron Tony Aguirre said yesterday.
In a press conference, Aguirre said Negrense players have the talent but they lack the needed exposure in the international arena.
Severino and Abanco’s participation in the Bangkok tournament, he said, is just a start as he is eyeing more international competitions for them, probably in Europe and in the US in the coming years.
Both Severino and Abanco are professional chess players and winners of the series of tournaments bankrolled by Aguirre and his partners that culminated in the 1st Negros Closed Individual Chess Championship in December last year.
While hoping for a good finish for both Negrense players in Bangkok, Aguirre said that, for the two to land in the top 20 would already be a success.
Also giving support to Severino and Abanco’s participation in the tournament is the First Community Bank, Inc. owned by the Villanueva family.
Like Aguirre, banker Lawrence Villanueva said chess is their family’s passion as he and his brother, Hugo Villanueva, do not only play the game but are committed to extend assistance to its development in Negros.
Villanueva believes that there are good players in Negros who can excel in the sport if given the necessary support.
“We wish the team good luck and hope they will make all of us proud,” Villanueva said.
Expecting a tough task ahead of them, both Severino and Abanco said they have been preparing for it by doing online researches and studies, reading books of chess patterns and playing against each other.
The two Negrenses will be accompanied by their team manager Marvin Ting. The tournament in Bangkok offers a cash prize of about P150,000 for the champion, Aguirre said.*NAB
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