Pinoy woodpushers stand up to COVID-19 threat, take battle online

MANILA, Philippines – Sports is literally at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic except for one — chess.

While the rest of the world is completely paralyzed by the deadly outbreak, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines is trying to fight it by holding its first Philippine Bullet Chess Championship via online application lichess starting Saturday.

No less than Grandmasters Joey Antonio and Banjo Barcenilla will lead the way in the first of the 10 qualifying legs that will be held to determine the top 16 Grand Finalists who will battle to become the country’s bullet king.

Games start at 1 p.m. with each participants playing two games in 11 rounds using a time control of two minutes plus a one-second increment with the top 10 advancing to the finals of this event staking a total purse worth P220,000 courtesy of NCFP president and chairman Butch Pichay.

“COVID-19 cannot defeat chess,” said NCFP executive director Cliburn Orbe. “Our chess will continue despite the COVID crisis. We will show the world that chess is above all other sports because it can also be an e-sport played online.”

Also expected to join are some of the country’s top chessers, including International Master Daniel Quizon, IM Paulo Bersamina, IM Chito Garma, FIDE Master Arden Reyes, Asian Para Games gold medalist Henry Lopez, Roland Joseph Perez, FM Nelson Mariano III and Elwin Retanal among others.