The 6th Asian Individual Chess Championships was scheduled to start today in my beloved province of Cebu. But at the time of this post, there are no updates (apart from a now stale press release) on the NCFP's website and, as far as we can tell, there is not even an official site dedicated to the event.
I know, I know - complaining about newsletters and websites is becoming a bit of a staple for us.
All we have worth mentioning is the playing field or a portion thereof. Among the local grandmasters only Torre and Antonio have pitched up. This is contrary to the NCFP's somewhat optimistic press release late last month that, "The Philippines will be represented by its five GMs". Two of those gents, in fact, remain unmoved in their coaching gigs in Singapore and Mark Paragua, just back from a 2-month stint in the US, is yet to confirm if he's playing or not. This leaves the rest of the RP contingent to a group of international masters who will no doubt be aiming for norms. Wesley So, Dableo, Dimakiling and Darwin Laylo will spearhead their charge. With many strong foreigners in the field, these guys will have ample chances.
Note that IMs Dableo and Laylo were earlier this year involved in the so-called "game fixing" cotroversy. Dableo was suspended for 1 year while Laylo for six months. We can understand if Laylo's suspension is now expired, but Dableo? I've got nothing against him playing, but it's an odd move by the NCFP indeed. Has the national body quietly owned up to a terrible mistake? Worth mentioning is that both these international masters' ratings are still missing from the FIDE website.
Among the foreign entrants, the following is what we can gather from the newswires as confirmed. From China the top seeds are GMs Ni Hua, Zhang Pengxiang and Wang Hao. Iranian Ehsan Ghame Maghami will also be there as well as Indians GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Chanda Sandipan. Adianto will represent Indonesia plus another bunch of strong Chinese including Xu Jun, Zhou Jiangchao and Zhao Jun.
The Australian Chess Federation was invited to send a representative but I don't know if any player took the offer. We'll have to check in our mate Kevin Bonham.