Philippine para-chessers eye big moves in 11th ASEAN Para Games

SURAKARTA, Indonesia — Filipino para-chessers are keen on surpassing their performances in the 2017 10th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when the chess competition begins on Sunday at the Lor-in Hotel.

“Definitely, we want to surpass what our athletes did in Malaysia five years ago,” said national head coach James Infiesto on Thursday, referring to the four golds, three silvers, and six bronze medals the country won on the way to placing third overall in the regional sports showpiece in the Malaysian capital.

Mr. Infiesto revealed that the Indonesian hosts have added 12 more events, boosting to 36 golds that will be up for grabs in the sport of the 11th ASEAN Para Games.

“This is why we tried to fill up all of the categories with players since there will be 12 more golds available in this competition,” he noted of the trip supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

Anchoring the squad are the powerhouse trio of FIDE Master Sander Severino, Jasper Rom, and Henry Roger Lopez, who swept the men’s team standard and rapid events in the 2018 Asian Para Games held in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. Highlighting that sterling display was the 1-2-3 finish of Messrs. Severino, Lopez, and Rom in the men’s individual rapid event.

“We completed a grand slam of gold, silver, and bronze in the individual rapid event so this is why Indonesia is really preparing hard to get back at us,” Mr. Infiesto said, adding that he has players who could pull up some surprises once the chess competition gets underway.

“Unlike in the Asian Para Games where we dominated two events, we are aiming to be dominant in others as well,” said the coach, who declined to name the chessers he was expecting to deliver in the other events.

While the team buildup was held online at the start, Mr. Infiesto said they began their bubble face-to-face training funded by the PSC in early July at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City.

The other members of the men’s squad are Felix Aguillera, Anthony Abogado, Cecilio Bilog, Francis Ching, Darry Bernardo, Israel Peligro, Menando Redor, Rodolfo Sarmiento and Arman Subaste.

The women’s squad is composed of Cheryl Angot, Maria Teresa Bilog, Charmaine Tonic, Cheyzer Crystal Mendoza, Evangeline Gamao, Corazon Lucero, Ma. Katrina Mangawang, Fe Mangayayam, Jean-Lee Nacita and Elena Peligro.