Play chess in the city of smiles!

Join the Negros International Open in Bacolod

October 11-19 in Bacolod City, Philippines

Bacolod is a city on the northwest coast of Negros Island in the Philippines. Bacolod City is the top Philippine model city for 2017. It is known as the City of Smiles because of its MassKara Festival, a Mardi Gras-like festival and a spectacularly vivid mix of dance, color and music.

Talisay ruins are one of the noteworthy sites deserving a visit | Photo: Wiki Commons

The Negrenses attitude

The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. The province relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop, and the price of sugar was at an all-time low due to the introduction of sugar substitutes like high fructose (corn syrup) in the United States. This was the first Masskara Festival and a time of tragedy; on April 22 of that year, the inter-island vessel MV Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod City, collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sank. An estimated 700 lives were lost in the tragedy.

Bacolod cathedral by night | Photo: Wiki Commons

In the midst of these tragic events, the city’s artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles. They reasoned that a festival was also a good opportunity to pull the residents out of the pervasive gloomy atmosphere brought by the Don Juan Tragedy. The initial festival was therefore, a declaration by the people of the city that no matter how tough and bad the times were, Bacolod City is going to pull through, survive, and in the end, triumph.

MassKara Festival in Bacolod City

Bacolod Chess

Chess became very popular in the Philippines (and the world) way back in the early 70’s primarily as a result of the Fischer mania. Most Filipino youngsters were caught with the charisma and genius displayed by Bobby Fischer. The Philippines held lots of local and international chess tournaments and the 70’s can be touted as the golden era of Philippine chess. The government and private institutions sponsored countless chess events and even produced several world-class players.

In the early 80’s, Bacolod chess dwindled mainly because of the economic crisis Negros had experienced. Most of the talented chess players were forced by economic and academic circumstances to move away from Bacolod and make a name for themselves in the USA and Manila.

Negros International Open Chess Championship

Having come through the depression in the 80’s successfully, it was time to revive the chess in Bacolod City to the heights it once enjoyed. With this vision, four years ago, Antonio Ivan S. Aguirre starting supporting the Bacolod Chess Club.

The tournament is taking place thanks to the generous patronage of people such as Tony Aguirre and Hugo Villanueva | Photo: Tony Aguirre

He dreams of making Bacolod chess club the bedrock and training ground for their future chess masters. Negros International Chess Championship is an important stepping stone towards achieving that goal.

The tournament will be a 9 round swiss open, played at 90 minutes for the whole game plus 30 second increment. Only one round will be played on 7 days, except on October 16, when it’ll be two rounds a day. However, this’ll be compensated by a rest day on October 15, which gives a chance to tour around.

Open Category Confirmed Players

GM Nigel Short from England – Fide Rating 2698
GM Karen Grigoryan from Armenia – Fide Rating 2586
GM Tuan Minh Tran from Vietnam – Fide Rating 2547
GM Srinath Narayanan from India – Fide Rating 2511
GM Duc Hua Nguyen from Vietnam – Fide Rating 2499
GM Rogelio Antonio Jr. – Fide Rating 2438
GM Darwin Laylo – Fide Rating 2421
IM Minh Thang Tran from Vietnam – Fide Rating 2352*
IM Oliver Dimakiling – Fide Rating 2435*
IM Haridas Pascua – Fide Rating 2438*

Click here for the complete list

So far 45 players have confirmed their entries, out of which 25 of them are titled. This makes it a ripe ground for norm hunters. There’s still time for the titled players as well, as attractive conditions await them. Those interested may check out the website or contact the organizers. So, welcome to the city of smiles!

The article was originally published on ChessBase.com.

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