GMs Nigel Short, Hou Yifan to join next Negros Open?

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FOLLOWING the successful staging of the recent 1st Negros Open Chess Tournament, sponsor Tony Aguirre, said that they are planning to elevate the event to THE international level in accordance with the FIDE standards.

“We have a year to plan it out and bring in foreign Grand Masters (GM), increase the cash pot, use live broadcast of the games in the internet, get additional sponsors and make this tournament attractive to the national chess community,” he said.

“I’m looking at inviting England GM Nigel Short and Chinese Women’s GM Hou Yifan. I’m just checking their respective schedules. Hopefully we can meet them and discuss the tournament,” Aguirre added.

The 51-year old Short is currently the oldest player ranked among the FIDE’s top 100 players at No.77. He earned his GM title at the age of 19 and was ranked third in the world by FIDE from January 1988 to July 1989. He was also the first English player to qualify in the World Chess Championship match in 1993 and played the known Garry Kasparov.

Short was also a 2-time Bangkok Open champion in 2012 and 2015 – which tournament Filipino GM Rogelio ‘Joey’ Antonio Jr. also dominated thrice in 2003, 2004 and 2006 but, finished only 6th place during the Negros Open Chess Tournament behind local prides FM Sander Severino of Silay City and Bacolod City’s Ellan Asuela.

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Yifan is the current Women’s World Chess Champion, the youngest ever to win the title as well as the youngest female player ever to qualify for the title of Grandmaster.

In 2012 Bangkok Open, Yifan was drawn by Severino at the closure of the tournament to finish at tied at top 15.

On his part, Severino said that his fourth place finish was beyond expectation. “I never expected to finish in the top 5. I was just looking to end at top 10 given the strong line-up of GMs and International Masters in the tournament,” he said. “With the result, I can say that I can compete with them. Now, I’m inspired and excited for the next tournament.”

Severino is also thankful to tournament sponsors Aguirre and Hugo Villanueva for organizing such tough competition in Bacolod. “We don’t need to travel to Manila to compete in such level,” he added.*

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