MANILA, Philippines - Already mired with problems concerning Wesley So’s decision to coach the United States team instead, the Philippines suffered yet another devastating blow as its second board player Oliver Barbosa remained undecided on his stint with the PH team seeing action in the 41st Chess Olympiad set Aug. 1-15 in Tromso, Norway.
“I’m not yet sure,” the 27-year-old Barbosa yesterday told The STAR when asked if he’s suiting up for the Tromso-bound PH squad.
Barbosa, along with fellow Grandmaster and national team mainstay Mark Paragua, left the country in disgust to try their luck in the United States after their P30,000 monthly salary from the Phl Sports Commission was cut down to P8,000 for their failure to strike gold in last year’s Myanmar Southeast Asian Games.
Recently though, National Chess Federation of the Phl executive director and Phl non-playing captain GM Jayson Gonzales said they have informed the PSC of their decision to elevate Barbosa as a priority athlete who will be entitled to a monthly stipend of P40,000.
Barbosa though said it was pure talk.
“That is what they (NCFP) said they’ll do, to raise my monthly allowance to P40,000 a month. But as of the month of June, my allowance remained at the developmental and junior level,” he said.
Reports have it that the NCFP has allegedly given Barbosa until today to make his decision, otherwise he will be stripped of his slot in the team and possibly face sanctions from the PSC and Philippine Olympic Committee.
Without So and Barbosa, the squad will have to do with GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra, Eugene Torre and John Paul Gomez and newly minted International Master Paulo Bersamina, who will take over So’s slot.
Barbosa is a vital cog in the country’s campaign as he played the second board behind top board player So in the 40th Istanbul Olympiad two years ago and scored a solid seven points in 10 matches for an impressive performance rating of 2668.
Expected to take over from Barbosa should he decided to skip the event is either Janelle Mae Frayna or GM Darwin Laylo, who ended up fourth and fifth in the Battle of GMs last week.
So had already said with finality that he would not play for the Filipinos while reiterating he would coach the US team instead – a slap in the face of the NCFP and PSC which did not approve his bonus for winning the gold medal in the 2013 Universiade in Russia.
Meanwhile, Paragua trounced Americans Christopher Gu and FIDE Master Atulya Shetty to jump into a seven-man logjam at fourth spot with five points apiece, or just a point off solo leader GM Ilya Smirin of Israel with six points, after seven rounds of this nine-round 42nd Annual World Open in Arlington, Virginia.