Barcenilla overcomes younger foes in online-only National Bullet chess tiff

MANILA, Philippines, March 25 ------ US-based veteran Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla showed he still got what it takes to win championships — even under faster time control formats — as he bested a slew of younger rivals to rule the opening leg of the first Philippine National Bullet Championship held online recently. Now 47, the former two-time Asian Junior titlist, drew with FIDE Master Sander Severino, a four-gold medal winner in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, in the 18th and final round to finish with 15 points.

He toppled a field that included International Master Daniel Quizon, the country’s blitz king, and UST standout Samson Lim, Jr., who wound up with 14 and 13.5 points, for second and third, respectively. Barcenilla racked up 14 victories and had two draws, including against fellow GM Joey Antonio in the fourth round.

Ironically, his two setbacks came at the hands of Quizon in the sixth round and Lim in the 16th. The victory was Barcenilla’s second in the last four months. He also topped the Battle of Grandmasters last November to clinch a spot in the national team seeing action in the World Chess Olympiad in Russia late this year.

The top 10 players in the inaugural PNBC, which offers a prize fund of more than P200,000, courtesy of National Chess Federation of the Philippines chief Butch Pichay, advanced to the semis, which will feature other Filipino titled players who were seeded outright and those who will qualify in the next nine legs. The top 16 in the semis will then slug it out in the grand finals.