GRANDMASTER Joey Antonio is all set for his defense of his Battle of the Grandmasters crown when the chess competition unfurls on Wednesday at the City Club Alphaland Makati Place.
Antonio, who owns a Fide rating of 2438, will battle against fellow GMs John Paul Gomez (2463), Rogelio Barcenilla (2457), and Darwin Laylo (2433).
Women's champion Janelle Mae Frayna, meanwhile, will not see action in the tournament, assuring of a new titleholder for this year.
Also missing the competition in the men's division are GMs Eugene Torre, Julio Sadorra, and Jayson Gonzales as the two as well as Frayna will represent the Philippines in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan later this month.
But the tournament will still have the rising stars of chess with International Masters Haridas Pascua, Paulo Bersamina, Chito Garma, and Ronald Bancod, and National Master John Marvin Miciano, the reigning junior champion of the country.
Women IMs Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Marie Antoinette San Diego, Catherine Secopito, Bernadette Galas, Mikee Charlene Suede, and Beverly Mendoza are entered in the tournament sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission and Alphaland Corporation.
National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Rep. Butch Pichay said the Battle of the Grandmasters is the main qualifier for the 2018 World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.
"We are bent on improving the 46th place and 64th place performance of the men's and women's Olympic teams in 2016. It is incumbent upon us to prepare earnestly and early," said Pichay.