Day 1 of this huge chess tourney attracted no less than 700 players and fans (my estimation) at Gateway Mall.
Biggest news of the day. I lost my cannon camera on a FX taxi. Genius! It's just a cheap and old one anyway :)
Here's a quick observation.
9:45 I arrived at the playing hall in Gateway Mall, Cubao Quezon City. The tourney was supposed to begin at 10:00 am. Immediately spotted GM Jayson Gonzalez, tournament director. He was all over the place. From time to time he was seen chatting to his varsity players from FEU (my alma mater), the UAAP grand slam team champion. They were all proudly wearing their gold and green uniform.
10:45 GM Eugene Torre arrived, one of the tournament organizers. He was sporting his trademark black leather shoes, pants and coats. From behind he looks more like a rocker than a chess player to me . Some Filipino IMs and NM were arriving one by one and starts to kibitz. I don't think they hardly understand each other. It's all confusion there. Pity. GMs So, Antonio and Gomez still nowhere to be found.
11:00 There was no sign that the tournament will begin anytime soon. Lots of players still filling up their registration form. I thought that I came too early, and I am. GMs Darwin Laylo and Mark Paragua also arrived. They were in separate groups. Learned that GM Joey Antonio was not participating.
11:10 Wesley So finally arrived, accompanied by his ever watchful father. Everybody took a moment to get a glimpse of their hero. William So, Wesley's dad received equal or even more attention with the seniors, media, organizers and politicians. Wesley approach GM Laylo, they shook hands and join Laylo's group in kibitzing. Some of our IMs and NMs starts to praise Wesley and even replay the position from one of his game at Aeroflot. Again confusion erupts. Pity. Boy, Wesley looks totally confused. He was knitting his eyebrows all the time. It was obvious that he doesn't know what on earth they were telling to him.
11:15 Wesley's dad was interviewed by ABS-CBN crew, then it was his celebrated son's turn next. Believed me, I was as close to Wesley as the interviewer but I never catch a single words from Wesley. He speak sooooo low make worse by the noise of the playing hall. All through out the interview, Wesley sits with his knees joint together and was toying with his shirt button.
12: 20 Learned that Congressman Mat Defensor was the last VIP's to arrived. But as soon as he arrived, the opening ceremony begins. The MC apologize for the delay on what she describe as "technical" difficulties. Funny. Witness one of the longest opening ceremony in any chess tournament. Couldn't blame why GM Laylo would let out a long yawn during intervals of the speeches. GM John Paul Gomez also arrived. The playing hall is all packed up with people now. Chess is back in the Philippines!
12:45 pm Time for launch . Spotted Laylo and Paragua lined up for KFC chickens. This may surprised you but Wesley and his dad opt for Burger King! Interesting. I'm a frustrated vegetarian but I just treat myself with a handful of vegetable and shrimp tempura and some rice.
1:30 The game starts. Wesley's opponent arrived 7 minutes late, and this is a rapid tournament. Everbody thought that the poor guy just simply lost his nerved. As expected, So destroyed his opponent. Except for Mark Paragua who lost his round 2 assignment, no major upsets in Day 1.
5:30 pm I consumed 6 bottles of distilled waters during the course of the tournament only to found out at the end of the day that the organizers provides free distilled water. Genius!
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