Sunday, August 9, 2009

A lunch with a Grandmaster

Last week, after the simul matches conducted by GM Rogelio "Joey" Antonio at MERALCO basement canteen, our good friend, Rolly Sol Cruz, president of one of the most stable chess club in the country, the MERALCO Chess Club, had all the goodness to ask this blogger, to join a lunch with GM Joey Antonio. For a moment, I hesitated. Actually, that was only the five or six times I saw GM Antonio in person, but I never talked to him personally. And for nearly half an hour, knowing that it might not happen again anytime soon, I felt compelled to bombard him with questions. And I got more than what I expected. Some need to be publish and be heard, and some need to keep in private. But one particular moment I would never forget was when Rolly Cruz mentioned about the column wrote by Mr Bobby Ang (Don't confused him to Bob Ong as I sometimes do) for businessworldonline titled What Now GM Antonio? (if my memory serves me correctly about the correct title) In the said article, Mr Ang is very vocal in his criticism against Antonio's US campaign last year where he won dozens of them. Bobby Ang dismisses the tourney he participated as mediocre in comparison with other Filipino chess players competing at that time and that Antonio does not deserves all the praises he's receiving. After Rolly Cruz brief statement about Bobby Angs column, Antonio, for about half a second, looked at everybody's eyes then lower them directly into his plate and mumble something under his breath, but never elaborate. My ear didn't catch what he said. But it was obvious. Rolly may have noticed this and so the topic ended there.

Over all, it's too early for me to judge the character and personality of GM Antonio. I don't know what is his personal relationship with other chess players as well and I might be branded of being bias on his side just because of the privilege of having spoken to him for the first time. But he seems very accommodating with the chess fans, that's all I can say. During the course of conversation, here's some of GM Rogelio Antonio's thoughts I would like to share with everyone:

  • Planning to stage, together with our top GMs, the first ever "pay per-view" tournament, probably later this year, where fans can watch GMs in action, live.
  • Wesley So will be among the top ten players in the world in the near future. He has no doubt about it. He even admitted that it is Wesley who is responsible alone for the revival of chess in the country.
  • Popularity of chess in the Philippines is reaching an all time high.
  • Prefer blindfold chess over simul games. He did an exhibition blindfold chess in the past.
  • Want to try another blindfold exhibition matches next! (Want to take on him anyone?)

One thing I forgot to ask him. Is NCFP really dead serious in its intention to bid the hosting of the chess olympiad in the country for the second time?

My deep appreciation also to Mr. Norlito Bersamina, father of ASEAN U-11 Gold Medalist, Paulo Bersamina, for the free meals and drinks he provided us! Thank you sir.

Malibay Chess Club blog has some details and photos from last week fund raising simul.

1 comment:

rjsolcruz said...

I was not referring to that "what now" article of Prof Bobby. The article I was referring to was their Las Vegas 2001 World Ch tour where Prof Bobby wrote about 'the chess player from the Philippines".

BTW, I am coming up with a smaller event, simul with an NM, on the last week of Aug, either an after office hour weekday or on the last Sat, You and your friend from Tanay are welcome to play and the fee is only P100 per board. I will keep you posted.

God bless.