THIS year’s Palau national chess championship takes place at two alternating venues—D. J. Cruz General Merchandise and Palau Royal Resort—both in Koror city starting on Sunday, 30 August, according to Tia Belau’s chess columnist Roberto Hernandez.
The closed championship will see in action four of Palau’s six internationally rated players, namely Menandro Manuel (1942), Cyril Montel Jr (1870), Gene Pastrana (1870), and Roberto Hernandez (1830). Palau’s two other rated players, Jose Omega (1870) and Manny Nedic (1830), had left the country for good one after the other.
Palau’s top four: Menandro Manuel, Cyril Montel Jr, Gene Pastrana, and Roberto Hernandez.
The country’s top player for the past four years, Manuel remains the heavy favorite to win the title. It may be recalled that he tied for fourth-fifth places, the highest among local entries, in the first international chess tournament held in Palau in 2006 that was won by New Zealand’s Hilton Bennett.
Meanwhile the next Palau international is planned for next year where Papua New Guinea champion Joselito Marcos (2200), a newfound correspondent of Hernandez, and Australian-Filipino chess prodigy Daniel Joseph Lapitan are among the invited rated foreign participants.
Pastrana continues to be a formidable contender together with Montel who now intends to incorporate silicon assistance in his preparation. Each of them is expected to give a good account of his self and offer defending titlist Manuel a run for his chess money.
The ever active Hernandez, who organizes the event with venue host Pastrana in addition to writing his weekly column Chessmate, is the tournament’s dark horse. His recent participation as Palau representative to the 2009 Oceania zonal championship held in Queensland, Australia would undoubtedly boost his chess stocks and confidence.
A musician by profession, Hernandez works at Palau Royal Resort, a five-star international resort hotel developed and owned by Royal Hotel Group and operated by Nikko Hotels International, which opened in June 2005. He has been a working resident in the country for the past 17 years.
Palau Royal Resort
The inclusion of three Bangladesh nationals—Masum Billah, Hasan Mamud and second timer Mohammad Manik—would add fuel to the excitement generated by this year’s championship which, Hernandez averred, shall be rated by the World Chess Federation known by its acronym FIDE. Palauans Tutii Joe Chilton, Francis `Sno' Temaungil and Morton Sawaichi lead the cast of local contestants who are out to obtain international ratings.
In the meantime, the election of new officers of Palau Chess Federation is planned to coincide with the opening of the championship. Current chairman Temaungil shall be persuaded to serve for another term at the top post.
Palau Chess Federation was admitted as a member of FIDE in 2005 and registered under the Oceania zone comprising of member countries in the South Pacific, namely Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (the zone’s most recent member).
Brief facts about Palau
Palau's new capitol
Palau, officially the Republic of Palau (Palauan: Beluu er a Belau), is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Tokyo. It comprised of 16 states, including the states of Hatohobei and Sonsorol located some 250 miles southwest of Koror. Having emerged from United Nations trusteeship (administered by the United States) in 1994, it is one of the world's youngest and smallest sovereign states. In English, the name is sometimes spelled Belau in accordance with the native pronunciation. It was formerly also spelled Pelew.
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