Chess and Manny Pacquiao

Midas Hotel and Casino
May 20, 2013
Chess and Manny Pacquiao

It’s been a long time since I covered a chess event this big. I was referring to the Asian Contental Chess Championships being done at the Midas Hotel and Casino in Pasay City. It gathers the best woodpushers in the region. I mean the best, really. Imagine 26 Grandmasters from all over Asia have descended upon us. Five of them are super GMs–Le Quang Liem (2714) and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (2631) of Vietnam, Li Chao (2686) of China, and Krishnan Sasikiran (2669) and Parimarjan Negi (2651) of India. If not for a previous committment abroad, GM Wesley So, the country’s top chesser, would have been here to represent the country.
You can also call it the Manny Pacquiao Cup. As the name says, this is a tournament Pacquiao, our champion, is bankrolling. All $100,000 in prizes came straight from Pacman’s pockets. Imagine if this becomes a regular thing and he pours money into it? We may see the world’s best here. Magnus Carlsen or Viswanathan Anand perhaps?
The reason I’m writing this was when Sportsmaryosep had a chance to do an ambush interview on Pacquaio, who has won his second term as Sarangani Congressman. You see, organizers headed by Eugene Torre, Asia’s first GM, chess fans and even our friends from the media have been waiting for Pacquiao to grace the event with his presence. He never came on the first two days.
On the early evening of the third, the surprise of surprises pleasantly greeted everyone–Pacquiao has arrived finally.
During his visit, Pacquiao watched some games, both from the men’s and women’s divisions, chatted with Torre and FIDE representative Toti Abundo, took photos and signed signatures for fans and played Torre in a chess game. That game ended in a 21-move draw.
Going into our short but meaningful chat, Pacquiao said he played chess even before he took up boxing and plans to support it long term. He added sports is part of his platform being an athlete himself. He never really answered questions about his next fight against Mexican-American Brandon Rios this November in Macau, China. I’m sure, he’s still cherishing his well-deserved vacation. So I’m giving him that.
But hey, at least we got this rare chance of meeting and talking to Pacquiao.

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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