By Jean Malanum

CHESS. Mark Jay Daños Bacojo (center) holding a trophy during one of his tournaments last year. Also in photo are FIDE Arbiter Jay Pattugalan (left) and International Arbiter Reden Cruz. (Contributed photo) 

MANILA – The quest for an International Master (IM) title continues for Mark Jay “MJ” Daños Bacojo as he gets ready for the 3rd AQ Prime FIDE Standard Chess Open scheduled from Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 4-5 at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay in Parañaque City.

Currently a FIDE Master, the 17-year-old has earned one of the three IM norms at the 18th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysian Open Chess Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last September.

“We all know how difficult it is to become an IM. But with the support of my family and sponsors like Dasmariñas Mayor Jenny Barzaga, Rep. Elpidio ‘Pidi’ Barzaga Jr. and national coach, FIDE Master Roel Abelgas, I can reach my dream,” said Bacojo, who needs to raise his 2335 Elo rating points to 2400 to become an IM.

Last July, the Grade 12 student from Dasmariñas Integrated High School made an impressive performance at the Palarong Pambansa hosted by Marikina City.

Representing Region 4-A, Bacojo pocketed four gold medals coming from the individual and team (with Rigil Kent Rosell Pahamtang) events in the Standard and Blitz categories.

The AQ Prime FIDE Open features the country’s top players – IM Daniel Quizon, IM Rolando Nolte, IM Paulo Bersamina, IM Barlo Nadera, WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego, FM Noel Dela Cruz, NM Kim Kenneth Santos, Sherwin Tiu and Kevin Mirano.

AQ Prime Entertainment CEO, lawyer Aldwin Alegre said the nine-round Swiss System format will be used in the competition offering PHP50,000 plus trophy to the champion, PHP30,000 plus medal to the second runner-up, and PHP20,000 plus medal to the third runner-up.

Cash prizes worth PHP15,000, PHP12,000, PHP10,000, PHP8,000, PHP7,000, PHP6,000 and PHP5,000 will be given to the fourth to 10th placers while the 11th to 20th placers will get PHP2,000.

Special awards will also be handed to the Top Lady, Top 1800 and below, Top Non Master, Top 12 years old and below, Top 13-15 years old, Top 16-18 years old, Top Foreign Player, Top PWD, Top 55 years old above, Top College Player and Top Media Player.

After the AQ Prime tournament, Bacojo will join the FIDE World Youth Chess Championships scheduled from November 12 to 25 in Montesilvano, Italy.

Last year, he finished second at the Hong Kong Bauhinia U-18 Invitational Chess Championships. (PNA)