Join the Negros International Open in Bacolod

by Srinath Narayanan
10/2/2017 – Have you heard of the City of Smiles? When a crippling economic depression hits your region, how do you recover? Would you just cry for aid or would you start a tradition called the Masskara festival to rouse the masses? When GM Srinath Narayanan was invited to Bacolod to take part in the Negros International Open, he felt inspired by the spirit of the Negrenses and decided he had to pay this wonderful place a visit. Read on to find out more!

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Play chess in the city of smiles!

October 11-19 in Bacolod City, Philippines

Bacolod is a city on the northwest coast of Negros Island in the Philippines. Bacolod City is the top Philippine model city for 2017. It is known as the City of Smiles because of its MassKara Festival, a Mardi Gras-like festival and a spectacularly vivid mix of dance, color and music.

Bacolod cathedral by night | Photo: Wiki Commons

Talisay ruins are one of the noteworthy sites deserving a visit | Photo: Wiki Commons

The Negrenses attitude

The festival first began in 1980 during a period of crisis. The province relied on sugar cane as its primary agricultural crop, and the price of sugar was at an all-time low due to the introduction of sugar substitutes like high fructose (corn syrup) in the United States. This was the first Masskara Festival and a time of tragedy; on April 22 of that year, the inter-island vessel MV Don Juan carrying many Negrenses, including those belonging to prominent families in Bacolod City, collided with the tanker Tacloban City and sank. An estimated 700 lives were lost in the tragedy.

In the midst of these tragic events, the city's artists, local government and civic groups decided to hold a festival of smiles, because the city at that time was also known as the City of Smiles. They reasoned that a festival was also a good opportunity to pull the residents out of the pervasive gloomy atmosphere brought by the Don Juan Tragedy. The initial festival was therefore, a declaration by the people of the city that no matter how tough and bad the times were, Bacolod City is going to pull through, survive, and in the end, triumph. (source:Wikipedia)

MassKara Festival in Bacolod City | Photo: Wiki Commons

Bacolod Chess

Chess became very popular in the Philippines (and the world) way back in the early 70’s primarily as a result of the Fischer mania. Most Filipino youngsters were caught with the charisma and genius displayed by Bobby Fischer.  The Philippines held lots of local and international chess tournaments and the 70’s can be touted as the golden era of Philippine chess. The government and private institutions sponsored countless chess events and even produced several world-class players.

In the early 80’s, Bacolod chess dwindled mainly because of the economic crisis Negros had experienced. Most of the talented chess players were forced by economic and academic circumstances to move away from Bacolod and make a name for themselves in the USA and Manila.

Negros International Open Chess Championship

Having come through the depression in the 80’s successfully, it was time to revive the chess in Bacolod City to the heights it once enjoyed. With this vision, four years ago, Antonio Ivan S. Aguirre starting supporting the Bacolod Chess Club.

The tournament is taking place thanks to the generous patronage of people such as Tony Aguirre and Hugo Villanueva | Photo: Tony Aguirre

He dreams of making Bacolod chess club the bedrock and training ground for their future chess masters. Negros International Chess Championship is an important stepping stone towards achieving that goal.

The tournament will be a 9 round swiss open, played at 90 minutes for the whole game plus 30 second increment. Only one round will be played on 7 days, except on October 16, when it’ll be two rounds a day. However, this’ll be compensated by a rest day on October 15, which gives a chance to tour around.

Among the confirmed entries is Nigel Short | Photo: Alina L'Ami

The fourth seed at the moment is GM Nguyen Duc Hoa | Photo: Amruta Mokal

So far 45 players have confirmed their entries, out of which 25 of them are titled. This makes it a ripe ground for norm hunters. There’s still time for the titled players as well, as attractive conditions await them. Those interested may check out the website or contact the organizers. So, welcome to the city of smiles!



Srinath Narayanan is a 23-year-old Indian Grandmaster. A former World Under 12 champion, at the age of fourteen he became an IM and had shown surprising and unswerving loyalty to the title ever since, until March 2017, when he crossed the 2500 mark and completed the requirements to become a grandmaster. He loves chess and likes to play in tournaments all around the globe. He is a critical thinker and enjoys to think deeply not only about chess but life itself. In 2017, he co-founded ChessMine with the mission to make chess a financially powerful sport.
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SULAYI_LANG SULAYI_LANG 10/6/2017 10:33
Wesley may be invited as 'guest of honor' and should not play such event. Since a lowly rated open tournament like this, even a single draw will greatly affect his struggling effort in retaining in the top 2 spots that will give him a privilege spot to play in the candidates tournament.
jonlaine jonlaine 10/6/2017 08:02
Bacolod City is the best place to go for the "dream event"...
Bacolod 2018: Pres. R.R Duterte vs. Wesley So
Manila 1973: Pres. F.E Marcos vs. Bobby Fischer
tony aguirre tony aguirre 10/3/2017 11:42
ex0 2: Negros Island is a beautiful place to play chess. Filled with beautiful white sand beach, flowing coconut drinks and most of all its capital city, Bacolod is known as the City of Smiles. Hope you can visit this part of the world.
ex0 ex0 10/3/2017 09:21
Thought it was tournament for racists. lol
tony aguirre tony aguirre 10/3/2017 08:46
The mother of super GM Wesley So came from the province of Negros. This can indeed be a future bedrock of chess in this part of the world!!
tony aguirre tony aguirre 10/3/2017 08:44
Great article GM Srinath Narayanan. I hope the global chess community would be able to watch the games online and there will be a live broadcast of the tourney. For the love of chess!!!
WinXP2002 WinXP2002 10/3/2017 12:39
Trivia: Wesley So's birth mother went to college in Bacolod City. Not sure if she was born there as well.
WinXP2002 WinXP2002 10/3/2017 12:37
My hometown - I wish I could be there.
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