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!

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


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 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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register