Los Angeles, California — Never give up.
This was the battle cry of Rogelio Barcenilla, referring to his hunt for his third and final Grandmaster (GM) norm during a recent exclusive interview.
Fondly called Banjo in a chess circuit, the former stand-out of San Sebastian College (SSC) is eyeing to join the country’s elite GM circle which includes Eugene Torre, the late Rosendo Balinas, Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr., Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor, Nelson Mariano II, Mark Paragua, Wesley So, Darwin Laylo, Jayson Gonzales and John Paul Gomez.
“Hindi naman tayo sumusuko na makukuha na natin ang third at final GM norm. Pero gusto kong sumali sa round robin (close tournament) tournament kasi mas malaki chance na makuha natin d’un ang aking third GM norm,” said Barcenilla, a former Asian Junior Champion who is currently based in Arizona along his wife, former Olympian Woman National Master (WNM) Lilibeth Lee.
It shall be recalled that in June 2000, Barcenilla became the fourth Filipino GM when he obtained the third and final GM result in the Marshall Chess Club GM Invitational in New York.
In winning his last GM result, Barcenilla defeated the late Polish GM Alexander Wojkeiwicz, the 1998 Far East Bank GM Centennial Classic champion, and Russian GM Kher and drew with American GMs Gregory Serper and Alexander Stripunsky in the category 10 tournament.
FIDE rules require six of nine points for a player who must play at least three GMs in the tournament, rated as a Category 10 tournament.
However, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) didn’t confirm the GM title status of Barcenilla in the 2000 FIDE Congress in Istanbul, Turkey.
His GM title application came to a final standoff when votes were tied after all but one of the officials had cast their votes. The last official to vote, who will therefore break the tie and decide whether or not Barcenilla becomes a GM, happened to be a Filipino. But to everyone’s surprise, he voted to reject the application.
The reason was due to the fact that the supposed third GM norm of Barcenilla was a result of a tournament that he had won in the US, which used the Marshall system, a tournament format that was not included among that those cited in FIDE’s guidelines that could bestow GM norms.
Correspondent Marlon Bernardino
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