Monday, February 18, 2008

IM's Sadorra and Gomez participation in the '08 Aeroflot
Preparation is the key to victory
by Manny Benitez

We have done it again, sending our players to an important tournament without actually preparing them for it. I am referring to the Aeroflot Open in Moscow, which is said to be one of the toughest in the world because of its very attractive prizes and the fact that it is being held in the heartland of the strongest chess-playing nation where players start training at a tender age.

First it was announced that two of our strongest players were going there, GM Mark Paragua, who fared very well in the first leg of the Asean Masters Circuit in the Indonesian city of Tarakan, and GM-elect Wesley So, the youngest Filipino ever to win the title and currently the youngest GM in the world.

For some reason, So was replaced by IM Julio Catalino Sadorra. I had no quarrel with that and said so publicly because I believe that Sadorra is one of our most promising players who also has earned one GM norm.Then, at the 11th hour, we sent IM John Paul Gomez in place of Paragua. Ordinarily, I have no quarrel with that either. After all, Gomez used to outshine Paragua when they were both junior players.

But then, preparation is the key to victory and we all know that John Paul has given priority to his university education at La Salle and that he has not really been playing much in local and international chess over the past two years.

His going to Moscow to play in the Aeroflot Open at the last minute has jeopardized not only his education and consequently his future career, but also his chances of earning a GM norm.

Sending our players to a foreign land without preparation, a second or even just a modicum of training under a competent coach is like sending sheep to the slaughterhouse.

Only homework under the skillful guidance of a coach builds up self-confidence, which along with an iron will to win and a keenly competitive spirit is the most potent asset a player can have in facing his rivals.

I trust, however, that John Paul and Julio Catalino will be able to overcome such a handicap by relying on their great fighting spirit and their never-say-die attitude to carry on.

Heaven help us all.

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