Chess trio booked for Oceania qualifier

Yat Sen student Russell Taloga and USP student Zen Borg will join Candidate Master Manoj Kumar at the 2017 Oceania Zonal Tournament in New Zealand next week.

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(Clockwise from Left) Zen Borg, Manoj Kumar and Russell Taloga had their final training session last week and will depart for Auckland on Friday.

16-year-old Taloga makes his international debut, while 19-year-old Borg plays in his second tournament abroad.

In contrast, veteran CM Kumar plays in his seventh zonal event.

“I have seen first-hand junior players dominating the zonal and the level of competition improving Oceania region,” said Kumar.

The national champion said Fiji hoped to attain new titles and tipped Taloga and Borg to be the players to watch in the new season.

“Participating in these intense Oceania events will make them stronger players and they can aspire to be selected in the Olympiad team very soon,” said Kumar.

“Russell and Zen have a good chance to get CM titles because they were the top junior players in Fiji last year,”

A player has to score at least 4.5 points at the zonal event to get a CM title.

Fiji has eight Candidate Master (CM), one Woman Candidate Master (WCM), and two Woman FIDE Master (WFM) titles.

The Oceania zonal tournament is a biennial event. This year, it is hosted by the New Zealand Chess Federation and will be held in Auckland from January 14-20.

The winners in the Open and Women’s divisions will qualify for the Chess World Cup 2017, a 128-player tournament in Tbilisi, Georgia, from 1 to 25 September 2017.

Fiji hosted the Oceania Zonal in 2013 and is bidding to host the 2019 tournament.