Philippines rules ASEAN age group chess championship
Philippines rules ASEAN age group chess championship
Victory really hypnotizes, especially in the eyes of Filipino chess fans who hunger for more achievements

MANILA, Philippines – For the first time since it joined the ASEAN Age Group Chess Championship, the Philippines won the overall title as Vietnam, the perennial champion, was unable to field a full contingent.

Thus, national coach Jayson Gonzales, while trumpeting the achievement, sounded the clarion call of caution. Next year, when Davao City hosts this event, Vietnam will seek to regain the crown.

“We are expecting more countries to participate and more players competing. Expecting 500 players,” said Gonzales in a Viber group message Tuesday, December 5. 

“There should be scientific and systematic training,” he added. “It’s imperative for Filipinos to upgrade our training so we are not left behind.”

Victory really hypnotizes, especially in the eyes of Filipino chess fans who hunger for more achievements. In the near weeklong event at Pahang, Malaysia, the Philippines won a total of 83 golds, 37 silvers and 29 bronze. Malaysia finished second with 8 golds, 33 silvers and 41 bronze. Indonesia placed third with 12 golds, 6 silvers and 4 bronze medals.

Vietnam, which joined in the rapid and blitz events, won 5 golds and two silver medals.

A player can win 3 individual golds in chess games played under 3 different time controls. If 3 players from the same country finish 1-2-3, an extra team gold is given.

Kaye Regidor (girls Under 8), Al Basher Buto (boys Under 8), Kyleen Joy Mordido ( girls Under 16) and Daniel Quizon ( boys Under 14) won three individual events each, resulting in 12 of the golds won.

Michael Concio Jr., who was a finalist in the 2017 Battle of the Grandmasters, won the standard and blitz events, and finished second in the rapid competition boys Under 12 category.

Concio, Quizon and Mordido are some of the players being honed in Dasmarinas, Cavite. The town has been training promising chess players in their area for at least a decade. Quizon, by Elo rating of 2132, is the strongest but Concio is the only one who has qualified for the finals of the national championship.

It is welcome news to Philippine chess. In the Asian Indoor Games, the Philippines took home a silver medal and two bronze medals. Many-time national champion Joey Antonio finished second in the World Senior Championship, 50 years and above.

But the Philippine Open, sponsored by Puregold for close to a decade, will not be held this month, forcing the country’s players to compete in Malaysia or in Hong Kong.  

Will the stupendous ASEAN age group triumph mean better times for Philippine chess? In 2018, defending this crown and preparing the Olympiad teams will be paramount for the National Chess Federation of the Philippines. It is a test of wills not only of the players but for chess officials to scout for resources to add to government funds for training and exposure.

But maybe these kids would be able to stoke that dormant fire needed to bring Philippine chess back to life. –

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