Vietnam rules ASEAN chess despite late PH heroics


MANILA, Philippines – Youngsters Antonelle Berthe Racasa, Ronald Canino and Kaye Regidor emerged as the surprise winners in their divisions, but they failed to give the Philippines a lift in the final day of the standard chess competition as Vietnam ruled the ASEAN Age Group Chess Championship Sunday night, June 24, in Davao City.

Racasa, Canino and Regidor came from behind to win the girls under-12, boys under-16 and girls under-8, respectively, as the Philippines won 6 of the 14 events in the tournament.

Paulo Bersamina and national women's champion Shania Mae Mendoza delivered the expected wins in the marquee under-20 division as FEU high school reserve Dale Bernardo also topped the under-18. 

"He is a tactician,"  FEU coach Jayson Gonzales said of Bernardo, a gold medallist on 6th board in the last UAAP season.

Alex Lupian, a member of the 1982 Olympiad team, took the 50- and 65-and-above event.

The Philippines won the overall title in the ASEAN age group last year in Pahang, Malaysia as Vietnam was not able to field a full team. The Philippines topped last year's standard chess, rapid and blitz events to rule the tournament for the first time. 

Racasa, the only child of a lecturer on enhancing memory for law students, scored 2.5 in the last 3 rounds to take her Fide Master title. The other winners, if they have no titles from the World Chess Federation (FIDE) yet, also earned Fide Master title except Regidor as it is offered only to players aged 12 and above.

"Our family's happiness knows no bounds," said Racasa, a former board one of Polytechnic University of the Philippines in his college years. 

Canino, stepping up after top seed Alekhine Nouri faltered, tied two Vietnamese with 6.5 points. He defeated the second placer, Pham Phu Vinh, but did not meet Bui Duc Huy, who in effect shared first with the Filipino high school student from Cagayan de Oro.

A double celebration eluded the Caninos as Ruelle, who won the under-8 title in previous years and is seeking the under-10 plum, lost twice on Sunday to settle for 3rd.

Regidor, who is from Tanuan, Batangas, won her last 3 games as she made up for the losses of Canino from Vietnamese players.

Al-Basher Buto, who ruled his under-8 age division for two years, also lost twice to the remaining Vietnamese in Sunday's 8th and 9th round to finish 3rd. "They were ready for him," said National Chess Federation of the Philippines executive director Red Dumuk of the Vietnamese, whose coach was their first grandmaster, Dao Thien Hai.

Perhaps emboldened by his success in foreign events against older titled players,  Daniel Quizon, the 14-year-old star of the Dasmarinas chess team, was fielded in the under-20 where he tied 6th to 7th with Kyle Rhenzi Sevillano of FEU. 

Quizon will be fielded in the under-14 in the rapid and blitz events and Kylen Joy Mordido in the under-16 category.  

Last year's national junior champion Francois Marie Magpily of Makati shook off her debacle in the national women's eliminations, and surged to finish second in the under-16. Jerish John Velarde of Cebu also rallied to finish second in the boys under-12.

Meanwhile, Surigao Rep. Prospero Pichay was re-elected president of the Asean Chess Confederation. Gonzales was named one of the 4 vice presidents. Red Dumuk was named deputy secretary general. –