ASEAN chess: Diamonds in the rough in Davao
MANILA, Philippines – It is so easy to quit when things are not going well, but in the case of Sarri Subahani, persistence is paying off.
The 20-year-old education junior from Sulu is tied for 4th in the under-20 division of the 19th ASEAN Age Group Chess Championships in Davao City.
The unrated Subahani defeated 3 strong juniors in Daniel Quizon, the Asian Youth Under-18 runner-up, Stephen Rome Pangilinan and Kyle Rhenzi Sevillano to join John Marvin Miciano, the Asian Youth under-18 champion.
Then there’s also 9-year-old Ruelle Canino from Cagayan de Oro, the leader in the girls under-10 who defeated the Vietnamese contingent.
"She is known to have beaten strong players in their area," Dasmariñas coach Roel Abelgas said of Canino, the 6th child of a chess-playing family.
Subahani, a student from Sulu State College , plays the leader, Paulo Bersamina, in Sunday's 8th and penultimate round in a game that could test his resolve once more.
But Noenryrie Asiri, the president of the United Sulu Chess Club, knows the hurdles Subahani had overcome.
After Subahani failed to join the ASEAN junior chess championship in 2017, Asiri said in a private message on Facebook: Subahani "got frustrated. He dropped out from school. He also dropped out from the religious school and he stopped playing chess."
Asiri said their group was "successful in inspiring him now as we got a good a sponsorship from Governor Abdulsakur Tan II."
Still, Subahani's return came nearly unglued as in the Asian Universities and College Championships, where he landed in the top 20 and even lost to Michael Concio, the 14-year-old Dasmariñas teammate of Quizon. It was his first big national event but for him to be playing well in Davao has created ripples.
Subahani's openings appear not to have any bite but once he gets the advantage, he is ruthless in converting it to victory. He is quick to pounce on errors or if the foe loses vigilance. This is not how unrated players are supposed to perform.
"I am happy that his natural talent has come to the fore as he is the strongest among us all chess players in Sulu despite of his young age," said Asiri.
Age, skill and patience are the hallmarks of Canino, whose reputation is that of a prodigy.
Abelgas said Canino and Al-Basher Buto, whose parents are from Mindanao, dominated standard chess, rapid and blitz in the 2017 ASEAN age group in Pahang, Malaysia.
Canino, a student at Kauswagan Central School, was an under-8 champion in the 2016 ASEAN age group and an under-10 titlist in the 2017 edition.
Maria Gina Canino, Ruelle’s mother, said her daughter learned chess at the age of 5 from her brothers. Her husband, who is a clerk at Sabjec Customs Brokerage, rarely plays in Manila but their children always play chess.
The National Chess Federation of the Philippines may not be able to keep its ASEAN age group overall title but discovering unexpected diamonds in the rough like Subahani and Canino will be more than enough. – Rappler.com
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