Charito Bandal, top PH chess player in the '70s, dies at 78



MANILA, Philippines – Rosario "Charito" Bandal, one of the country’s top women chess players in the 1970s, passed away on Monday, August 13, in Calbayog City at 78. 

Wake will start Saturday, August 18 until Monday, August 20 at St Peter’s, Quezon Avenue. Cremation will follow, said Bandal's younger brother Rosendo Jr, a member of the famous Philippine team that qualified to the final A group in the 1968 Olympiad.  

Bandal's death, first reported by her nephew Jason, also recalled an era where chess was played for enjoyment but with the aim for qualifying in the biennial Olympiads or Asian Zonal. 

Bandal – eldest in a big chess-playing family led by 1950 national champion, Rosendo Sr. – placed second to Lita Alvarez, then the country’s top player in one national contest in the 1970s.

She failed to qualify for the first Philippine women’s team to an Olympiad, Haifa 1976, losing out to Alvarez, Mila Emperado, Herminia Cartel and Andrea Lizares. 

But she retained her love for the game despite working as assistant city fiscal of Manila and Regional Trial Court Judge in Gandara, Samar. 

“She always told me to drop by at city hall at noontime if I had nothing to do to play chess,” recalled Emperado in a phone interview with Rappler.  

Emperado said Bandal had a positional style, accumulating small advantages to win.  

This contrasted with the tactical style of her three younger brothers, two of whom became national masters.

“We are tactical players. We didn’t read much,” said Rosendo Jr, who retired as RTC judge in Dumaguete last March.  “We had a very good library, with books by (then world champions ) Mikhail Botvinnik, Vassily Smyslov and (Paul) Keres ( the Estonian who missed challenging for the world title).”

On weekends, top players came to their house, said Rosendo Sr. The Bandal children were sharpened by Ramon Lontoc Jr. then the country’s top player.

The Bandals competed in national team event, led by Felix, whom Rosendo Jr said was the strongest among the brood, Ricardo, Rosendo Jr and David. Charito was a reserve.

“Our top opponent was Manila led by (then national open champ) Renato Naranja; Edgar de Castro (now a Philippine Star columnist); former Philippine champion Ruben Reyes; and Augustus Vister,” said Rosendo Jr. 

In those days, a modest cash prize, a trophy or even a chess clock would be the prizes, magnified by big space in the sports pages of the Manila Times. Most chess players were employed in companies which got to play in national events. –