Chess

Top PH chess under-18 bet appeals, eyes World Cadets

Despite the setback, Paul Matthew Llanillo tries to keep his focus on the World Cadets Online and Rapid Chess tournament

Paul Matthew Llanillo appealed the decision of chess.com to take down his account due to a fair play violation but he will keep a steely-eyed focus on the World Cadets Online and Rapid Chess tournament where he is the Philippines’ top bet in the under-18.

“I appealed the decision [to chess.com] last Sunday,” he told Rappler in a phone interview. 

Llanillo’s chess.com account was taken down after he used the portal’s chess engine to analyze his first round game in the Azerbaijan online tournament held on chess.com. 

He was slapped a fair play violation, a generally worded term where the player received help during a game through a computer or human assistance, or possibly committed a technical mistake, like what happened to Llanillo.

“I was not told this should not be done in chess.com. In lichess, you can do this,” he said, noting he rarely uses his chess.com account and plays more in the other online chess server lichess.

As the World Cadets will be held December 11 on Tornelo, another online chess tournament platform, Llanillo can compete, a source in the National Chess Federation of the Philippines said. 

Filipino chess fans will see the form that saw him upset the top bet in the eliminations, Daniel Quizon, in a hard fought four-game playoff. In the second game, Llanillo missed the winning move and in the fourth game, Quizon, who was heavily favored, got stunned by Llanillo, who complicated the battle.

“Quizon was not expecting such a struggle,” said Llanillo’s coach, National Master Ricky Merano.

It was Merano, chess coach of the University of Perpetual Help Biñan campus, who trained Llanillo.  

“I saw him playing at a bakery, which chess players in Biñan frequent because there are tables there. He can play,” said Merano.

Merano, who made the national championship final 3 times, changed the Grade 10 student’s focus when he handled him in 2019. 

“I made him pay attention to tactics and improve his endgame after I saw some games where he drew but he was better,” said Merano, who wants his students to make chess a struggle and avoid slow buildup of positions.

“He has a plus. He reads (chess materials) and is willing to learn,” said Merano, who handled him for almost a year.

The University of Perpetual Help System shelved some sports programs, including chess, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Lllanilo transferred to Lyceum. 

But Llanilo’s father, Melchor, was pleasantly surprised when his son created the biggest surprise of the eliminations for the World Cadets.

The young Llanillo is looking forward to battle. “The players are quite strong but their games are available. I will try to do my best,” he said. 

Whatever happens, it is clear that Philippine chess has another new grandmaster prospect. – Rappler.com