Twelve-year-old Jerlyn Mae San Diego is determined to follow in her sister’s footstep and make her and their father, Antonio, utterly proud.
She’s one of the youngest among the Philippine bets in the recent ASEAN chess championship in Malaysia, yet, she unfurled a dominating performance that catapulted the country to its best ever finish yet in the tournament.
She had a perfect stint that netted her six gold medals in the individual and team events in standard, rapid and blitz of the girls’ 12-under category.
Her contribution told a lot in the Philippines chart-topping production of 83 golds, 37 silvers and 29 bronzes. Malaysia followed with 8-33-41 and Indonesia at third with 12- 6-4.
Jerlyn, younger sister of Women’s Fide Master Marie Antoinette, is just starting.
“Pangarap ko pong maging WGM (women’s grandmaster),” quipped Jerlyn, who was attracted to the game when her sister and father travel abroad to compete.
“Nung nakakapunta po sila sa ibang bansa, na-engganyo na po ako. Nag start na po akong magpaturo kay daddy,” said the grade 7 student, who idolizes GM Wesley So.
Jerly vows to continue her splendid game as the Philippines take turns to host the tournament in Davao this June.
“Pagbubutihan ko pa po nang husto and mag-train.”
Almost but not quite
Jerlyn’s teammate from Dasmarinas City, Kyleen Joy Mordido, almost had a perfect game too. She just missed one and ended up with five golds and a silver in the same Malaysian event.
But Joy is not complaining.
“Tuloy-tuloy lang naman po. Parang career na po ito sa akin at mas gagalingan ko pa,” said the grade 10 student, who hopes to avail of scholarship from Manila schools when she turns college.
The 15-year-old started playing four years ago and she learned the tricks quickly. Thanks to his younger brother, Eric, who is her teammate in the national team.
“Naglaro kasi ang kapatid ko, na-engganyo din ako kaya nagpaturo na din ako sa tito ko.”
She said, chess looks easy for her.
“Enjoy lang naman po ako, parang hindi naman ako napapagod, “ added Joy, who trains using her computer, most of the time.
Upbeat and confident
Two more best from Team Philippine, Daniel Quizon and Michael Concio Jr., are upbeat about their return to the ASEAN tourney and getting the chance to earn FIDE Master norms that will be at stake for the first time in the lower age levels of 16, 14 and 12-under.
“Sana makapasok ulit ako sa qualifiers,” said the 13-year-old Quizon, who won three gold medals the last time it was held in Kuala Lumpur last November.
He took home the individual medals in the standard, rapid and blitz categories and 14-under division.
Quizon will be joining the tournament for the sixth straight time.
And his performance in Kuala Lumpur was his best ever finish so far.
On the other hand, Concio claimed took the standard and blitz honors, and a silver in the rapid matches of the under-12 rapid action.
Because of this Concio feels that it will be his chance to come with better finishes this time around.
“Expect ko po ito,” said Concio.
Concio, who is coached by his father Michael Sr. is playing his fourth international tournament.
It was hi second best showing for the year after becoming a finalist in the 2017 Battle of the Grandmasters.
Quizon, with an Elo rating of 2132, is touted to be the strongest junior player in his age level.
San Diego, Mordido, Concio and Quizon maybe training under different coaches but they are all under the care of Roel Abelgas, playing for the City Dasmarinas in Caviete.
Dasmarinas City, with the full backing of mayor Elpidio Barzaga and his wife fourth district Cavite representative Jenny Barzaga, is touted as the powerhouse team among local age-group campaigners.
Dasmarinas players comprised the majority of Team Philippines.
“Malaki talaga ang pasalamat namin kay mayor Pidi (Barzaga) dahil sa buong suporta niya sa chess,” said Abelgas, chess consultant of the Dasmarinas City team.
Barzaga has put up at chess library that contains computer, books, chess sets and a chess room that can accommodate 50 players at a time. Abelgas said at least 200 players visit the chess library every day.
Barzaga also provided the Dasmarinas players each with laptop so they can train on-line every day. He also provides allowances for the players competing abroad under the Philippine uniform.
“Kaya malaki ang tsansa naming mahigitan pa ang performance sa Malaysia dahil full support sa amin si mayor.”
Four players from Dasmarinas will join the Philippine team next week to compete in the China Youth International Open under-20 tournament.
“Sana makakuha kami ng norms doon,” said Abelgas. With Peter Atencio
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