CEBU CITY -- The eight-year-old Ruelle Canino was crying at the thought she won't make it to the Philippine age group chess team this year.
This, as Cagayan de Oro chess contingent puts up a dismal show in the 2017 National Age Group Chess Championships concluded on Tuesday at Robinsons Galleria here.
Like a baby, Canino hugged her mother in tears after she blew a winning game against close rival Daren dela Cruz, ending their 10-under girls match in the penultimate 12th round in a draw.
Already, Antonella Berthe Racasa was the virtual winner, while Daren dela Cruz assured herself of the second spot after the draw.
Canino felt she’s already out in the race for third or the last qualifying berth after learning that Kimberly Colaste is leading her by a full point.
Another player, Kristina Concepcion Belano leads Canino by half a point. They land at distant fourth and fifth places, respectively.
But miracle happened.
As Canino won her last round assignment against Gabrielle Detuya, the heavens sided on her as Belano drew her game against Aysah Buto, while Colaste lost to Racasa.
A three-way logjam ensued among Canino, Belano and Colaste with similar 8.5 points each.
And to complete her luck, the pint-size Canino, a two-time national age group 8-under champion from Barangay Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro, edged out Belano and Colaste in the tiebreaker to join Racasa and Dela Cruz in the Asean Age Group for the third-straight year.
Thus, Canino saved the entire 13 Oro delegation from a total wipe out in the week-long tournament.
“Siya ra gyud ang na-hero sa tanan gikan malampaso ang delegasyon,” said Johnnel Balquin, who heads the delegation.
Canino also thanked the City Government and her patron Barangay 21 chairwoman Gilda Go for the opportunity.
Balquin placed second with six points in the tourney’s side event for players of all ages.
From his lone defeat against National Master Merben Roque of Cebu City, Balquin swept the remaining rounds to cop the Php 6,000 cash prize.
NM Roque dominated the tournament with half a point lead to go home P12,000 richer.