Sports of Profile: Moment of truth-A A +A
Saturday, June 23, 2012
IT'S the moment of truth as 15-year-old Austin Jacob Literatus, the lone Davao City player in the lean-but-mean Team Philippines, embarks on a very familiar challenge at an entirely new territory.
The Toril-based Dona Carmen National High School senior student leaves Manila today to play for flag and country in the Asian Youth Chess Championships (AYCC) at Hotel Chaya in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka for the entire week.
Fresh from his triple gold medal and two silver performance in the 13th Asean+ Age-Group Chess Championships (AAGCC) in Hue City, Vietnam, AJ is competing again in boys under-16 event.
Barely two years ago, the Dabawenyo ace made his AYCC debut in Beijing, China where he was entered in boys U14. But the inexperience may have foiled his medal hopes then having finished 12th over-all in the individual ranking.
A more seasoned AJ, however, is ready to take on another gargantuan task of his entire chess career in this year's edition of the AYCC.
The newest Dabawenyo Fide Master (FM) was seeded 15th in the 23-man field of the standard chess event with an Elo rating of 1978.
FM Javanbakht Nima (2395) of Iraq, Narayanan SL (2355) and FM Girish A Koushik (2337) of India and Akhmetov Ayan (2264) of Kazakhstan were the top four seeded players. Vietnam FMs Le Tuan Minh (2147) and Lu Chan Hung (2143) were ranked 10th and 11th, respectively. Le Tuan Minh was Literatus' fellow standard gold medalist in the just-concluded Asean tournament where the Davao bet defeated Lu Chan Hung.
AJ, in a phone conversation before departing for Sri Lanka, said his recent feats boosted his morale and that he hopes to keep the momentum in the AYCC.
He is eyeing a gold medal although he admitted that Chinese, Indians and Vietnamese will be tough opponents.
"I am very determined to bring home a gold," AJ said.
National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) regional director James Infiesto, meanwhile, said: "AJ has a good chance of winning but competition will be very tight with players from powerhouse China, India, Iran and other countries," Infiesto said.
If it is any consolation though, no Chinese was included in the starting rank of the boys U16. Other players are from Mongolia, Jordan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Kyrgyzstan.
The Sri Lanka stint is AJ's sixth international competition. He first competed in the 10th AAGCC in Vietnam in 2009 where he took one gold, two silvers and three bronzes. A year later, he cornered two golds, two silvers and one bronze in the 11th AAGCC in Subic, Zambales then got a gold and a silver in in the 12th AAGCC in Tarakan, Indonesia last year.
AJ, son of Eusebio, a businessman, and Consorcia, a housewife, already had a host of local, regional and national championships since he engaged in competitive chess in 2002.
He held three Mindanao titles of the Shell National Youth Active Chess Championships and qualified in the national grand finals three times with a bronze finish in 2010. He also earned three titles in the National Age-Group Chess Championships (NAGCC).
He is a six-time Araw ng Dabaw champion and a five-time Kadayawan sa Dabaw titlist, a three-time Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) Meet gold medalist, a Palarong Pambansa 2009 gold winner and a Palaro 2012 bronze medalist.
In his Batang Pinoy Games debut last year, he topped the Mindanao finals and went on to win the silver in the Pangasinan nationals.
All these achievements (he's got a long list!) were just among the highlights of his decorated athletic career. But AJ, a relative of international master (IM) Marlo Micayabas, is barely halfway through. A bright future, indeed, is waiting for this whiz kid who started pushing chess pieces at age five.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 24, 2012.