I CONSIDER myself a history buff and I always love to learn something new about history. So, a few days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the country’s first national master is from Moalboal, the tourist town down South where my parents grew up. I met the late NM Asing’s sons--Odelon and Billy--to talk about the planned memorial tournament in honor of the legendary player early next month.
I also did a quick research and I was surprised to learn also that our late chess columnist Nong Boy Pestaño held him in such high regard and that the late NM was also his adviser when he formed Cepca, that active group of professionals who love the game. I turned down many an invite from Nong Boy and I wished I hadn’t. To be able to talk to him about his vast knowledge about chess in the Philippines would have been priceless.
He was a seven-time member of the national team in an era when chess was held in such high regard in the country. He was also one of the teachers of Eugene Torre, Asia’s first grandmaster.
Aside from giving the players in Southern Cebu a chance to compete in a tournament setting, the Badilles Cup also hopes to discover gifted players here. I hear that often from various organizers, but this was one of the rare times that I believe they can do that. I know a lot of people--sports fans even--scoff at chess and they always get surprised when I point out that some schools offer athletic scholarships for chess.
When they hear that, some would say that they’d have their teenage kids pick up chess, hoping for a long shot of getting a scholarship. But if you pick up the game in your teens, unless you’re that rare gifted fellow, you’re too late.
They also want to hold a chess clinic. In fact, I was told that a lot of people here keep asking them for one but the lack of chess sets and clocks hindered them. A tournament is a chance for you to discover new talents, but if you want to develop them from scratch, then a clinic is the right opening move. And as luck would have it, the Philippine Sports Commission just donated chess sets to the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission, according to executive director Ramil Abing, and he said he can send some to support the clinic if the Moalboal Chess Club gets in touch with him.
As of now, the Badilles cup is a privately funded affair but I hope both Moalboal and Cebu Province can step in and help it grow. Hey, not every town or province can boast that the country’s first national master is from their place.
A Governor’s Cup for chess? Now, that’s something. After basketball and volleyball, chess? That would be another first in the country, having a province-wide chess competition.
But let’s start with the Badilles Cup. Their first event will be on May 4 and 5 but it’s not really the first Badilles Memorial since they had one almost a decade ago. I hope the next one won’t also take as long and do you know what can make that happen?
Support from the local government unit and I hope they will get it.