BLUE-bloodied Kagay-anon Jaime Joshua Frias II has high regards of the Filipino chess players' innate talent in the Game of Kings.
Given the chance, he believes that the country's budding pawn pushers can excel anywhere in the world which he proved once again in the recent Australian Open dubbed as 2019 02C Doeberl Cup Major Chess Tournament held April 19 to 22 at the Canberra Southern Cross Club in Canberra, Australia.
The only Filipino participating in the prestigious event, the 36-year-old Frias played through undefeated, scoring six wins against a draw in seven rounds to capture the championship trophy in the majors division of the FIDE-rated chessfest.
The gutsy Frias, a long-time SunStar Cagayan de Oro sports correspondent and former village chair of Barangay 23, went home P56,000 richer.
"Probably because of financial constraint due to poverty, only few has the courage or capability to campaign abroad. But as what I've said time and again, Filipino chess players stand a good chance of winning the marbles anywhere in the world basta masuportahan lang nga maka-compete,” said Frias, who first tried his luck during the 25th Abu Dhabi Open International Chess Festival in August 2018 where he managed to emerge as the top-unrated performer in the Grandmasters-laden Open Section.
Frias listed Toby Huey, Badar Zuod, Matthew Bennett, Chinese Ruicheng Wang and Armenian Vladimir Chugunov, all residents of Australia, among his casualties. He split the point with Shen Zhiyuan of China in the penultimate sixth round.
The Cagayan de Oro bet considered his Chinese rival Zhiyuan as his toughest foe in the Major Open, though he thanked Chugunov as his lucky charm after the Armenian defeated Zhiyuan in the final round to pave the way for Frias' solo grip of the first place honor.
Frias cited a US invitation of another international chess competition as his next target this year.
"I thank you Kap Gilda ‘Gigi’ Go of Barangay 21 for your big help. Thank you too Kap Jocelyn ‘Bebot’ Rodriguez. Special thanks also to Charles ‘Bosing’ Laya and Kuya Anton. Likewise, heap of thanks to my uncles and aunts in Australia such as Mr. Mauro and Mrs. Virgie Vitullo, Mr. Peter and Thata Lindsay. Mindalina Malsem and her children Tim, Allan and Michelle for their warm welcome and accomodation. Of course, to Cagayan de Oro chess godfather NM Roly Tan and fellow master Rustum Tolentino," acknowledged Frias.