IT'S still a long way to go for Cagayan de Oro pride, Antonio Chavez Jr. whose chess career is now going great guns.
For the second-straight year, the 20-year-old Chavez anchored the FEU (Far Eastern University) Tamaraws' four-consecutive title finish in the 72nd season of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) chess team championships.
Chavez was also consistent scorer on the lower board when FEU topped the Unigames and Ched (Commission on Higher Education) National Finals.
"I won't be here if not for FCD-Shirov Academy," said Chavez, the once skinny boy from Barangay Bonbon, in acknowledging the legendary chess training group in Cagayan de Oro then reinforced by National Master Levi Mercado, Jaime Joshua Frias II, now chief village of Barangay 23, and Capitol trainer Johnnel Balquin, among others.
Chavez and 2009 ASEAN age-group silver medalist Lennon Hart Salgados of Corpus Christi School are the pioneering members of FCD which stands for Fighting Chess Defenders.
"Oks sab ang support sa FEU especially sa among coach (Grandmaster Jayson Gonzales)," Chavez told his mentor back home.
FEU ruled the UAAP's men and women events after beating host University of Santo Tomas at the Tan Yan Kee Student Center in Manila on Sunday.
However, FEU lacked half a point in the juniors' division as it garnered 36 points behind the Adamson University Baby Falcons' 36.5 points. It was a three-peat for Adamson in the junior division championship.
The Tamaraws, mentored by two-time Olympian GM Gonzales and National Master (NM) Alex Milagrosa, tallied 42 points to capture their four-peat title.
Lyndon Sombilon, Sheider Nebato, Luffe Magdalaga, Antonio Chavez, Jr. and Kevin Mirano won over the Tigers, 3.5-0.5, in the final round.
The Lady Tamaraws, meantime, ended the tournament with 31.5 points after beating the Lady Tigers, 3-1.
The FEU women's team is composed of 2006 Doha Asian Games representative Woman National Master (WNM) Jedara Docena, Ronna Reigner Senora, Jenny Rose Palomo, Rulp Ylem Jose and Lovelyn Medina.
"Our hard work paid off because we never stopped practicing after we won the Unigames, Ched National Finals among other collegiate competitions," said Gonzales.
Meanwhile, Grandmaster Buenaventura "Bong" Villamayor emerged the winner in the "All In Sports Expo" Open Rapid Chess Tournament at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Canteen of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila on Sunday.
Villamayor and GM Mark Paragua both tallied 8 points in 9 outings but the former got the upper hand after the tie-break points were applied.
Villamayor had superior Buchholz of 57.5 points to bag the championship, while Paragua settles for runner-up with 52 points.
The top 2 finishers received P25,000 each in the event hosted by PSC chairman Harry Angping and backed by National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) President/Chairman Prospero "Butch" Pichay, Jr.
Villamayor defeated FIDE (World Chess Federation) Master David Elorta in the final round.
He swept his first 5 matches before halving the point with Paragua in the 6th round. He then beat Gonzales in the 7th round and drew with top seed GM Wesley So in the 8th round.
Paragua, on the other hand, hurdled his final round assignment at the expense of nine-time National Open champion, GM Rogelio "Joey" Antonio Jr. (With MB)