A REVELATION last year, Filipino-American Scott Matthew Escalera started the Year of the Rat by finishing joint second place in the prestigious 2020 U.S. Junior Chess Congress 6-under category last January 11 at Santa Clara Convention Center in California, USA.

The fast-rising Escalera, whose father Ren Vincent Escalera was born in Cagayan de Oro City, scored four wins against a loss in the five-round Swiss System tourney.

Travelling all the way from Oak Park, Illinois to the venue, Escalera had only about two-hour sleep before plunging into the first day of action where he suffered his only defeat right in the second round.

The flight to California was delayed, thus forcing his family's stay at the airport for the night.

“To be honest, he only had 2 hours of sleep at the airport while waiting for our flight to California. After his 2nd round loss, he slept right away. He can no longer control his eyes from dropping due to overtiredness,” his father said.

Despite the odds, the young Escalera got himself into a three-way logjam for second place, though he was relegated to fourth after the Bucholz tiebreaker.

“At least nakatilaw mi og hardship nga nakatulog sa airport ug sa salog pa gyud,” Ren said.

Little Scott's performance was a big improvement from his 10th place finish in the National All-Grade Championships last December.

Escalera was a recipient of the “Player of the Year” citation given by his club, Chessvets at the close of 2019.