THE young Cebuano chess International Master Kim Steven Yap has at least two goals—a
GM norm and Opening Cebuanos’ minds to the game.
This is the reason why he will be going all out starting this December to chase that elusive norm that has been denied to him for the past six years, and why he had put up the Cebu School of Chess, his first step in promoting chess to the Cebuanos.
“I'd like the people to be aware of the game. Some of my friends know how to play chess but they do not know the logic and the concept of the game. I always encountered questions like how could I earn a living out of chess. That’s what I want to achieve with the creation of the School of Chess, to answer questions like that and let people know how chess can change lives,” said Yap, who is setting out on his goal to win his first GM norm in December.
Chess runs in Yap’s blood.
His grandfather on the mother's side, Marcelo "Loloy" Ruelan is Cebu's first-ever National Master who was crowned Philippine Open champion in 1959 and an Asian record-holder for winning 18 games in 25 rounds with seven draws.
Kim's father is Lincoln Yap, a varsity player out of the University of the Visayas, who is now working as instructor at the Intchess Asia in Singapore. His mother Mona was a varsity player for the University of San Carlos and his uncles are IM Rico Mascarinas and Fide Arbiter Marvin Ruelan.
Yap grew up literally throwing pawns and bishops at the Cebu Chess Club (CCC) which was located at in Pelaez St. this city.
“I learned chess at the age of 6 and I had my first tournament at the age of 7. Where I bagged a brilliancy award for scoring a four moves checkmate against a newbie. At the age of 12, I won the national Kiddies title and became a co-champion in the Junior Division in 2005,” the AB English graduate of UC said.
The CCC was where GMs Richard Bitoon, Joseph Sanchez and Enrico Sevillano used to hang around.
Yap became a full-pledge IM in December 2008 in a tournament that was won by Bitoon but laid low when he became a chess instructor in Singapore.
“I tried earning a GM norm but it is really hard. After I earned the IM title, I laid low and for two years when worked in Singapore. That’s why until now I have no GM norm. I am hopeful it would come soon,” Yap said.
IM Yap is scheduled to play in the Fide-rated Philippine International Chess Championship on Dec. 2-12 and will be followed by the Puregold International Chess
Challenge on Dec. 14-21 and the Australia Open on January 2-11 next year.
Earning a norm requires a lot of training and international exposures.
“It's really tough, especially here in Asia because the GMs are really strong. To earn one, you need to play four GMs–three of them must be from different federations. And you need to score at least 2.5 against these GMs. The performance rating must be at least 2550 and your score (for a 9-round tournament) must be at least 6.5 points. It's really tough,” he said.
Yap is hoping to become a GM soon, but producing a GM could be his crowning glory as a
player because aside from running after the GM norm, mentoring young minds at the School of Chess is his other passion.
“We at the School of Chess want to produce a GM. Cebu has a lot of potential but one thing lacking is the we have no proper training program.
Here we teach the kids the concept and theories of the game from the opening, middle and ending games. We also prepare the kids for a long game which is often neglected," said Yap.