CHESS was the first sport I ever tried to learn but abandoned. Using second-hand chess books, I tried to learn some of the moves, only to learn some months later that the notations used had been changed.
A few days ago, I downloaded a chess app just for fun and managed to hook up with some random player--I think it was a Japanese since her user name was Sakura. Anyway, she was clearly a beginner because not I only did I win my first chess match in over a decade, I also won a rematch!
However, my lack of talent was made obvious later that night when I faced our office’s resident expert Erwin Lirazan, who easily defeated me even if he played without a rook (he was unwilling to go queen-less).
We were in the sprawling house of Jerry Maratas, the amiable president of the Cebu Executive and Professionals Chess Association, a group founded by the late SunStar Cebu columnist Boy Pestaño. Our leisurely game paled in comparison to that of Jerry and the Cepca officers, who engaged in friendly trash-talking while making moves that were too quick for me to follow.
Heck, one had a barely tapped at his chess clock and the other would quickly make his own. It was fun watching the two go at each other and listening to them taunt one another.
It was my first time to attend a Cepca gathering and by the looks of it, it won’t be the last. Aside from chess, we also played ping pong while Erwin played the guitar.
And if plans push through, future gatherings involving Cepca and sportswriters won’t be purely socializing after San Miguel Brewery’s Girlie Garces, our partner in the annual SAC Awards, said she hopes to launch a chess program targetting poor kids who are living under the second Mactan-Mandaue bridge.
Cepca has done some chess training in the past and was even instrumental in that massive campaign years ago that resulted to Cebu City having the chess tournament with the most number of participants.
Chess is a wonderful game to pick up and since it’s already part of the collegiate leagues, it’s a chance, too, for those who dream of an athletic scholarship. Sure, this program might not produce the next Pinoy grandmaster but if it can help even just one complete a college education through chess, then it’s worth the effort.
I guess this means I have to hone my skills, too, should Cepca, SAC and San Miguel push through with the plan. Time to hunt for Sakura.