LAPU-LAPU City’s young chess wizard Jerish John Velarde is eyeing his fourth trip to the Asean+ Age Group Championship, which will have its 17th edition on May 29 in Thailand.

Velarde, who now holds the Candidate Master title, will lead the Cebuano contingent to the National Age Group Championship in April after topping the U-10 Boys category in the Visayas Leg last month.

The nine-year-old Velarde is concentrating on his training for this tournament after failing to make the cut for the Palarong Pambansa following his third place finish in the regional meet in Naga City.

But more than the slot for the Asean tournament, Velarde is looking to surpass his achievement last year, when he won the silver medal in the Asian Schools tournament, missing the gold by a draw, while putting his school – the Lapu-Lapu City Central School as the No. 2 school in terms of chess in Asia and 11th in the world as he also finished 11th place in the World Schools Championship last year.

“The year 2015 will be a year Jerish will never forget. This is the year where he was able to win his first FIDE professional title as Candidate Master, in Chess at the age of 9 and an Asian silver medalist. He also played in the Fide World School tournament where he placed 11th in a competition participated by more than 60 school players around the world,” Velarde’s father John told Sun.Star Cebu.

Although he is no longer eligible for the CM title, Velarde is hoping to improve his ratings, which will enable him to move up the ladder.

Last Jan. 25, Velarde won the gold medal in the combined Boys 8/10 under category in Aklan and he will be joined by Nicole Mae Mangubat, Kristina Concepcion Belano, Marphine Faith Mangubat, Glesit Marie Tatoy, Jave Maverick Pateros and Jeremy Tanudra to the national finals.