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All eyes on Torre as Rizal gets ready for PCAP

WITH no less than Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre at the helm, Rizal is expected to make its presence felt in the first Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) tournament on Jan.12.

To be known as Rizal Towers and sponsored by the Barangays Achieving Thru Chess (BATCH) of sports patron Ed Madrid, Rizal is expected to field Torre and FM Mari Joseph Turqueza in the first two boards in the unique professional chess tournament.

Torre was made as the No. 1 overall pick by Rizal during the PCAP Players’ Draft last Dec. 20, and the 69-year-old Filipino champion is excited to lead the team, which will fittingly carry the monicker Towers.

“We’ll do our best to represent Rizal, said Torre, noting the province is named after the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

Torre noted that Dr.Rizal was an avid chess player himself and reportedly played the game even while on exile.

Another team to watch is Iloilo City, which will be bannered by GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. and former World Youth Championship campaigner Karl Victor Ochoa.

Antonio, who became the country’s third GM in 1993 after Torre (1974) and the late Rosendo Balinas, Jr. (1976), was selected as No. 2 pick overall by the Iloilo Knights of team owner Leo Sotaridona.

Ochoa rose to prominence when he represented the country in the 2003 World Youth Championships in Halkidiki, Greece.

Joining Antonio and Ochoa are WNM Cherry Ann Mejia, who will play on board three, and homegrown hero NM Cesar Mariano, who will handle board four.

Also expected to attract a lot of attention is Palawan, which is fielding an all-female chess team aptly called the Queen’s Gambit.

World Chess Olympiad veterans Shania Mae Mendoza, Catherine Pereña-Secopito and Marie Antoinette San Diego and Cecilia Cuizon will spearhead the team inspired by the popular Netflix series Queen’s Gambit.

To be managed by Susan Neri, the other members of the team are Mikee Charlene Suede, Carmelites Abanes and homegrown talents Marife dela Torre, Yanika Eli Seratubias and Jesibel Maberit.

In choosing to field an all-female team, we hope to draw more interest from Filipinas to play chess,” said team owner Jojo Mitra.

Caloocan City also holds the distinction of having the oldest player in the 24-team league — NM Pacifico Villasenor..

Villasenor, 81, will join IMs Paulo Bersamina and Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Kristine Joy Abellardo for the Caloocan Knights.

PCAP founding president-commisisoner Atty. Paul Elauria said member-teams are required to field a minimum of seven players.

All of them will have a fixed salary depending on which board they play.

We have decided to have fixed rates for Board 1 down to Board 7. We also have a salary cap for each team,” explained Elauria, adding that this excludes other income sources derived from incentives, bonuses and sponsorships once they come in.

Although the starting salary is relatively small, the amounts that the players will eventually earn will be much bigger as PCAP grows,” explained Elauria.

Elauria also said all players will be required to apply for a license from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.