THE country’s leading female chess players, led by reigning national women’s champion Jan Jodilyn Fronda, hope to “follow the footsteps of Beth Harmon” when they join the coming Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) Draft on Dec. 20.
Harmon is the lead character in the blockbuster Netflix movie “Queen’s Gambit”, a seven-part series which follows the rise of a female chess prodigy who excelled in the male-dominated game.
Fronda and fellow national team members Shania Mae Mendoza, Marie Antoinette San Diego, Bernadette Galas and Catherine Perena-Secopito lead a wave of outstanding female players hoping to make an impact in the country’s first-ever professional chess league starting next month.
In all, a tottal of 30 female players have applied for the PCAP Draft to be participated in by all 24 member-teams.
PCAP president-commissioner atty. Paul Elauria said teams are required to field at least one female player in their line-up as part of the league’s gender equality policy.
Any team, however, can field more than one female player.
“I think it’s a brilliant move by the PCAP. This will give more female players like me the opportunity to show what we can do,” said Fronda during the Dec. 3 edition of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS).
Fronda, who captured the national women’s chess championship last year, said having a professional league like PCAP will open the door for more female chess players.
“The PCAP will be another good venue for female players, who want to continue to play after completing college and serving the national team,”she added.
The other notable players who are now eligible to be drafted by PCAP teams are Judith Pineda, Mary Ann Mejia, Rowelyn Joy Acedo, Mira Mirano, Carmelita Abanes, Fiona Guirhem, Michella Concio, Enrica Villa, Genlaiza Bagorio, Rida Jane Young, Ezraline Alvarez, Virgenie Ruaya, Jessa Mae Lisondra, Kisha Marie Flores, Cindy Martinez, Susan Grace Neri, Faith Mangubat, Angel Jean Salem, Joan Vender, Sheryll Bordoc, Sarah Mae Chua, Yanika Seratubias, Krizza Mae Biggayan and Rayelyn Posadas.
Aside from one female player, PCAP teams are also required to field two titled players, one senior player and homegrown players.
The draft is also open to players with disabilities, according to Atty. Elauria.
Antipolo City holds the distinction of getting the No. 1 pick overall in the talent-laden draft, which attracted eight grandmasters and 11 international masters.
Iloilo will pick second, while Quezon City will choose third.
Also joining the draft are Iriga, fourth; Negros, fifth; Cordova, sixth; Rizal, seventh; San Juan, eighth; Mindoro, ninth; Lapu Lapu, 10th; Surigao, 11th; Manila, 12th; Camarines, 13th; Olongapo, 14th; Cabuyao,15th; Toledo, 16th; Cagayan, 17th; Zamboanga, 18th; General Trias, 19th; Isabela, 20th; Cebu, 21st; Caloocan, 22nd; Pasig, 23rd; and Palawan, 24th.