THE presence of atleast one female player in the team in the coming Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) tournament will help in the development of women’s chess in the country.
Reigning national women’s champion WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda said the decision of PCAP, headed by president-commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria and Chairman Michael Angelo Chua, will help discover and develop more talented female players.
“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 22nd “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom yesterday.
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,” explained the 26-year-old Fronda during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“All my female player-friends are looking forward to playing in the PCAP,” added Fronda, who rose to prominence by representing the country as a 10-year-old prodigy in the 2003 World Youth Chess Championships in Halkidi, Greece.
A three-time MVP in the UAAP while playing for La Salle and national team member for the past 15 years, Fronda said PCAP will be the answer to financial concerns of most chess players.
“Yung importansiya na ibinibigay ng PCAP, malaking bagay, malaking tulong sa mga players,” claimed Fronda, who also partly blamed the lack of support to the decision of GM Wesley So to transfer to the United States Chess Federation.
“Si Wesley, kasabay ko nung nagsisimula pa lang kami sa chess. Magkasama kami naglaro sa Greece. Sayang talaga na nawala sya sa Pilipinas,” rued Fronda.
But Fronda also expressed the hope of the local chess community that So will someday come back to play for the country again.
“Knowing Wesley, he is truly a Filipino at heart. Someday, baka bumalik siya.”
Fronda also lauded the blockbuster Netflix chess movie “Queen’s Gambit”, where the lead star, Beth Harmon, displayed her chess prowess against older and more-experinced male opponents.
“I think the movie will generate more interest in women’s chess and help encourage more female players to take up the game and like Beth, strive to excel in a man’s world,” explained Fronda.
Fronda admitted that she is presently being wooed by at least three PCAP teams to play for them.
“But I have already decided on which team to play, although I don’t want to announce it until after the PCAP Draft on Dec. 20,” said Fronda.
Based on the PCAP rules, each team will have one restricted player, preferably a GM or an IM , to play on board one.
There will also be one rated player for board two, a female player on board three and a senior player on board four.
“So, mabibigyan talaga ng pagkakataon ang mga female players natin na makalaro sa PCAP. Three could even be two female players on the team,” added Fronda.
Based on the PCAP list, a total of nine top-rated female players have already registered for the draft.
Aside from Fronda, the other notable female players in the list are Bernadette Galas, Shania Mae Mendoza, Marie Antoinette San Diego, Catherine Perena-Secopito, Allaney Doroy, Cherry Ann Mejia, Kajoy Acedo and Mira Mirano.
Fronda said more female players could be signed directly by PCAP teams as homegrown players.
“Mas madami pang female players ang lalabas bago at pagkatapos ang PCAP Draft on Dec. 20,” she said.