Forty eight players, including the leading junior players and a slew of rising stars, gear up for a fierce showdown in three divisions in the Shell National Youth Active Chess Championships grand finals slated October 1 to 2 at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong.
The elite field, which survived the grueling five-stage regional elims, makes its final build up for the big event, a nine-round Swiss system tournament sponsored by Pilipinas Shell with time control of 20 minutes with five time-delayed mode (Bronstein system).
While the Big City bets remain the early favorites, those from the provinces are raring to prove their worth as they gun not only for cash prizes and trophies but also bragging rights as champions of the country’s longest talent search that has produced some of the country’s top grandmasters, including GMs Wesley So, Mark Paragua and Nelson Mariano 2nd, among others.
Keen competition is seen not only in the kiddies, juniors and seniors divisions but also in the female category, which features 15 finalists who slugged it out with their male counterparts in their respective regional elims of the circuit sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.
They include NCR qualifiers Rheam De Guzman of Marie Margareth School (kiddies), Francois Magpily (juniors) and Rowelyn Joy Acedo of La Salle (seniors); Southern Luzon leg winners Jerlyn San Diego of The First Uniting Christian School (kiddies), Kylen Joy Mordido of Dasmariñas National HS (juniors) and Ruth de Guzman of UP (seniors); Cebu leg champions Alphecca Gonzales of Dunggoan Elem. School (kiddies), Natori Diaz of Sagay Nat’l HS (juniors) and Laila Nadera of Univ. of San Carlos (seniors); Davao stage champions Aliyah Lumangtad of Magugpo Pilot Imelda ES (kiddies), Kristensen Banguiran of Holy Trinity College-Gen. San City (juniors) and Starjen Candia of Cor Jesu College-Digos City (seniors); and Cagayan de Oro finalists Regina Quinanola of Malabuyoc Central School (kiddies), Mary Joy Tan of Jasaan National High School (juniors) and Janes Caingles of Holy Cross of Davao College (seniors).
Meanwhile, Lawrence Magura of Nazareth School N.U. along with UE’s Eliseo Budoso and Khristian Arellano of Adamson head the NCR seniors finalists while La Salle-Greenhills’ Julius Gonzales, Istraelito Rilloraza and UE’s Lee Palma banner the juniors cast and Mark Bacojo of Escuela De Sto Rosario, Chester Reyes of San Isidro Labrador ES and Johann Gaddi of Precious Kesziah Learning lead the kiddies delegation from NCR.
Making up the Southern Luzon qualifiers are Nelson Busa, Jr. of St. Benilde and Brylle Vinluan of NU (seniors), Dale Bernardo of FEU HS Diliman and Emanuel Van Paler of UST (juniors) and Michael Concio, Jr. of St. Anthony School (Los Baños) and Daniel Quizon of San Miguel ES (kiddies); while the finalists from the Visayas leg are Univ. of San Jose Recoletos stalwarts Jethro Esplanada and Allan Pason (seniors); Univ. of Cebu’s Chris Pondoyo and Adrian Basilgo (juniors) and Jerish Velarde of Marie Ernestine School and Arje Villarin, Cabancalan Nat’l HS (kiddies).
University of Mindanao is fielding in two entries in the seniors class, including John Batucan and Daniel Borinaga, while Carl Sato of A.O. Floirendo Nat’l HS and Earl Mantilla of Mindanao U are the Davao leg finalists in juniors and Adrian de Luna of Santa Barbara Nat’l HS in Iloilo and Clyde Saraos of Bobontugan ES are vying in the kiddies section.
The top finishers in the Cagayan de Oro leg, on the other hand, are Ahmad Ali Azote of Agusan Nat’l HS and Diego Abraham Caparino of Univ. of San Carlos (seniors) and Euniel Grant Capilitan of Fr. William Masterson ES and Robick Villa of Boalan Elem. School (kiddies).