A total of 192 players from all over the country joined the Luzon leg of the National Age-group Chess Championships that got underway Sunday at Hiyas ng Bulacan Pavilion in Malolos City, Bulacan.
Luzon is well represented with players mostly coming from the 'chess cities' of Metro Manila including Quezon City, Las Pinas City, Caloocan City, Marikina City, Manila City, Malabon City, Pasay City, Valenzuela City, Pasig City and 'Power house' Makati City. Other cities include Baguio City, Lipa City, Cabanatuan City, Tanauan City, Olongapo City, Naga City, San Fernando City, Vigan City, Tarlac City, Urdaneta City, and host city of Malolos.
Other entries from Luzon came from Provinces of Camarines Norte, Quirino, Pangasinan, Rizal, Cavite, Masbate, Laguna, Pampanga, Ilocos Sur, Nueva Vizcaya and host province of Bulacan.
Conducting the ceremonial moves in the opening program is no other than Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Neri Colmenares and Dennis Gutierrez, a former ASEAN Age-group gold medalist.
Witnessing the ceremonial moves were NCFP Chairman/President Prospero Pichay, Grandmaster Eugenio Torre, NCFP Executive Director Jayson Gonzales, Provincial Youth, Sports, Employment, Arts, Culture and Tourism Office (PYSEACO) head Elizabeth Alonzo, and Bulacan board members Therese Cherylle Ople and Michael Fermin.
Pichay in his opening message praised the provincial government of Bulacan headed by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado for hosting the event and the Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Neri Colmenares for its 'continuous support'.
Upon learning that Philippines has more than 10 million chess aficionados as mentioned by Chairman Pichay, Cong. Colmenares in his speech said: "Hopefully, one of these children will become future grand masters".
The tournament organized by NCFP and sponsored by Senator Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel is being staged to choose the Philippine representative to the ASEAN Age-group plus in Bangkok, Thailand in June.
Meanwhile early leaders shone after three rounds of chess action. Jerad Docena defeated Virgen Gil Ruaya to lead the Boys under-20 with three points while Dennis Gutierrez Jr. and Heirry Manaloto also with three points, crushed James Michael Erese and Melwyn Kenneth Baltazar in the Boys under-16 and under-12 division.
In the Girls Section, Shaina Mae Mendoza, Jesca Docena and Jessiel Marino are ahead in the Girls under-16, under-12 and under-10 respectively with three points apiece. Mendoza beat Christina Ann Medenilla, Docena outplayed Regyne Palaming and Marino downed Aelaiza Legazpi.