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Apayao lady chess master starts bid in world junior chess championships

BOARD MASTER. National Master Mhage Sebastianflew to Sardina, Italy Monday for the World Junior Chess Championships on October 10-24 to represent the country in the girl’s side. FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri will be the Philippine bet in the open side of the Under 20. The two won the national chess championship in December last year. Sebastian with dad Jerzon at the NAIA. Photo from Jerzon Sebastian’s Facebook Page

Apayao’s wunderkind Mhage Gerriahlou Sebastian and her counterpart from the Visayas, Alekhine Nouri left Monday for Sardinia, Italy for their separate bids for the World Junior Chess Championships that will run until October 24.

The bids of the two in the Under 20 category officially starts Wednesday, October 13 here, with Nouri ranks 80th of 24 entries in the boys side and with Russian Andrey Edipenko as the top rated with Elo rating of 2668.

Twelve other GMs aside from Esipenko will be seeing action in the boys side which also have a lone female GM, Woman GM Zhu Jiner (Elo 2484) from China.

Sebastian will be among the 69 girls seeing in the distaff side where she is ranked 45th with her Elo rating of 1865.

Bulgarian International Master Nurgyui Salimova (Elo 2415) leads the packwith Kazakhstan’s Women IM Meruet Kamalidenova rated second with her Elo rating of 2376, just two off on Aremnian IM Mariam Mkrtchyan.

The event at Cala Gonone will be an 11 round Swiss System. 

The two young chess talents earned the ticket to the world championships after ruling the National Juniors Chess Championships held in Quezon City early December last year.

“Thanking God for this wonderful favor. It is indeed a privilege and a rare chance to be the lone representative of the Philippines not only in the ASEAN and ASIAN but also now in the WORLD chess stage,…” wrote Sebastian’s father Jerzon, an employee of the municipal government of Flora, Apayao who recently passed the Bar exams, in Filipino, in his Facebook page.

He added: “At sa lahat ng mga tumulong at magpapaabot pa ng suporta para sa kampanyang ito, kami’y taos-pusong nagpapasalamat (To all those who helped and those who would still want to help, e are very thankful). This kind of competition takes much of our time, energy and resources and we thank you for believing, thank you for joining us in this journey.”

The older Sebastian, who was Mhage’s original mentor, told this writer: “Even considering the strength or level of this tournament, as parents, we are praying that Mhage performs very well and shall reign supreme and hold very high the banner of Apayao and the Philippines.”

The Grade 12 Sebastian will be flying with head coach Susan Neri and NM Marlon Bernardino, the assistant coach and a contributor to national papers on chess.

Far Eastern University – Diliman wrote a post on Facebook, wishing Sebastian the best: “The Tamaraw community is rooting for your win. We are proud of you, Mhage!”

The young Sebastian, who was named by the Media for Sports Development as chess player of the year, lost in the sixth round of the 2021 nationals to the youngest player, 13-year old Ruelle “Tawing” Canino, but bounced back uint he last three rounds for 7.5 points and the title along with Nouri, who had seven points. 

The win, FEU men;s team coach and national coach Jayson Gonzales, a Grand Master, earned them slots to both the Asian and World championships. The Asian Championships is expected to be played in Bangkok, Thailand on a date yet to be announced. Pigeon Lobien

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