Virtually and physically new to chess, newly crowned para-chess player Yolanda Pespes hopes to be part of the Philippine national team where she has been named an alternate in the long delayed ASEAN Para-games this July.
“It would be great if I make it to the national team as a regular member and it will be a big help for my family,” said the 44-year old mother of four.
Pespes topped the B1-women category of the 2021 Philippine Sports Commission – Pilipinas Para Games online chess competition on Nov. 21 and 22 last year where she beat Kyla Jane Langue and Abigail Magno, who settled for second and third places, respectively.
Pespes finished in a three way logjam but won via tiebreak. All finished with four points but Pespes had the superior tiebreak points at 13.5, followed by Langue (13) and Magno (11), a former national team.
Pespes told local mediamen at the Public Information Office – Baguio Tuesday that winning last year her category was a blessing and it may bring in more for her table as she now hopes to be part of the regular national para-chess team.
“I’ve been told that one of the players cannot make it, so I was told to be on stand-by,” said the 44-year old masseuse, who now fidgets chess pieces more often on top of giving relief to people with tired and stiff muscles.
Pespes said that playing chess is now a regular part of her daily routine, especially during evenings after a long day of work and travel to La Trinidad, Benguet from their small home at Green Valley.
“Although tired I still get to study moves and better my game,” said Pespes, who first competed in 2019 in Guiginto, Bulacan in a regular chess competition.
By winning her division in the November competition, Pespes was able to pay for the car she bought. Pespes won PhP30,000, while the first and second runners-up got PhP20,000 and PhP10,000, respectively.
“It was good it went to something,” she added as she hopes to be accredited with the city government People with Disability Affairs Office as a para-athlete and hope to get benefits like a coach or make use of city facilities.
PDAO head Samuel Aquino admits that it is still a long way for para-athletes to be given treatments like regular athletes.
“We still do not have coaches trained to help our athletes,” said Aquino as he added that he hopes that after the city’s recognition of Pespes, it would lead to her getting incentives if she get to Malaysia this July and win a medal.
Right now he hopes that Pespes will be recognized by the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled for her to be included in the list of the PSC for inclusion in the list of national para-athletes.
He admitted that several para-archers are also receiving monthly incentive from the PSC.
The winners of the events are: John Fran de Asis of Iloilo in men’s P1 division with 5.5 points when he drew with Eric Abanco in the final round after sweeping the first five rounds.
Abanco settled for second place ahead Jordaine Topaz. Both finished the tournament at five points a piece with Alexis Elinon and Joseph Gregana.
The three will compete against national mainstays FIDE Master Sander Severino and multiple ASEAN and Para Games gold medalist Henry Lopez and Jasper Rom.
Other winners are: Geronimo Torres, Kenneth Namisato and Emmanuel Closa, Jr. (B1-men), Mark Christian Evangelista, Ireneo Melchor Pizarro, Jr. and Abraham Peligro (B2-men), Siena Mae Requiron, Regnia Abogado and Marilou Lucero (B2-women).
The event was held in coordination with the Philippine Paralympic Committee and the Integrated Philippine Association of Optometrists.
“This event is really to give our para chessers a chance to play and show what they got while serving as a platform for us to discover diamonds in the rough,” said national para coach and tournament director James Infiesto.