Philippine chess stars

Chess in Philippines grows

Three are a lot of young good chess players emerging in Davao City today as the game continues to enjoy wider acceptance in this part of the country.

Thanks to the man who started it all, a chess genius from Davao City who once gave the Philippines some glorious moments with his exceptional skills — Interational Master Marlo Micayabas.

Except for his fellow players and contemporaries, very few people remember
Micayabas, the 1982 Asian Junior chess champion from Toril, Davao City who took Asian chess by storm during the time of the great American genius Robert “Bobby” Fischer, his idol.

The 45-year-old Micayabas had long since left the country and is now leaving in New Jersey, USA where he works in a bank, but his accomplishments in chess as a youngster will forever be etched in the memory of the Filipino people.

The feat of Micayabas is also something to remember and will serve as an inspiration, especially to the present crop of young chess players in Davao.

Micayabas was only 19 years old then when he captured the Asian Junior crown in Baguio, besting a field of 11, including Greg Hjorth of Australia and fellow Filipino campaigner Angelo Young, the reigning RP junior champion at that time.

Micayabas finished the tournament with seven wins and three draws without a loss, and became an International Master with his triumph.

Before that, Marlo Micayabas was one of the top players in Davao and had beaten many excellent players, including the veteran ones.

Had Marlo opted to pursue his career, he would have been a grandmaster, even ahead of Rogelio “Joey” Antonio.

Marlo Micayabas was born in Toril on May 1, 1963. He is an only child, a Seventh Day Adventist. He was a valedictorian of his class in elementary and high school.

Micayabas first played chess at the age of nine. Being an only child and perhaps out of boredom, Micayabas was immediately addicted to the game, and in 1973 he joined his first tournament in Toril.

Although he failed to win a single match in that event, Micayabas never ceased playing and in three years time he was already winning against the best local players.

Engineer Anselmo “Jun” Atmosfera, a chess player who saw Micayabas grow up and develop into a fine woodpusher, recalls that Micayabas was really beating them even when the former was still young.

“Just three years after he took up the game it was already becoming difficult for us veterans to beat him. He was well-versed in opening theory, middle game and endgame and mature beyond his age,” Atmosfera said in a chess column he wrote and that was published July of 2005 in the Business World.

In 1984, Micayabas was sent by the Philippine Chess Federation (PCF) to Los Angeles, California to compete in the US Open. He never returned home and stayed in American for good where he finished his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering course at the City University of New York.

The chess wizard from Toril married the former Sandra Penningolo of Ligao, Albay and the couple had two children–18-year-old Adrian and 15-year-old Eric.

Micayabas presently works as lead computer programmer at the UBS, a Swiss bank and one of the world’s largest banks in New Jersey, USA.

Micayabas stopped playing chess for 15 years from 1990 to 2005 and only regained his interest in the game after reading Atmosfera’s article in the Business World.

“Marlo’s style is classical like his idol Bobby Fischer,” Atmosfera said.

Miyabas himself has an advice to the young chess players: “Besides studying the games of your favorite players, don’t neglect the study of your own games. Understanding oneself is a key to chess improvement.”

In Toril, a lot of youngsters are taking up chess and the achievement of IM Marlo Micayabas will definitely inspire them to aim for greater heights.

Report: Sun star Davao

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