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Teener Canino clinches National Women’s Chess tourney crown

FROM LEFT Jose Anthony Villanueva, City of Malolos Sports Director, Ncfp President Butch Pichay, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, National Women’s Chess Champ Ruelle Canino, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, NCFP CEO Jayson Gonzales.

WHAT was supposed to be Philippine women chess’ future came rushing straight into the present.

And it came in the 16-year-old wonder teen Ruelle Canino.

Delivering a performance for the ages, Ms. Canino shook the current order and slew some of the country’s giants of the game in conquering the National Women’s Chess Championship in Malolos City, Bulacan over the weekend.

She capped her magnificence with a shock 62-move upset of Woman International Master (WIM) and 2019 national champion Jan Jodilyn Fronda in a usually timid English duel that she made some fireworks from by finding a way to snatch a pawn.

The six-time Asian age group winner then used that advantage to create a two-pawn barrage at the center that Ms. Fronda was forced to stop by sacrificing a bishop.

It turned out to be the beginning of the end for Ms. Fronda, who tried to snatch a draw by trying to force a perpetual check that Ms. Canino effortlessly quashed with a sleek, masterful endgame technique.

It completed a sensational performance by Ms. Canino, who took the tournament by storm when she led in the first eight rounds when she scored seven victories but lost it to Ms. Fronda going into the final round.

Eventually, she snatched it back with a brilliant, last-gasp victory when it mattered.

It was a historic moment for Ms. Canino, who was never given a chance to figure in the top three, much more, win it all.

But she did.

Thanks to her feat, Ms. Canino pocketed the P85,000 top purse courtesy of host Malolos City Mayor Christian Natividad, the lone seat to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Bangkok, Thailand this November and one of three slots to the FIDE World Chess Olympiad in Budapest, Hungary this September along with Ms. Fronda and Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Janelle Mae Frayna.

And a new star is born. — Joey Villar

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