Albay boy, 9, wins int’l chess tilt in Thailand
LIGAO CITY—Nine-year-old Bince Rafael Operiano will soon come back to his hometown of Oas in Albay province with great pride as the champion of the recently concluded international chess competition Eastern Asia Youth Championship Standard Rapid Blitz (U-10) held in Bangkok, Thailand.
Operiano, a Grade 3 pupil in his town’s San Isidro Elementary School and a resident of Busac village, dominated the competition involving 29 contenders from different countries, advancing through the nine rounds and finally bagging the gold medal on Saturday.
“We are very proud of his achievement, the glory is not just for us but for the country,” Bince’s mother, Rosemary Roblico Operiano, 33, told the Inquirer in a chat message on Sunday.
Learned from dad
Rosemary said joining the competition was tough and full of challenges due to their financial situation since Bince’s father, Ben, a security guard, is the family’s lone breadwinner.
She said they were almost unable to send Bince to Thailand because of lack of funds.
“We don’t have enough money to meet the needs of my son during the competition. In fact, we sourced out funds by soliciting from friends and local officials,” she said.
She said the worst experience they encountered was that their son almost had to go on his flight without his 33-year-old father because their budget was not enough for another plane ticket.
“[But] help poured to us via electronic cash transfer after I shared through social media the situation of my husband and my son who’s really determined to win when he learned that his father will be watching the games,” she said.
Ben taught his son how to play chess when he was 5 years old. Playing chess became their father-son bonding and entertainment in a home that does not have a television set and any electronic gadget.
Prior to joining the international chess competition, Bince has been a consistent winner in local chess tilts.
“My son started competing even without proper training and coach when he was still 6 years old and the first competition was at Albay Astrodome [in Legazpi City] under 8 boy category where he was declared the champion in 2020,” Rosemary recalled.
Way to championships
Rosemary said Bince received help from different people that allowed him to join and win various competitions.
In 2021, Bince met Sonia Frayna, mother of the lone Filipina chess grandmaster Janelle Mae who studies at Divine Word College of Legazpi (high school campus) where Ben works. Frayna paved the way for Bince to join the tournament of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines that same year.
—MICHAEL JAUCIAN INQ
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