INDEED, it was the best move that ever seen in Philippine chess.
The Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) made history as their gambit paid off with the approval and acceptance from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) making the group as the first professional chess organization in the country.
GAB Chairman Abraham ‘Baham’ Mitra along with Commissioners Atty. Ed Trinidad and Mar Masanguid signed a resolution on Thursday accepting PCAP as the country’s fourth professional organizations amid the ‘new normal’ due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Just recently, GAB approved the application of Chook-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, National Basketball League (NBL) and its counterpart Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).
“We are proud at GAB that the Philippines will have its 1st Professional Chess League. PCAP is to chess what PBA/NBA is to basketball. Also, PCAP will organize Prof Team Chess League. The Philippines has close to half million chess enthusiasts, worldwide active players are about half billion. We want to place chess players in comparable stature as other professional athletes,” said Mitra during online media conference.
Asia’s first Grandmaster Eugene Torre echoed Mitra’s statement claiming unity in chess community makes things happen and local chess players were benefited most with bigger chances to be discover and develop their talents with sustained financial growth.
“Sa India ginagawa na rin nila ito sa professional level. Pero sa Southeast Asia tayo ang una na may professional chess. Sa Europe matagal nang may pro league yung Bundesliga, kaya sobrang magagaling ang kanilang mga players,” said Torre, one of the resource speakers during press presentation streaming live in Google media at GAB Facebook page.
“Matagal na itong pangarap ng maraming chess player sa Pilipinas kasama na ako, kasa nagpapasalamat at sa GAB at sa PCAP sa pagkakaisang ito,. Kami sa National Chess Federation ay kaisa rin ninyo dito,” he added.
For his part, Grandmaster Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr. said he believed that more top players will come out from the grassroots level with the advent of the country’s first-ever professional chess league.
“This will inspire kids to play chess like the way the PBA inspired kids to play basketball,” said the 13-time National Champion and veteran Olympian. “It will be another motivation for them to get better and aim higher.”
PCAP founding commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria expressed his heartfelt accolades to GAB leadership and claimed that league main mission is providing a new platform for Filipino chess players and give them a steady source of income.
“This is a start of a new era in chess. We want to elevate the status of our chess players and make them level with other professional athletes,” said Elauria.
He said that players must secured a GAB license to be eligible to play. All GAB-licensed players will be included in the PCAP drafting set to schedule this year. The order of the draft will be determined by drawing of lots.
PCAP league will be composed of 32 LGU-based but privately-owned chess teams with a minimum of eight and maximum of 10 players under contract. Each team will field six regular players composed of two rated, one female, one senior and two homegrown.
Players will be given a standard contract with minimum and maximum salaries based on salary caps agreed by all the team owners.
The participating teams will be divided into two conferences: Northern Conference for Luzon-based teams and Southern Conference for Visayas- and Mindanao-based teams.
Already confirming their participation are the Baguio Lion Kings, Bataan Marching Heroes, Bulacan Bloody Bishops, Cagayan Valley Kings, Makati Red Gambits, Manila Noble Knights, Mindoro Golden Tamaraws, Palawan Beach Masters, San Juan City, Pampanga, Pasay, Subic Knightmares and Tarlac Top Guns. Also interested to join are ARMM, Batangas, Bohol, Cavite, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, General Santos, Ilocos, Iloilo, Laguna, Leyte, Misamis, Negros, Pangasinan, Quezon, Rizal, Surigao and Zamboanga.