WHILE most sports around the world are forced to shut down due to pandemic of the deadly coronavirus disease, chess continued to thrive in the last few months.
Most players — professionals and amateurs — have turned to online chess with a lot of success.
Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre and newly-crowned Asian Seniors online chess champion Rogelio Antonio, Jr., best is yet to come for the Filipino players.
“This is good for chess. Tuloy-tuloy lang ang chess kahit ngayong panahon na may pandemic,” said Torre during the 4th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom on Thursday.
Torre admitted that moving chess pieces on the computer may be different from actual over-the-board competitions, but talent and strategy will still prevailed in the sport.
“May konting variation lang siguro ‘yun gagamit ka ng laptops at internet para makapag-laro, pero ganun din. You still need to study hard and play hard to excel in chess,” explained Torre in the weekly sports forum sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“Online chess is basically the same game that we play. When other were halted in March because of the pandemic, mas madami ang naglalaro ngayon ng online chess.”
But the 68-year-old Torre, who will serve as head coach of the 12-player Philippine team to the first FIDE Online Olympiad, said players –both young and old – still need to remain mentally and physically fit to remain competitive.
“Sa chess, you don’t only have to be mentally prepared, but also physically fit. Siguro idagdag na rin natin yun pangatlo — yun pagiging spiritually ready,” added Torre, who regularly walks for hours around his subdivision in Quezon City during the pandemic.
Antonio, nicknamed “Ironman” of online chess for having played thousands of games on his laptop, said it is not difficult to adjust from playing chess over the board to online on laptop chessboards.
“Mas madali nga sumali sa mga online chess tournaments. You don’t have to worry about other things, like travel and hotel accommodations,” said Antonio, who topped the 2020 Asian Seniors online chess tournament recently.
Torre also said there is no need to rush and play chess over the board, especially with the pandemic raging all over the country.
“Sa chess, yun ang mga tinatawag na risky moves. Mahirap pa maglaro ng chess ngayon, lalo na mataas pa ang mga kaso ng mga nagkakaroon ng sakit,” explained Torre. “Hintayin na lang muna natin ang go-signal ng gobyerno kung ligtas na. Sa ngayon, mag online chess muna.”