Bacoleño chess player rules Singapore tourney

CHESS CHAMPION. Filipino FIDE Master (FM) Ellan Asuela (second from right) won the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific (KCFAP) Absolute Challenge held from December 23-25, 2022 at the Peace Centre in Singapore. From left are Indonesian International Master (IM) Irwanto Sadikin (3rd place), Filipino IM Eric Labog Jr. (2nd place) and Georgian Grandmaster Zurab Azmaiparashvili. (Contributed photo)

FIDE Master (FM) Ellan Asuela from Bacolod City in the Philippines ruled the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific (KCFAP) Absolute Challenge on Dec. 23-25 at the Peace Centre in Singapore.

Two other Filipinos– International Master (IM) Eric Labog Jr. and FM Nelson Mariano III– placed second and sixth, respectively.

Indonesian IM Irwanto Sadikin finished third followed by compatriots Fernanda Agus Saputra Pribadi (4th), Syarif Mahmud (5th) and Aris TLS (7th), Singaporean Rege Vijay, Indian Adharsh V and Indonesian Kiu Sen.

Asuela earned 2,000 Singapore dollars for the victory while Labog received 1,400 as runner-up.

“It was a strong field considering that there were IMs from the Philippines and Indonesia. But I made a game plan which is to survive the rapid games and standard then secure the blitz games and Armageddon because I have the edge in speed against my opponents,” said the 35-year-old Asuela in an interview on Tuesday.

“I am thankful to the Lord for the blessings and opportunity, to my supportive fiance Carla Fernandez and to Van Lanuza and Rafal Ansay of MindMovers PH for giving me the chance to go and compete in Singapore,” said Asuela, who was born in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental but is now residing in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental.

Asuela is the third among four children of Elmo and Maria Fe, a councilor in Bacolod City. He started playing chess at the age of four.

“My father and uncle taught me. I like chess because it’s complex and more on mathematics, which is my favorite subject,” shared Asuela, who also plays basketball and ping pong (table tennis).

Asuela, who idolizes Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Mark Paragua and Japanese GM Hikaru Nakamura, won the 1st Lumbia Mindanao Open in Cagayan de Oro City last month.

Meanwhile, Labog captured five gold and one silver medals during the 2019 Asean Age Group Chess Championships in Mandalay, Myanmar.

The 20-year-old freshman at the Immaculada Concepcion College in Caloocan City also won the gold medal at the 2019 Palarong Pambansa in Davao City.

Born and raised in Pasig City, Labog is the second among three children of Eric and Fredilyn. He was nine years old when he took up the sport.

“I got interested in chess because I saw how my father and brother enjoyed playing it,” said Labog, who admires Norwegian IM Magnus Carlsen. (PNA)