LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Another Wesley So is in the making as a young Filipino chess player emerged as the overall champion in his division in the recently concluded Las Vegas International Chess Festival. At age six, Stephen Rome Pangilinan of Milo Checkmate Philippines, bested other competitors in the Susan Polgar under eightyear-old division. He won first place after garnering a total of 5 points. Pangilinan was among the 36 other players from around the globe who participated in the June 4 to 7 competition held at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa. When asked why he became triumphant, he said: “Kasi po ginamit ko yung pamatay kong opening.”The young chess player added that he dreams of playing against “People’s Champ” Manny Pacquiao when he gets back to the country. The youngster is expected to return home on June 13. He will then prepare for his next tournament in Melbourne, Australia this November.
Pangilinan’s coach Milagros Emparado said that while the prize money his ward won was not that much, the honor given by the young chess player to the Philippines is enough. With hard work and determination, Pangilinan may turn out to become the next Wesley So, who reached grandmaster status at the age of 14 and became the seventh youngest person to achieve the GM title in the history of chess.
Meanwhile, aside from Pangilinan, another Filipino triumphed in the Las Vegas chess festival. International Master Enrico “Ikong” Sevillano tied for first place with Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian at the 2009 National Open Chess Championship.
Sevillano and Akobian finished with five points. With a report from Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN News North America Bureau.