Eyes on bigger prize: GM Joey Antonio shoots for glory

Eyes on bigger prize: GM Joey Antonio shoots for glory

MANILA, Philippines – On the eve of the PCAP Southern Division Finals that pits the Iloilo Kisela Knights and the Camarines Soaring Eagles for the right to go to the All-Filipino Cup Finals, Grandmaster Joey Antonio — the lead player for the former — waxed sentimental.

After more than 30 years playing chess, Antonio looked back and realized that there is still a lot more that he would like to accomplish.

“Gusto ko pa mabigyan ng karangalan ang bansa natin sa mga World Championships at mga malaking kompetisyon,” said the affable Grandmaster, who calls Manila home. “Masarap din makasama sa pagbigay ng titulo para sa Pilipinas.

And yet, it seems that ever since Antonio was a youngster, he has had this unshakeable belief in the sport.

His father scoffed at that game and would derisively dismiss the chess board as something not worth his while because it cannot put food on the table. Although he sold newspapers and food along the streets of Sta. Mesa where he grew up, Antonio never forget to constantly learn the game.

“Ang chess ay naging daan ko para makatulong sa pamilya ko at ngayon (pandemic) ay makapagbigay kahit konti sa mahihirap.”

When Antonio won his first trophy, he gave the prize to his father along with the money that came along with it. Still, the father downplayed the feat and reminded him that trophies cannot be cooked.

“You have to look at the practical benefits of chess,” enthused the 13-time national champion and 10-time chess Olympian. “Being good at the game can give you a scholarship to high school and college. Think of the money that it will save your parents. And there are the opportunities to play and coach for a livelihood. Now that PCAP is here, game changer ito for the Philippine chess landscape.”

“But eventually, I did see the pride in my father’s eyes as I got better at the sport and moved up,” added the grandmaster.

With the PCAP and the Iloilo Kisela Knights, GM Antonio feels reborn. The fire in his eyes is back and he feels the blood pumping.

Prior to PCAP, GM Antonio was playing a lot of online chess matches earning him the moniker “the ironman of online chess” by chess.com.

He thinks the tag is cool, but what concerns him more is giving glory to his family, country, and now, his PCAP team.

“Marami na tayong narinig na may plano for chess kaliwa’t kanan, pero nung magsimula yung drafting tapos magsimula yung liga, heto na,” he related. “Marami tayong sinasalihan na laro sa labas ng bansa pero hetong PCAP ay sariling atin. Malaking bagay ito sa paglago ng chess.”

Playing alongside his younger teammates, he is happy to dispense advice to the young.

“Kung matuturuan ka ng pasensya at bilis ng pagiisip at diskarte sa chess, ay malaking tulong iyan sa personal na buhay. Malaking tulong siya sa buhay ko so ngayon, it’s about giving back.”

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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