By Frank ‘Boy’ Pestaño


Thursday, December 30, 2010

TWO of the six men arrested for playing chess in Inwood Hill Park last October refused a plea deal from a Manhattan Criminal Court and want to take their case to trial.

The chessmen turned down the deal even though they face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000-fine.”They want to go to trial,” said their lawyer, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel. “They feel the charges against them should be dismissed outright.”

Yacahudah Y.A. Harrison and Chris Peralta were part of the group ticketed on Oct. 20 for playing chess at tables inside Emerson Playground, a children’s play area off limits to adults unaccompanied by minors.

The other three of the six men were given adjournments in contemplation of dismissals yesterday morning—meaning if they stay out of trouble from the law for six months, the matter will be dropped. The sixth was a no-show.

News of the arrests created a worldwide uproar with residents expressing outrage.

They were arrested by bulletproof vest -clad cops, causing an observer to comment that the cops were afraid that the chess players will throw “poison pawns” at them.

The group—two of whom had been playing there for years—was ticketed for “failure to comply with signs.” There was a posted notice beside them that read, “Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12.”

Most of the men said they had not noticed the signs. Harrison, 49, told The Post he had seen the sign but had permission from a park ranger to play there.

“The ranger said, ‘Oh no, that’s fine. That’s only written for pedophiles,’” Harrison said.

ROSE CHESS. Keith Claire Carlisle Morala, a 13-year-old aspiring sports journalist and chess player, sent me this report about the ladies and kiddies tournament held last Monday at SM Deep Blue.

“On top of the list and taking away the grand trophy was Jessa Balbona, who scored five points in the five-round event. Finishing behind her were Maria Cecile Lumapac and Sharon Princess Lee Pacres with four points apiece.

Balbona found her game with Airene Robillos to be the toughest one to win. It was a Sicilian Dragon Variation, with Robillos using white. The latter was supposed to have an advantage in the position, but because of time pressure, she lost hold of the
advantage and black won the game.

The tournament was attended by female players from the different parts of Cebu.

Unmindful of the frostiness of the SM atmosphere, the players took each match as seriously as they could.

Kyle Sevillano also emerged champion with seven points in seven rounds, winning P1,000 and a trophy. Ten-year-old James Andrew Balbona, with 6 points, took second place and P500, while Diego Abraham Claro and Felix Shaun Balbona got third with 5.5 points each.

The mall was freezing cold yet the intense heat among the players soared as the tournament went underway.

The youngest sibling of the well-known Balbona family, James Andrew, achieved an astounding feat after he vanquished 2011 Palarong Pambansa-bound Alan Pason in the sixth round. The game was headed for a draw, but Pason lost on time forfeit.

Diego Claro, another Palarong Pambansa competitor, also had a good showing after drawing with Felix Shaun Balbona and beating Marq Gabrielle Balbona.

Gayl Bontes of UC assisted Keith Claire by taking notes.

The tournament was sponsored by Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy.”


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 31, 2010.