By Frank ‘Boy’ Pestaño


Thursday, December 23, 2010

DURING the Cepca Christmas party, induction of new officers and chess tournament two weeks ago, I met an interesting girl chess player who joined our tourney with her brothers.

She aspires to be a journalist when she grows up.

Her name is Keith Claire Carlisle Morala, and she is only 13 years old, born on Jan. 17, 1997.

Her parents are Maria Leselda and Jose Hazil Morala. Her brothers are George Baldwin and Kirk Patrick.

She plays on Board 1 of the USJR chess team (girls) and has been playing chess since 4th grade.

She first learned how to properly write sports news under Charlie Abalos during 6th grade and got the first place on first Division Press Conference held in Labangon Elementary School.

Here is an example of her writing prowess. This article is about the recently-concluded Rose Pharmacy Christmas tournament.

“A clash of the brains among Cebu’s chess aficionados was showcased in the Rose Pharmacy Inc. Open Chess Tournament held at the Colonnade Mall from Dec. 19-20, 2010.

On top of the list, with his 6.5 points, carting away the top purse of P7,000 is Richard Natividad. Following him are Merben Roque and Kim Steven Yap with 6 points apiece, tailed by Francisco Abugho, Nic Cuizon, Voltaire Sevillano, Jessa Balbona and Alfer Fernandez with 5.5 points each.

Many unexpected events happened during the tournament. First off, IM Yap disappointed his fans after being sidelined by Abugho on the first round, but he made up after making it to the top three.

Then, Kyle Sevillano of USC, the child wonder of Cebu, was seemingly stunned by KeithClaire Carlisle Morala of USJR in a French opening with the Advance variation, with the latter constantly finding a possible attack on the Queen side. It was until she launched a full-force attack on the King side after spotting a weakness in the black’s formation, later resulting into two connected center pass pawns, which won the game for white.

The young, promising players did not also give up easily, giving a hard time to the Colonnade mainstays with the likes of Ababat, Banibane, Flores, Alidani, Loyola and many other seasoned players.

Leading the youngsters were Jessa Balbona of USJR with 5.5 points making it to the top eight, followed by Felix Shaun Balbona, with 5 points, and Fiel Yves with 4.5 points.

Some of the representatives of Central Visayas in the Palarong Pambansa 2011 were there, too: Alan Pason, Diego Claro, Kyle Sevillano, John Francis Balbona, KC Morala, and Vic Glysen Derotas.

This annual event was sponsored by Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy Inc. This year, the tournament was attended by 74 players.

Nicely written, indeed, and coming from a 13-year-old girl is really something!

Kimkim and Merben International Master Kimkim Yap (22,2410) and National Master Merben Roque (30,2305) leave today to participate in the Asean Chess Championship in Singapore on Dec. 25-31.

From Singapore, they will proceed to the Vietnam International Open on Jan. 3-11.

Kimkim is seeking a GM norm, while Merben is seeking an IM norm. They will also try to improve their Fide Ratings.

Their trip is sponsored by Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy and lawyer Gus Go of the University of Cebu.

Also supporting their trip is the Cebu City Sports Commission.

Both players are expected to be back home in time for another chess tournament of Boojie Lim next year on Jan. 15-17.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 24, 2010.