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UNC, USI chess aces shine at ‘Palaro 2023’

By Jason B. Neola

GRADE 6 pupil Aeiona Lou T. Mendoza of the University of Nueva Caceres and Universidad de Sta. Isabel’s Grade 5 pupil Airrah Andie Q. Garcia along with their co-players in the chess team (elementary girls category) have triumphantly won the championship trophy for Naga City during the Modified Palarong Bicol conducted last April 24-28, this year.

Aeiona, daughter of Joseph and Jimilou Mendoza, and Airrah, daughter of Fernando and Aireen Garcia, also emerged as winners after besting out all the contestants from different cities and provinces in the Bicol Region who vied in the competition.

CHAMPS Elementary pupils 12-year-old Aeiona Lou T. Mendoza (left) of the University of Nueva Caceres and 11-year-old Airrah Andie Q. Garcia of the Universidad de Sta. Isabel show off the trophy they got as champions in the chess competition (elementary girls) conducted during the 5-day Modified Palarong Bicol 2023 in Naga City.

Their team was also declared No. 1 in “blitz chess” or speed chess, a type of chess game that emphasizes quick moves and counter-moves versus well-thought out strategies.

Aeiona’s mother, Jimilou, who also used to win chess competitions when she was in elementary and high school like her husband Joseph, said that her daughter began playing chess when she was still in kindergarten. When Aeiona was a Grade 1 pupil, she had her first taste of winning in chess when she represented her school in the 2017 city meet. Joseph and Jimilou’s respective families were acknowledged ace chess players in Batangas, their home province.

Up-and-coming chess prodigy Airrah Garcia, on the other hand, has only been playing chess for less than 6 months after watching her father Andy play casually with neighbors. “I was just enjoying watching my dad playing chess with our neighbors and his friends when I found chess to be very interesting,” she said. In a short span of time, this charming little girl bested other students from her school, even those much older than her. Fellow chess players and coaches describe Airrah’s playing technique to be quite aggressive and unflinching.


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