Friday, September 26, 2008

Philippine and far eastern chess: the place they deserved to be in

A common sights in the streets of Manila

Two days ago, I wrote a short, bite-sized post regarding GM Torre's citation on an UK online newspaper, the This time, one of web's most popular chess site, also join in recognition of our hero's recent success. And that is very nice of them. Because it maybe the first time in a long, long time outside his native country that he receives such accolades. Paying tribute to a revered Filipino hero and legend that seems to be completely forgotten is a total breath of fresh air. Not much is being told about chess in the far east for decades now, much about Philippine chess where it is a national pass time. But it is already the age of the internet. There are only two recognizable chess figures in this country at the moment and that is GM's Wesley So and Eugene Torre though it is So who is obviously the more celebrated of the two when it comes to global chess awareness and perhaps responsible for bringing everyone, even Torre back to world chess map. What a heavy load this 14 year old boy is already carrying on his shoulders. Speaking of So heck, some of Wesley's fans (or not), even go beyond of prematurely comparing him to marvelous Magnus Carlsen of Norway and the so called comparison eventually triggered many petty squabbles. I'm not sure about this but after WGM Susan Polgar announced in her blog that Wesley So will be competing in SPICE Cup next year, it creates a wide "disturbance" from the readers of her blog that Susan eventually enable the comment moderation on her blog a day after the post appeared! The irony here is that a small number of unruly Filipinos usually react violently, almost hysterically everytime a foreigners criticized them even if these Pinoys are the ones who started the issues. But not in this case. Although I have to admit that it really did hurt me, more than angered me, every time I read or heard in various popular chess forum and comment box that the Philippines doesn't boast any great chess players in history (okay, we know that, but please don't go far from that) to deserved media attention in the west, Filipinos are pound for pound, one of the most passionate followers of the game. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are playing chess. You see them on the streets, prisons, barber shops, clubs, schools and lately, online. Check out any popular online chess sites that offers free membership (we love freebies folks!) and you will see that the Philippines always occupied the top five slots of countries who were playing chess on the web. That said, I hope that someday Philippine and far eastern chess would received more recognition it deserved to the point that I won't need anymore to keep a stress causing blog like our ChessHeroes.

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