“I started playing chess when I was 4. My father taught me how to play. My first win was when I was 5. I’m 21 now, so I’ve been rolling for 17 years. Obviously my life revolves around chess.”
“I could have taken Psychology. It’s the closest thing to being a chess player – you know, you read other people’s minds. But someone once told me it will drive you mad. I believed it and so I took Multimedia and Web Development instead. Now I think it was a crazy idea – what I was told.”
“I have two tournaments coming this March and April. Hopefully, I could nail it so I can be a Grandmaster. It’s the highest honor a chess player can earn.”
If you were not a chess player, what would you be?
“A member of the Armed Forces. But I think I can never be one because I’m strictly vegetarian. You cannot possibly go to the field with just leaves on your stomach. Well, being a complete vegetarian is part of the Yoga lifestyle that my family practices. So I guess that leaves me no other choice but to go back to chess.”
What places have you been to on account of your being a chess player?
“The US, Russia, India, China, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam. The most memorable was Russia because it was snowing when we landed. Well, I almost reached Europe. I was set to compete in Greece but was unable to go because I wasn’t able to raise enough amount of money to cover my expenses.”
What is that one thing you learn – or learned – from playing chess?
“Two things, actually. Decision-making and sacrifice. When you decide, it has to be right. It’s nuts, but that’s the way it is. You must consider everything that surrounds whatever it is that you’re deciding on – every single detail. One wrong move and you’re done. It can blow up in your face before you would even know it. As for sacrifice, we have to learn that, at some point in our lives, sacrifices must be made in order for us to survive and make it to the end.”
Photo by DONALD RENTIQUIANO
Interview & Text by RONA LIN