SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur— A chess whiz kid at 9 in Trento town this province is seen to be another Wesley So in the making.
Gabriel Givero, a Grade 3 Pupil of Trento West Central Elementary SPED Center, recently won as champion in the blitz competition in a matter of five minutes and three seconds in the 1st Mayor Seth Frederick Jalosjos National Youth and Schools Chess Championship on September 16-24 in Dapitan City.
He won eight of nine games of the competition while the second placer followed behind with 6.5 wins in nine games.
He also placed fourth in the standard chess competition but had the same number of seven wins out of 10 board games by the second and third place only to be outpointed by the quotient system, a rare feat for a neophyte player at his tender age.
Raffy Pagkaliwagan, trainer coach of Givero, said he is confident that the boy could become a national champion at 12, almost the same goal achieved by Wesley in his rise to fame in chess.
At 14, So became the youngest Filipino ever to earn the title of grandmaster, the highest status conferred by the country’s chess governing body.
Like Gabriel, So was nine years old when started competing in junior tournaments and became champion in the 2003 Philippine National Chess Championships in the Under 10 section.
Pagkaliwagan, however, said they will not allow Gabriel would experience the same sad fate as Wesley that went to represent the United States in 2019 because of the lack of support from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).
“What happened to Wesley was a lesson learned. NCFP assured us this will not happen to Gabriel who saw his great potential when he becomes professional in the years ahead,” the trainer, who is a licensed national chess arbiter, said.
Givero said he started to become interested in chess when he was 2. He said he became curious while watching tournaments on YouTube that he tried playing with a computer-generated opponent to hone his skills.
At 5, Gabriel started playing chess tournaments at school when he was in Kindergarten II. He went further to join tournaments outside school and became champion at 8.
“I saw the brilliant moves of Wesley and I studied hard how he did it,” Gabriel said.
His mother Rachel Givero, a Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health teacher at Trento National High School, recalled she saw his son playing chess at 2.5 years old with a computer prompting her to buy him a magnetic chess board.
She believed Gabriel is a gifted child since she noticed his fast cognitive development when he was only five days old.
Gabriel can draw the main features of the world map and has a deep interest in astronomy, his mother said.
Rachel said classical music was Gabriel’s lullaby when he was an infant and this had helped in his mental conditioning.
“He needs proper development guidance from a psychologist as a preparation when he will level up his competition,” the mother said.
“Our goal is to make him a young chess grandmaster at the right time,” Rachel said.