MANILA - Gllasea Ann Hilario takes pride in winning the Under-10 category of the National Age Group Chess Championships (NAGCC) held at the Robinsons Place in Malolos, Bulacan from July 19 to 24.
Aside from the trophy and certificate, she gained one norm in the competition to complete the three-norm requirement for a Woman National Master (WNM) title.
"I am glad I was able to perform well in the tournament and become a National Master," said Gllasea Ann, who earned two WNM norms at the National Youth and Schools Chess Championships (NYSCC) Tornelo online tournament conducted from June 10-13, 2021.
Both the NAGCC and the NYSCC are annual tournaments organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.
Last week, Gllasea Ann placed third in the Blitz event and sixth in the Standard event of the Under-11 category at the NYSCC in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.
She learned how to play chess at the age of four. Her first tournament was the Pangasinan Chess Festival in Lingayen City. She finished with three wins, one draw and three losses.
"My brother Allan Gabriel encouraged me to play chess. He is my partner, trainer and coach," said the 10-year-old Gllasea Ann, a Grade 5 student at Legarda Elementary School in Manila.
Allan Gabriel, 15, is a member of the Arellano University chess team seeing action in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The 2019 Philippine Sports Commission-Batang Pinoy National Finals champion in Blitz chess learned the rudiments of the game from his father, Allan.
"I taught my son the basic moves and simple way of playing without deep learning like tactics and opening. I understand chess but I am not a chess player," shared Allan, who works as administration officer at the Department of Education Schools Division Office in Manila.
"I let him watch video lessons on chess to improve his knowledge and he began representing his school in various tournaments. That was also the time he started teaching Gllasea Ann and made her a sparring partner," he said.
In 2018, the Hilario family moved from Pulilan, Bulacan to Manila. Gllasea Ann was in Grade 1 while Allan Gabriel was in Grade 7.
"I see their passion in playing chess. We fully support them so we decided to live here in Manila. For my son, there is the opportunity to become a varsity chess player which he can use to study in college. The same thing with Gllasea Ann, although she's still in elementary but in high school, she can also play for the varsity team," Allan said.
"It was not intentional that my children became focused in chess. We have a chess board at home and one day, they just curiously want to learn and play," he recalled.
He continued: "For their small built, chess is okay, not physical but a mind game. It's a big help in their academics. Gllasea Ann maintains her good grades."
Gllasea Ann belongs to the Gifted and Talented section. She was Second Honor in Grades 1 and 2 and With High Honor in Grades 3 and 4.
She admires Janelle Mae Frayna, the country's first Woman Grand Master, and world champion GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
Her daily training begins in the afternoon after all her school assignments are done. She watches fairytale stories and answers chess puzzles in her free time.
While Gllasea Ann is determined to succeed as a chess player, her ambition is to become a teacher.
"Although chess is not everlasting, I'll make sure that my children finish college so they will have a stable job for their future," Allan said.
Meanwhile, Gllasea Ann and her brother are scheduled to compete in the Batang Pinoy National Finals set Dec. 4-11 in Vigan, Ilocus Sur. (PNA)