Paulo Bersamina chasing Grandmaster title

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Paulo Bersamina chasing Grandmaster title
Paulo Bersamina

MANILA, Philippines — Like any other chess player, the goal for Paulo Bersamina is to gain the title of Grandmaster.

“Lahat naman ng chess player iyan ang goal,” the 23-year old International Master said. “But I would like to do it for two more reasons – one matagal-tagal na ang Pilipinas nagkaroon ng Grandmaster – since 2011. Sampung taon na.”

The last Filipino male chess player to attain the title is Richard Bitoon.

The last Filipino, however, to attain the title is Janelle Frayna who was conferred Woman Grandmaster in 2017 becoming the Philippines’ first such titlist. 

“Yung pangalawa, ay para sa father ko na si Norlito who was a chess varsity player for Mapua.”

It was Paulo’s father who pushed his children to play chess. “I am also doing this to honor him,” proclaimed the young Bersamina.

However, like any other kid, Paulo tried his hand in other sports.

“Tried lang but I wasn't very good at basketball or even swimming,” laughed the bespectacled Bersamina. “Siguro kung hindi pa ako nananalo sa chess nung mga seven or eight years old ako baka nasubukan ko pa yung ibang sports.”

Basketball and swimming’s loss is chess’ gain.

Bersamina attained his IM title when he was 16 years old during an Asean competition in Macau and he went on to become a four-time UAAP Most Valuable Player in chess while competing for National University.

Since then, the pursuit is for that elusive GM title.

“To be able to get that title, I and others need to participate in a lot of Fide-sanctioned tournaments that also involve Grandmasters. Kaso our region doesn’t have any Fide-rated tournaments since the pandemic,” related Bersamina.  

Most recently, Bersamina competed in the Fide World Cup 2021 but was unable to get those wins that would help him attain the 2500 rating that comes with the title. 

“There are tournaments in China and Europe but it is very expensive since you have to stay there for some time and just compete,” pointed out Paulo. “Before the pandemic, plan namin ni IM Jem Garcia (his teammate in the Caloocan LoadManna Knights that competes in the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines) was to play in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia but the pandemic happened.”

“If there are tournaments in Southeast Asia, I can afford to go, but not farther like Europe which has already opened up in competition.”

If we can find a sponsor, that would help,” summed up Paulo. “If I am able to do this, hopefully, it will also push our other talented kababayans to also try and get that GM title. It can only help Philippine chess.”

In the meantime, Bersamina is hoping that along with his teammates in the Caloocan LoadManna Knights can get over the hump and bag the season-ending third conference of PCAP that kicks off this September 15.


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