How Kevin Arquero nearly quit chess and came back to help Pasig to a PCAP championship

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
How Kevin Arquero nearly quit chess and came back to help Pasig to a PCAP championship
Kevin Arquero

MANILA, Philippines -- Sometimes, you just have to be reminded that it is not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up.

For the Pasig King Pirates’ Kevin Arquero, he thought about quitting the game of chess. After two consecutive setbacks in last year’s Open Conference and this year’s All-Filipino, the thought crossed his mind especially after San Juan blanked him in their Northern Division finals.

“Naisip ko na huwag muna siguro maglaro,” said the 26-year old Arquero, who as a homegrown player for Pasig, calls Barangay Sta. Lucia home. “Frustrated ba.”

“Nung past conferences, solid kami kasi nandyan pa si GM Darwin Laylo. Malakas one and two boards namin at senior and lady boards. Sa homegrown meron slight advantage kasi batak kami sa time control. Kaso natalo.”

The saving grace for Arquero were his coaches and teammates. 

“Dito sa team namin, walang sisihan. Malaking bagay yung sasabihin nila, bawi tayo. Diyan ako nakakuha ng lakas ng loob bumalik sa laro.”

And Arquero was crucial in Pasig taking down mighty San Juan in the Northern Division finals and then the Iloilo Kisela Knights during the Grand Finals of the Wesley So Cup, the second of three annual conferences of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP). 

“Unexpected yung tournament win na ito. Blessed kami kasi sobrang lakas ng ibang teams. Kung gusto mo mag-champion sa PCAP, kailangan mo dumaan sa San Juan at sa Iloilo.  

In the Grand Finals against the Kisela Knights, the King Pirates took the first set, 12.5-8.5 with Arquero netting the three full points from blitz and rapid chess.

Set Two was another matter as Iloilo routed Pasig, 15.5-5.5. 

Kevin was blanked this time by Iloilo’s Fritz Bryan Porras and Rolly Parondo Jr. 

The doubts resurfaced.

“Heto na naman,” thought Arquero to himself. “Baka matalo kami ulit kasi malakas talaga ang Iloilo.”

However, in a stroke of utmost confidence, Pasig head coach Franco Camillo tapped Arquero to join Eric Labog Jr. and GM Mark Paragua to battle Karl Viktor Ochoa, GM Joey Antonio, and GM Hovhanes Gabuzyan, respectively, in Armageddon.

Gabuzyan defeated Paragua, but luckily for Arquero, he was able to beat back Ochoa to tie the match. Now it was up to Labog to pull the rabbit out of the hat. And he did just that when he defeated GM Antonio.

Pasig were finally champions.

“Kahit gusto mo mag-champion, dahil sa past failures, unexpected pa rin ito,” Arquero thought as a joyous King Pirates team meet on zoom post-match to celebrate.

“Wala naman nag-iyakan,” he asserted with a laugh.

“Just as always, they went back to congratulating and complimenting each other. 

Isn’t Kevin Arquero glad he did not decide to quit?

“Tama sabi nila. Sports is life and marami ka matututunan sa sports.”

Such as falling down and failing. And getting right back up and succeeding.

Kevin Arquero’s story is also the story of the Pasig King Pirates.


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