Freeman Cebu Sports

Jojo Dondon is first Arena FIDE Master from Bantayan Island

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  United States-based Cebuano chess player Engr. Josito “Jojo” Clamor Dondon etched his name in stone as the first Arena FIDE Master from Bantayan Island in northern Cebu.

Dondon, who hails from the municipality of Madridejos where the natives proudly call themselves as Lawisanons, officially earned such grand title after receiving his e-certificate duly signed by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich of Russia just yesterday.

FIDE is the world’s governing body in chess.

“They based my performance in FIDE online rated games. Everyday, there’s a FIDE-rated tourney,” shared Dondon, now based in McAllen, Texas and a member of the United States of America Chess Federation. “But it’s harder to get AFM or AIM title in the new format.”

“This is a very emotional accomplishment for me.  A very elusive quest came unexpectedly through the program of FIDE designed for strong-non titled/non-master players,” Dondon added.

 Before seeking greener pastures in the US nearly two decades ago, Dondon was a revered chess personality in Cebu with multiple titles under his belt.

The top board player of Cebu Institute of Technology (now CIT-U) during his college days, Dondon was Far East Bank and Trust Company (FEBTC) champion twice in Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao back in 1997 and 1993, respectively.

Also in 1997, he finished first runner-up in the Mandaue Chess Open after outsmarting three masters in succession namely NM Richard Bitoon (now a GM), IM Yves Ranola, and NM Carlito Lavega. Bitoon at that time was fresh from a stunning victory over Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre at the National Open in Manila.

Dondon powered PAGCOR Cebu where he once worked to seven straight championships in both the Government Corporation Athletic Association (GCAA) and in Association of Regional and National Executives (ARENA) chess tilts from 1995 to 2001.

The 55-year-old Dondon, a licensed electronics and communications engineer, is also an active member and longtime supporter of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association (CEPCA).

In fact at the height of the pandemic last year, Dondon helped CEPCA in keeping the Cebu chess scene alive and kicking by backing up the club’s weekly online tournaments.

Dondon also takes pride for bringing his winning act to the US with flying colors.

He topped competitions in Las Vegas and St. Louis in 2004. In that same year, he pocketed $10,000 for reigning supreme in the World Open U2000 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Dondon has been a US Candidate Master since 2012, something that he knew of only three years ago.

To become a full-fledged US Master  is among the many goals that Dondon will work on and achieve one day down the road.

“My target is to become a US Master right away after this pandemic when there is over the board tourneys already. Then I have to work also to become an IM or Arena IM. I hope to attain all of these in the future,” Dondon ended.

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