Catherine Secopito

Inspired by the popular Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit,” Palawan has fielded in an all-female team in the fledgling Professional Chess Association of the Philippines, which debuts on Jan. 12, 2021.

World Chess Olympiad veterans Shania Mae Mendoza, Catherine Secopito, Marie Antoinette San Diego and Cecilia Cuizon will spearhead the squad that will be aptly named Palawan Queen’s Gambit.

The other members of the squad, which will be managed and coached by Susan Neri, are Mikee Charlene Suede, Carmelites Abanes and homegrown talents Marife dela Torre, Yanika Eli Seratubias and Jesibel Maberit.

Shania Mae Mendoza

“In choosing to field in an all-female team, we will garner more interest from Filipinas to play chess,” said team owner Jojo Mitra, whose brother Abraham is Games and Amusements Board chair.

Neri agrees.

“Chess is not just for men. It’s time women play and show that all’s fair in the game,” she said.

The miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit” is based on Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same title detailing the life of an orphaned female chess prodigy Beth Harmon on her rise to the top during the mid-1950s to the 60s.

True to its goal, Palawan passed on picking the cream of the crop of Philippine chess during the first ever PCAP draft over the weekend.

Nine of the 96 drafted by 24 participating squads are Grandmasters Eugene Torre (Rizal), Joey Antonio (Iloilo), Julio Catalino Sadorra (Manila), Mark Paragua (Camarines), John Paul Gomez (Cabuyao), Darwin Laylo (Pasig), Banjo Barcenilla (Cabuyao), Oliver Barbosa (San Juan) and Roland Salvador (Pasig).

Mitra has a firm belief his team will leave a lasting impression.

“We know the Queen’s always have the last say,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (