Chess players welcome the formation of a professional league that its founders hope will provide steady income and a bright future for full-time aficionados.
I have no idea where they got the inspiration, but the closest I could think of would be the Chess Bundesliga, Germany’s premier league established in 1980.
But unlike the newly-formed Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP), Bundesliga is open to players of all ages and nationalities.
A number of Filipino players, in fact, have taken part in the league usually held between October and April.
Since the PCAP sought the approval and sanction of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), players are required to secure GAB licenses.
Are minors eligible to get GAB licenses? It’s hard to answer the question since for the longest time, chess players do not need GAB licenses to ply their trade.
Apparently to skirt the issue, the PCAP did not include junior players as one of the categories in the composition of the team.
The six-man squad only requires two masters, a female and senior player and a pair of homegrown talents.
The PCAP, under Commissioner Paul Elauria, offered little details except to say that a draft is set to be held next month and the target opening date is next year.
Twelve teams, all of them local government units, have reportedly joined the league.
Since obviously the tournament mechanics are still being drafted, the PCAP will hopefully address the issue of players’ compensation and its relationship with the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).
Will players be signed into long-term contracts just like in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)? Or will it just be a one-tournament deal?
Following the PBA example, will players be restricted to compete in other tournaments outside the PCAP?
Will PCAP under the umbrella of the NCFP or will go the way of the defunct Professional Chess Association (PCA)?
To the uninitiated, the PCA was formed in 1993 by Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short who broke away from FIDE, the world’s governing body, to organize their own world championship series.
The PCA folded up three years later after losing its sponsors and its members reconciling with FIDE.
Then there is the issue of players getting monthly allowances from the Philippine Sports Commission.
If they turn pro and secure GAB licenses, will they lose their membership in the national pool?
A tricky chess puzzle indeed, but we pray we can find the right solution.