March 23, 2023

Apayao’s chess prodigy Mhage Sebastian has emerged in 33rd place after a hard-fought battle in the last round of the World Junior Chess Championships in Sardinia, Italy on Oct. 12 to 23.

The 16-year-old national master fell short in the 10th and 11th  rounds against FIDE Masters Boldbaatar Altantuya of Mongolia and Daria Vanduyfhuys of Belgium, respectively, easing her to the middle out of 66 participants in the final overall standing.

Nine rounds into the girl’s category, Sebastian landed in the 19th spot with 5.5 points following impressive wins against FIDE Masters Gabija Simkunaite of Lithuania, Sarah Djidjeli of France, and Anamarija Radikovic of Croatia.  

Sebastian improved her current ELO ratings at 1865, amassing 58.6 points from her 11 games with three wins, one draw, and four losses. 

The junior national titlist would have earned the international master norm had she won her last two games.  

Jerzon Sebastian, father and original mentor of the younger Sebastian, vowed they would continue their campaign in joining more international tournaments. 

Their target is to secure the International Master (IM) title this year.

“We don’t know yet how Mhage can join another international tournament and represent the Philippines, but we have faith that God would make a way and touch people’s hearts, or our government institutions to support our campaign,” he said.

The older Sebastian thanked all those who supported Team Pilipinas, especially those who can make it possible for his daughter to compete in her first European international tournament. 

Meanwhile, fellow Philippine team FM Alekhine Nouri who joined the open category of the games winded up at 70th place with 5.5 points. 

The 16-year-old Nouri added 8.4 points to his Elo rating of 2251. – Ofelia C. Empian