GAMES and Amusements Board (GAB) Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra will lead the introductory press conference of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) on Thursday via Google meet.

Joining him are PCAP founding commissioner, Atty. Paul Elauria, and other league officials.

Grandmaster Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr. believes more top players will come out from the grassroots level with the advent of the country’s first-ever professional chess league.

Antonio, a 13-time national champion, is among the invited speakers in the launching of the league.

“This will inspire kids to play chess, like the way the PBA inspired kids to play basketball,” Antonio said. “It will be another motivation for them to get better and aim higher.”

Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre, WIM Bernadete Galas and NM Marlon Bernardino are also invited to give their piece.

A brainchild of Elauria, the league aims to provide a new platform for Filipino chess players and give them a steady source of income.

“This is a start of a new era in chess. We want to elevate the status of our chess players and make them level with other professional athletes,” said Elauria.

Players need to apply for a GAB license to become eligible to play. All GAB-licensed players will be included in the PCAP Draft. The order of the draft will be determined by drawing of lots.

PCAP will be composed of approximately 32 LGU-based but privately-owned chess teams with a minimum of eight and maximum of 10 players under contract.

Each team will field six regular players composed of two rated players, one female, one senior and two homegrown players.

Players will get standard contract with minimum and maximum salaries based on salary caps agreed by all the teams.

The participating teams will be divided into two conferences: Northern Conference for Luzon-based teams and Southern Conference for Visayas and Mindanao-based teams.

Already confirming their participation are the Baguio Lion Kings, Bataan Marching Heroes, Bulacan Bloody Bishops, Cagayan Valley Kings, Makati Red Gambits, Manila Noble Knights, Mindoro Golden Tamaraws, Palawan Beach Masters, San Juan City, Pampanga, Pasay, Subic Knightmares, and Tarlac Top Guns. Also interested to join are ARMM, Batangas, Bohol, Cavite, Cebu, Cotabato, Davao, General Santos, Ilocos, Iloilo, Laguna, Leyte, Misamis, Negros, Pangasinan, Quezon, Rizal, Surigao, and Zamboanga. — Marlon Bernardino