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Hardwork is a talent

Chess PieceBobby Ang


Ms. Janelle Mae Frayna was born on May 19, 1996 in Legazpi City, Albay. She is the youngest of three siblings. Her brothers Jan Mari Felix and Don Mari Phil are both with the Philippine National Police. Her father is George Guillermo while her mother, Corazon Sonia Frayna is the genius in the family — she is an engineer, teacher with many other side professions — on top of that she passed six national eligibilities. She is the one Janelle points to as her role model. Corazon Sonia has stage 3 breast cancer but is fighting it very hard and her bravery has always been an inspiration.

When Janelle was 11 years old her older brother taught her chess. Let us listen to her story.

“Back then, I never knew that I would make a name because of ‘just’ playing chess. I attended elementary and half of my high school days in my hometown Legazpi City. At that time, I was a typical school kid driven to be the best in my class. I love competitions because they bring out potentials that we never thought we have!

“One thing that helped my progress in class and in chess is that whenever I set goals, I never cease until I reach it. Some people think that I’m too ambitious. But for me it’s not. Trying to outdo yourself and getting better each day is a matter of attitude. I always seek for improvement, because our life doesn’t end once we realize our dreams. I believe that as long as we’re breathing, there will always be a next level/next phase for us.

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“Most Filipinos are die hard basketball fans. But chess? Ah ohhh. We do have great talents for the game but we fail to develop and sustain a strong chess culture. I share the advocacy of my coach Grandmaster Jayson, which is to promote chess professionalism in our country. He has the heart to help kids reach their full chess playing potentials. But there are resistance — from the parents, young kids themselves and even from the veteran players. I always hear from the old guys that Filipinos have innate gifts for the game, they say ‘likas na madiskarte tayo.’ Perhaps right, but it’s not just about talent. Talent alone can’t win championships.”

“I am a living testament of what hard work, dedication and faith can do to reach our dreams. I was 14 when I met Grandmaster Jayson. That was the first time that I have met a grandmaster. Wow! Honestly, I felt that grandmasters are like rare species of the world. No exaggeration but I felt so blessed to finally meet one.”

It is difficult to overestimate the impact GM Jayson Gonzales had on Janelle. He was coach of the FEU chess team, and a good one at that. Unlike some coaches who rely on pirating the top players of other schools, Jayson prides himself on developing his own talents. One day he noticed that one of his players in the FEU women’s squad was reading all the chess materials he distributed. He gave her some more and she devoured all of that as well. Clearly, Janelle Mae Frayna was serious at her chess. This was what started the collaboration between coach and pupil which continues up to this day.

In 2014, at the age of 18, she shocked everybody by qualifying for the Finals of the Philippine Chess Championship, men’s division, the first time a woman, let alone a teenager, accomplished this feat. An even bigger shock was in store for the finalists, as she beat International Grandmasters Joey Antonio and Richard Bitoon as well as International Masters Jan Emmanuel Garcia, Oliver Dimakiling and Joel Pimentel to finish in 4th place, qualifying her to represent the Philippines in the 2014 Tromso Olympiad.

* * *
2014 National Chess Championship
June 21-28, 2014

Final Standings
1-2. GM Eugenio Torre 2423, GM John Paul Gomez 2526, 7.5/11

3. FM Paulo Bersamina 2118, 6.5/11

4-7. WFM Janelle Mae Frayna 2133, GM Darwin Laylo 2508, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia 2390, GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. 2517, 6.0/11

8. GM Rogelio Barcenilla 2475, 5.5/11

9-10. IM Oliver Dimakiling 2373, GM Richard Bitoon 2423, 5.0/11

11-12. NM Roel Abelgas 2319, IM Joel Pimentel 2286, 2.5/11

Here is her memorable game against GM Antonio.

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Frayna, Janelle Mae (2133) — Antonio, Rogelio, Jr. (2517) [A04]
NATIONAL Championships, 23.06.2014
[WGM Janelle Mae Frayna]


I was inspired to play Nf3 all throughout the tournament since it gave me a lucky win against GM Bitoon.


A rare response perhaps he was thinking to counter my usual fianchetto setup of g3, then Bg2 with his Bb7.


Exclamation for the courage. At that time, I was not an e4 player but the ensuing battle transposes to its territory which is the Owen’s defense.

2…Bb7 3.Nc3

I won’t pretend to know the opening theory of this game, but I was just following simple chess principles of optimum piece development.

3…e6 4.d4 Bb4 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.Qe2 d5 7.exd5

After the game I found out that this is the most popular move in the given position. 7.e5 is the latest trend. 7…Ne4 8.0 — 0 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Bxc3 10.Rb1 Nc6 11.Rd1 (11.Qe3 Bb4 12.Qf4 Qd7) 11…Qd7 12.Ba3 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 Bxd4 14.c3 Bxc3 15.Rbc1 Ba5 16.Rxc7 Qxc7 17.Rc1 Qxc1+ (Forced. 17…Qb8 18.Bb5+ Kd8 19.Qh5 Black is getting mated) 18.Bxc1 0 — 0 — 0 19.Ba3 Kb8 20.Qf3 Rd7 21.Bd6+ Ka8 22.Bb5 Rc8 23.h3 Bc6 24.Ba6 Rcd8 25.Qd3 g6 26.Qc2 Bb7 27.Bb5 Rc8 28.Qa4 Rdd8 29.Qh4 a6 30.Bd3 Rd7 31.Qxh7 b5 32.Qh4 Bc7 33.Bxc7 Rdxc7 34.Qf4 Rc1+ 35.Kh2 R8c7 36.h4 R1c3 37.Qd4 R3c4 38.Qb6 Rc8 39.g3 Ra4 40.Kh3 Rxa2 41.Kg4 Rc6 42.Qd8+ Ka7 43.Qf8 Rxf2 44.Bxg6 fxg6 45.Qxf2+ Rb6 46.Kf4 b4 47.Ke3 b3 48.Qb2 a5 49.g4 Rb4 50.h5 gxh5 51.gxh5 d4+ 52.Kd3 Bf3 53.h6 Bd1 54.Kd2 Bc2 55.Qa1 Kb6 56.Qh1 b2 57.Kxc2 b1Q+ 58.Qxb1 d3+ 59.Kc1 d2+ 0 — 1 (59) Pavlovic,M (2522)-Minasian,A (2578) Moscow 2008.

7…Nxd5 8.Bd2 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Be7 10.0 — 0 0 — 0

Position is equal.


[11.Ne5 most popular continuation]

11…Bf6 12.c3 Nd7 13.Be4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4 e5 15.Rad1 exd4 16.cxd4 Re8 17.Qg4

Trying to retain the queen’s active position.

17…Nf8 18.Rfe1 Qd6

Objectively, the position is equal, but there are some positional nuances that we have to take into consideration, specifically on the pawn structures of both sides.


[19.d5 Rxe1+ 20.Rxe1 b5 21.Bf4 Qc5 22.cxb5 Qxd5 23.Bxc7 Qxb5 equal]

19…Bxg5 20.Qxg5 Ng6 21.Qb5 c6 22.Qf5 Rad8 23.h4

A typical move discussed in the 45 techniques of positional chess by IM Valeri Bronznik — knight restriction.

23…Rxe1+ 24.Rxe1 Qb4 25.Qg5 f6 26.Qc1 Qa5 27.Qb1 Nf8 28.Re7 Qa3?!

[28…Qa4 29.c5 Ng6 30.Re4 equal]


Better was 29.Qe1 with sole command of the lone open file, but I was inviting for repetition of moves. I want to test if he was satisfied with a draw or wanted to play on.

29…Qa4 30.Qc1 c5 31.Ra3 Qd7 32.d5

A potentially dangerous passed d- pawn.


Better was 32…Re8 33.Re3 with only a slight advantage for White.

33.Rxa7 Re8 34.Ra3 Re4 35.Re3?!

Another proof of my cautious attitude. Passed pawns musts be pushed! 35.Qd2 Rxc4 36.d6 Qd7 37.Re3 Qc6 38.Re7 Nd7 39.Qd3 Rc1+ 40.Ne1 c4 41.Qg3 g6 42.Qf4 Rd1 43.Qh6 with a winning position.


[35…Rxe3 36.fxe3 Kf7 and again there is only a slight advantage for White.

36.Qd2 <D>



This careless move turns the game into a loss. He should have blocked the White rook with 36…Re4.


I say it again — passed pawns must be pushed!


GM Joey panics when he realizes that 37…Nd7 38.Re8+ Kf7 39.Re7+ Kg8 40.Qe3 wins for White. A better move would have been 37…Rc2 although 38.Qd1 Rb2 39.Kh2 still retains the advantage.

38.Qd5+ Kh8 39.Qf7 h6 40.Qxf8+ Kh7 41.d7

Other winning moves were of course possible but I was too excited on pushing this pawn and for my rook to invade the 7th rank! I felt extreme happiness during the game — who would have thought that I would have a winning position against the 12-time National Chess Champ!

41…Qd1+ 42.Kh2 Qxd7 43.g3?!

Inconsistent with my plan! For some reason I didn’t play 43.Re7 Qg4 (43…Qd6+ 44.g3+ — ) 44.Ng5+ which forces mate.

43…Rc2 44.Kg2 Rxa2 45.Re7 Qg4 46.Qxf6?

[46.Ng5+ would have ended the game one move earlier.]

46…Ra8 47.Ng5+ 1 — 0

On Tuesday, I will show you the Memorable game against GM Richard Bitoon.

Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.


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