MARIE Antoinette San Diego (center) wins women’s chess championship crown. — NATIONAL CHESS FEDERATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

MARIE Antoinette San Diego came through with an effort to remember as she crowned herself winner of the Philippine National Women’s Chess Championship present presented by Nova Wellness Store for the first time at the PACE yesterday.

It was a dream come true for the 23-year-old Woman International Master (WIM) from Dasmariñas City bet as she finally laid claim to the one title that she long sought for since childhood and joined the ranks of former titlists Woman Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna and WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda.

And Ms. San Diego made it for everybody to remember as she topped it with style by scoring 10.5 points out of a possible 11 on 10 wins including ones over Mmess. Frayna and Fronda and a draw.

There were some moments though when she teetered in defeat but relied on good fortunes, perseverance and tactical creativity to crawl her way back.

But overall, she was like a fearsome tigress on the prowl, always hunting for her helpless preys.

And this final-round game was no exception as she went for the kill early against the young, talented but inexperienced April Joy Claros, who was forced to scamper for safety and defend with all her might only to end up losing a pawn and eventually a piece or face the inevitability of a checkmate.

She was so dominating that the runner-up, Ms. Frayna, wound up a clear 2.5 points behind with eight points.

Knowing it was over but the shouting, the country’s first WGM opted to not push herself anymore and settled for a quiet truce with Olympiad teammate WIM Bernadette Galas.

Ms. Frayna consoled herself with P30,000 that she hoped would soothe the pain of losing the crown she wore on her head for years now.

Vice Glysen Derotas, another potential future champion, took third when nobody was looking and P20,000 while Ms. Fronda ended up fourth with a P10,000 to go home with. — Joey Villar