PRODIGIOUS Christian Gian Karlo Arca is being tipped as the future of Philippine chess.

Over the weekend in Tagaytay, the 13-year-old Mr. Arca’s brilliance was in full display as he bested older, more experienced rivals to top the premier Open Under-18 (U18)class of the Vice Gov. Athena Tolentino National Age Group Championships.

Mr. Arca finished unbeaten with six points out of a possible seven including a final-round victory over Jerish John Velarde and took the crown in the strongest division of the four-day meet ahead of top seed Cyrus Vladimir Francisco and Del Emerson dela Cruz, who ended up second and third, respectively, with 5.5 apiece.

The eighth-grader from Dasmariñas Integrated High School has been impressive for a year now and one of his most memorable feats came in the Manny Pacquiao International Open in General Santos last December when he slew Moldovan International Master Dragos Ceres.

While there’s more work to be done, Mr. Arca should improve and realize his potential as a future Grandmaster, possibly in the mold of Cavite-born American Wesley So.

Other winners of the event bankrolled by Abraham Tolentino, who is also a National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) vice president apart from being a Cavite vice governor, were Franchesca Largo (U18), John Cyrus Borce and Jersey Marticio (U16), Keith Adriane Ilar and Kaye Lalaine Regidor (U14), Mar Aviel Carredo and Zhaoyu Capilitan (U12), and Steve Zacky Bolico and Mary Janelle Tan (U10).

Mr. Arca also advanced to the grand finals set April 2 to 10 in Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte along with the top eight of each category of this event backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, the NCFP and Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino. — Joey Villar