DREAMS do come true.

Prodigious Ruelle Canino realized hers on Sunday after claiming one of the three berths to the national team seeing action in the FIDE World Chess Olympiad in Budapest, Hungary this September.

It was sealed by a slambang 83-move draw with Woman FIDE Master Cherry Ann Mejia of a Sicilian in the 10th and penultimate round of the Philippine National Women’s Chess Championship at the Malolos City Hall in Bulacan.

And it could have been a victory after ramming her way into Ms. Mejia’s brittle queenside pawn formation that allowed the wunderkind from Cagayan de Oro to squeeze through a passed pawn.

But Ms. Canino couldn’t translate it to a win as Ms. Mejia masterfully defended and forced the draw via perpetual check.

With a round to go, Ms. Canino has 7.5 points trailing Woman International Master (WIM) Jan Jodilyn Fronda by half a point following the latter’s 62-move triumph of yet another Sicilian over Mhage Sebastian.

That not only plucked Ms. Fronda the solo grip of No. 1, she also claimed an Olympiad spot for herself and man the top board with the possibility of perennial board one player Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Janelle Mae Frayna seeing action in the men’s.

Interestingly, Mmess. Fronda and Canino were clashing in the last round at press time with the winner seizing the one slot to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Bangkok, Thailand this November, the top purse worth P85,000 courtesy of host Malolos City Mayor Christian Natividad and the distinction as the best female player in the country.

Ms. Frayna, meanwhile, saw her four-win streak coming to an end after she shockingly fell to underdog April Joy Ramos of Marikina City.

Mercifully, Ms. Frayna remained at No. 3 but she now shared it with WIM Kylen Joy Mordido, who could be the country’s next WGM with two of the three norms required in earning the title already in her hands.

Still with a legitimate chance at that third and last Olympiad seat were WFMs Allaney Jia Doroy and Shanian Mae Mendoza, who both have 5.5 points in this event organized by the NCFP and backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and POC. — Joey Villar