Bumpy road to victory: Young chess champ gets praise, cash from Albay hometown

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Albay (CNN Philippines, November 14) — The town of Oas in Albay warmly welcomed chess prodigy Bince Rafael Operiano on Monday after he won in the Eastern Asia Youth Championship Standard Rapid Blitz held in Thailand.

Operiano brought home a gold trophy and four medals (1 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze) after beating 20 chess players from other countries in the international tilt.

The local government conferred him the title “Pride of Oas” and awarded him cash incentive for the honor he brought to his hometown.

His father Benrose Operiano recalled with CNN Philippines the challenges they faced before traveling to Bangkok for the competition.

He said Bince traveled to Thailand without his parents because they lacked money for the airfare.

He added Albay 3rd District Rep. Fernando Cabredo helped him purchase the plane ticket to follow his son, who was losing in the first few rounds of the competition.

Cabredo also shared the ordeals that Bince and his parents had to go through.

"Due to limited funds and while waiting for the plane ticket sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, Bince and his father spent three nights at the airport with those benches as their bed. The little boy had to travel first to Thailand without his father. I was told by his mother that during the first day of the competition, the parents of the other participants saw the boy crying, missing the company of his father," Cabredo wrote on a social media post.

"Bince braved the first game with no parent around to cheer him on. He felt pressured and lost to his opponents in the first games. Fortunately, his father arrived in time for the next games and finally around to personally cheer on his son," the lawmaker added.

Bince was taught the basic chess moves by his father using a very small magnetic chess board before the kid learned to read or write.

Albay-based correspondent Rosas Olarte contributed to this report.