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Palawan Queen's Gambit loaded with chess queens

WIM Shania Mendoza will lead an all-girl lineup representing Palawan in PCAP Season 1. UAAP (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The first ever professional sports club hailing from Palawan is full of girl power.

Living to the moniker Queen's Gambit, the Palawenian squad competing in next year's PCAP All-Filipino Conference will enter the said tournament with an all-female lineup.

In the snake format draft which took place on Sunday at the Quezon City Sports Club, the Gambit stunned everyone by using their 24th and 25th overall picks on Women's International Masters Shania Mendoza and Catherine Secopito, respectively, over Rogelio Barcenilla, Oliver Barbosa, and Rolando Salvador, the last three grandmasters still available after the first round.

Palawan finished its stint in the draft by choosing WIM's Antoinette San Diego and Mikee Suede with the 72nd and 73rd overall picks.

The team would later beef up its roster with Women's National Masters Carmelites Abanes and Cecilia Cuizon.

With a rule requiring the clubs to enlist three homegrown players, the Gambit signed Marife Dela Torre, Yanika Seratubias, and Jesibel Maberit.

When asked why she opted to go for an entirely distaff side for PCAP's inaugural season, Queen's Gambit coach Susan Neri said, “Chess is not just for men. It’s time the women play and show that all’s fair in the game.”

Team owner Jojo Mitra believes this move will entice more women to give chess a try especially with the success of Netflix drama The Queen's Gambit.

“In choosing to field an all-female team, we will garner more interest from Filipinas to play chess,” he said.

While not drafting a GM could be a high risk move, Neri believes that her team will make a surprise starting Jan. 12.

“We know the queens always have the last say. Just see. We’ll surprise everyone,” she vowed.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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