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This 9-year old Prodigy Slept at the Airport For 2 Nights

by Athena Yap

IT was such a bitter-sweet journey for nine-year old chess prodigy Bince Rafael Operiano who grabbed the headlines for bringing home four medals at the recently held international chess tournament in Bangkok. 

Before his flight to Bangkok, he had to sleep two nights on the benches of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

Bince’s father, Ben, said they have no money to buy tickets for his son who qualified to compete in the 21st Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championship.

So from Oas, Albay, they arrived in Manila via bus on November 2. 

“Bale dalawang gabi si Bince, tapos yung papa niya 3 nights natulog sa NAIA Terminal 3. Nanggaling pa kasi sila ng Bicol. Byahe from Bicol to Manila is 12 hours po,” Bince’s mother, Rosemary told republicasia.

“Naghihintay sila ng sponsor ng Philippine Sports Commission, national champ kasi sya so may chance po si Bince na malibre ang plane ticket nya,” Rosemary added.

Due to lack of funds, the nine-year old chess prodigy flew to Bangkok by himself on November 4. The Department of Social Welfare and Development had to require his mother to sign a waiver form. 

“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,” Cong. Cabredo wrote in his post in a recent Facebook post.

On November 6, Ben was finally able to get enough funds to buy tickets and join his son in Bangkok.

When the father finally arrived to personally cheer for his son, the boy eventually got his momentum to play and had won the succeeding rounds and amazingly made it to the top.

Although Bince’s mother cannot personally cheer for him during the competition because she had to look after the two other siblings of the champ, she was praying for his son from afar.

Ben even flexed that his son scored number 1 for the U-10 or 10 years old under category out of 20 other competitors from different countries.

How did Bince learn to play chess

Bince’s mother, Rosemary, said the little boy was only five years old when he learned to play chess. 

It was when their family travelled to Negros Occidental and they had no television and gadgets to play with. So, to keep Bince from boredom, the father bought a chess board worth P50 to P60.

His father Ben taught Bince the basics of chess. It also became their bonding time as father and son.

Ben is a security guard. To make ends meet, he also sells gasoline, rice and coal.

He said he learned to play chess during elementary school days. 

At age six, Bince competed at the National Age Group Chess Championship for 8 years old and below in Albay Astrodome. He bested other chess players about his age from all over the country.

The Operiano family are thankful to Bince’s trainer, Archie Haig for his mentorship to the little boy

Bince is set to compete for a National Master title when he turns 10.



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