THE first time I heard from Paul Elauria, the man behind the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP), he told me he hoped there would be a team from Cebu in the planned pro league, saying it wouldn’t be complete without a Cebu team.
A few days later, just as PCAP ironed out its rules, Elauria told me that four teams from Cebu are interested in joining; including one from Toledo City and one from Lapu-Lapu City.
I’m not sure if all four teams’ application will be approved but I hope there would be at least one from Metro Cebu. Jerry Maratas, the president of the Cebu Executives and Professionals Chess Association, said they have yet to discuss PCAP in their group and if Cebu’s oldest chess organization throws in its hat, it could be the fifth Cebu-based team to apply.
I hope though that instead of having five Cebu-based teams, the local chess community, can just group together and agree on having one.
Based on the rules, the franchise fee isn’t that expensive at P50,000 but with team salary cap at P720,000 a year, having just one or two teams from Cebu might be more fiscally prudent, right?
This reminds me of that meeting with the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) in Cebu a couple of years ago, when the league was planning its second conference. Interest was high from Cebu-based teams, and there were stories that there were as many as four interested to form their own squads. But when the franchise fee was set at P10 million, a hefty fee even in the pre-Covid economy, only one team pushed through, the IPI-backed Cebu Casino.
Thankfully, PCAP’s franchise fee is not that expensive and with seven boards (or players), maintaining one wouldn’t be as expensive as a 12-man basketball team right? The players’ salary isn’t that bad too, with the minimum set at P40,000 and the maximum set at P180,000 per year. I know that’s not enough to be a full-time pro player but for a start, those are good numbers.
The league initially plans to have three conferences a year, with each conference lasting two and a half months, with games to be played Wednesdays and/or Saturdays and Sundays. At the minimum of P40,000, that’s a guarantee of P4,000 every week during the conference, and that amount is equal to or sometimes just a bit bigger than the winners’ pot in monthly tournaments held here. Not bad, right? I heard some foreign-based Pinoys, who are working as instructors, are thinking of coming back to join the league.
Though players with Elo rating of 2000 for the men and 1950 for the women will have to join a draft but lower rated players can be hired directly as homegrown talents or alternates, opening the door for the young guns to join the league.
One of the mistakes of the MPBL was that it seemed the teams were left on their own to look for sponsors or to seek partnership but the chess league will help the teams in getting sponsorship from private companies or local government units (LGU).
And in the past, I’ve seen some LGUs in Cebu back their teams when there were national tournaments and I expect the same support should there be a Cebu-based team in the league.
These are interesting times for Cebu chess.