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Two homegrown chess players will represent Palawan in the grand finals of the over-the-board tournament of the National Age Group Chess Championships (NAGCC) in July.

Stephanie and Sophia Jabagat, will be competing with players from different provinces nationwide. Stephanie will join the under-12 girls’ category after placing second runner-up in the NAGCC semifinals, while her sister, Sophia, is qualified to join the under-14 category after ranking as fourth runner-up.

The two qualified as Palawan bets after the NAGCC semifinals in May via Tornelo.com and the Zoom meeting platform, some of the platforms used for online chess tournaments.

Neal Garcia, their coach, said that the players are now spending their time at the local chess center in preparation for the tournament on July 19 to 24 at Robinsons Malolos, Bulacan.

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“Actually, both online and face-to-face training ko sa kanila. Malaking tulong rin si coach Jess Maberit at ang Tandikan Chess Club. Supportive parents plus a supportive community,” he said.

Even since the onset of the pandemic, Garcia has been coaching the Jabagat sisters while participating in different tournaments online both at local and international levels.

The two also joined the online NAGCC grand finals, where Stephanie bagged third place and fourth place for Sophia. It will be the first face-to-face NAGCC competition that will be joined by the siblings.

The top 3 winners of the grand finals per category will represent the country in international competition.

Stephanie, who was previously featured by Palawan News, has already recorded victories in different tournaments such as the National Age Group Online Chess Championship – Visayas Leg, National Youth and School Online Chess Championship South Luzon Leg, and National Youth and Schools Chess Championship.

She has competed in Asian events, such as the Asian School Online Chess Championship – Philippine Team B, where she placed 28th out of 72 countries in the girls’ under-11 age category.

The National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) work together to put on the NAGCC.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.