June 19 ------ FIDE Master Sander Severino, defying odds all his life, escaped a power outage and upended a tough multi-titled opponent in Igor Yarmonov of Ukraine for a historic triumph in the International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) World Online Chess Rapid Championship Wednesday night. Severino completed the job just before the lights went out in his place in Silay City, Negros Occidental, thus becoming the first Filipino world champion in the sport of chess.
The 34-year-old reigning Asian and ASEAN Para Games ruler capped his tour-de-force feat by smashing the five-time world standard chess king Yarmonov to finish undefeated with 8.5 points on eight triumphs and a draw in the event that drew a tough field of 124 participants. Israeli IM Andrei Gurbanov and Russian IM Andrei Obudchuk, who are also former world champs, wound up second and third, respectively, with seven points apiece. Jasper Rom and Henry Lopez also made the country proud by ending up sixth and eighth with 6.5 points each.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Severino of his shining moment. It came on the heels of Wesley So’s triumphant feat in Fischer-Random or Chess 960, but the Cavite-born wiz delivered the win for the United States. It was a close shave for Severino, getting the full point on Yarmanov’s resignation a few seconds before power outage hit Silay. “I think there’s a Divine Intervention as the lights went out when he had resigned. God is good,” said Severino.
The Paralympic champ has been a living testament to every miracle he has experienced starting when he and his dad, Saul, were told he had muscle degeneration and would be lucky to live past 20 years old. “When my father and I had a bicycle accident when I was eight, we were told to go to PGH because they had advance equipment. They diagnosed that I had this bone disease and was told I only have 20 years to live,” said Severino. That didn’t stop him from dreaming and pursuing this dream. At 34, Severino is the first Filipino world chess champ.