Philippine Inmates checkmate players from 46 countries – conviction and brilliance at their best

Philippine Inmates checkmate players from 46 countries – conviction and brilliance at their best

By Marlon Bernardin
Wed 26 Oct 2022

MANILA—Congratulations and congratulations to the General Santos City Jail—Philippines for winning the second Intercontinental Online Prisoner Chess Championship (Men’s Section) on Monday, October 17, 2022. Over 85 teams from 46 countries representing all continents joined the tournament, which aims to popularize chess as an effective tool for the reintegration of incarcerated people. The second Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners is the largest chess event ever held in correctional facilities and was launched on October 13, International Prison Education Day.

*** Chess for Freedom Defenders in Philippines Prisons

The conviction of the prisoners, the efforts of Prison Officer 1 Cedrix Cabangal of the Bureau of Prisons Management and Penology (BJMP), the advice of the Chief Prison Director of the BJMP, Allan Iral, and the support of the Chess defenders Master Silva and AGM Srihaan Poddar score for the Philippines POW Team, the only team from ASEAN to compete in the Second Intercontinental POW Chess Competition.

According to Philippine National Master Winston Silva — “It was a triumph of the spirit for these hard working people and I am proud and honored to have helped them achieve their dreams.”

AGM Srihaan Poddar (14-year-old student from Manila International School who plays under the Philippine Chess Federation) said — “Chess instills mental agility, self-discipline, problem-solving skills and the ability to focus.It positively channels energy and emotions into critical thinking, relieves prisoners of isolation, helps them relax, teaches patience and provides a lifeline to prisoners. prison chess gives hope that people seen as pawns could be promoted to kings and queens”.

“During the pandemic, when I was confined (among many others) within the four walls of the house; I realized the predicament of life as a prisoner. I wanted to explore the use of online chess as a tool de-stressing and learning for prisons. I did some research and talked to a few chess players and learned that the Philippine prison provides this outlet where I can contribute to the growth and rehabilitation of the prisoner 39. I contacted Mr. Silva and Mr. Cabangal and they were very happy that foreigners were also involved in the rehabilitation process and it would be very encouraging for the prisoners,” Srihaan added.

*** Life beyond the Covid pandemic in prisons in the Philippines During the pandemic, when most human beings were confined within four walls, some inspiration came from the prison world (where four walls are rather a standard) to show that the pandemic is behind us and the world needs to move on and on!

The chess program began at the General Santos City Jail Male Dorm under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in April 2020. The project supervisor said that during the pandemic, de many changes in prisoners’ mental health have been noticed due to restrictions related to COVID-19 health protocols. Therefore, a chess competition inside the penal institution was organized to manage the anxieties of the inmates.

BJMP Chief Prison Warden Allan Iral praised the team for bringing pride and honor not only to the prison office but also to the country. Despite their situation, our PDL chess players and their trainer, Prison Officer 1 Cedrix Cabangal, did not disappoint us. Although they were imprisoned, they still managed to win the match and be crowned champions. Our wholehearted salute and tribute to their demonstrated talent, determination and talent which is truly world class,” Allan said in a translated statement.

Jail Officer 1 Cedrix Cabangal of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the team’s coach, said he was confident their team would top this year’s tournament. “I saw the potential of the team. They were very competitive and determined to compete in the Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners and become champions,” Cabangal said in a statement. Our team made up of people deprived of liberty who are competitive, and with the help of a few Filipinas and 39; chess masters, namely NM Winston Silva, AGM Srihaan Poddar and yours truly, we will present our talent to the whole world”, – says prison officer 1 Cabangal.

***Chess as a tool for education and social inclusion in prison This aims to introduce chess as a tool for education and social inclusion in prisons in different countries. The tournament is played online and streamed live on Chess TV and the FIDE Youtube channel. The championship is open to teams of four players representing any correctional facility, with no restrictions on inmate age and gender.

FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich gave a very inspiring message in his opening speech: “Our project ‘Chess for Freedom’ is for people who have already made mistakes in their lives but have a chance to improve. FIDE will bring chess to every corner of the world, especially to the corners where chess can transform people’s lives, give them a chance to live a better life and change people’s lives. things. People who are not free now can develop their lives to the best. I hope this event will give a boost to the development of chess in the world and have a great social impact.”

FIDE Board Vice President Dana Reizniece-Ozola spoke about the Chess for Freedom program and explained: “Prison officials find that in places where the chess program is implemented , inmates’ behavior changes, depression and stress levels decrease , they are more successful in re-socializing upon release from prison It’s not just a matter of skills and another way to spend your time free is also the feeling of belonging to a community, to the chess family. a lot to advocate for a program itself, but I think the example of other countries works even better than our invitations.”

AGM Srihaan Poddar is inspired by FIDE’s Chess for Freedom program and plans to continue working with Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Jail Officer 1 Cedrix Cabangal and National Master Winston Silva to convey this hope to prisoners of General Santos City Jail—Philippines.-Marlon Bernardino-

Click here to see a list of other articles written by Marlon Bernardino.

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