Pacman from boxer, preacher to chess player

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 21 2013 09:14 AM | Updated as of May 21 2013 05:14 PM

Asia's first Grand Master Eugene Torre (L) and Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao make the ceremonial moves in the Asian Continental Chess Championship Tuesday night at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City. Photo courtesy of Marlon Bernardino.

MANILA, Philippines - Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao finally showed up in the $100,000 Asian Continental Chess Championship he is sponsoring at the Midas Hotel and Casino and played Grandmaster Eugene Torre to a fighting draw.

"Chess is one of the sports I love because I played chess even before I became a boxer," Pacquiao told The STAR last night, in Filipino.

The amiable Sarangani congressman watched some games, took pictures with fans and engaged Torre, Asia’s first ever GM, into an entertaining chess game that ended in a standoff.

Playing the black pieces, Pacquiao employed a rare defense using a Queen fianchetto variation and played Torre through about 20 moves before the two, following a series of minor piece exchanges, agreed to halve the point and shook hands.

Torre then asked for a signature for his red boxing gloves and then handed Pacquiao a marbled chessboard and wooden chess pieces as souvenir before the second-term Sarangani representative left the hotel.

Pacquiao said his support of chess is for long-term.

"I will support chess as well as other sports like boxing, basketball and billiards because it’s part of my platform being a congressman," said Pacquiao.

When asked on his plans for his next fight against Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 in Macau, Pacquiao said he will start training soon.