(PHOTO: In year 1962 issued a Philippine stamp showing Rizal playing chess)
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One time in Heidelberg, Germany, he resided in German boarding house where he became a friend to some German law students. Since Rizal was a good player while traveling, he was eventually recommended by his boardmates to become a member of Chess Players' Club of Heidelberg. We can't say how he even won his series of games but he became popular among these German law students, not only in the chess games, but also in their beeir drinking sprees. And yes he ordered beer and drank, but oftentimes, to socialize and to practice German language.
From the foregoing story above, we can stated clearly that he was a prolific chess player ever since his own first travel to Europe played with passengers on board. For instance, after working hours, he joined his friends to play chess. He took time also to read about latest chess news. When bored, he plays chess. To anyone, he plays chess more than a leisure time because he has a capability being a strategist and tactician in daily works. Even in the Noli Me Tangere, if you would read the Chapter 24: The Social Cancer, there is a chess game between Crisostomo Ibarra and Kapitan Basilio:
"The mean ended, and while the tea and coffee were being served, both old and young scattered about in different groups. Some took the chessmen, others the cards, while the girls, curious about the future, chose to put questions to a Wheel of Fortune.
'Come, Señor Ibarra,' called Kapitan Basilio in merry mood, 'We have a lawsuit fifteen years old, and there isn't a judge in the Audiencia who can settle it. Let's see if we can't end it on the chessboard.'
'With the greatest pleasure,' replied the youth. 'Just wait a moment, the alferez is leaving.'
...The chess match began with great solemnity. 'If the game ends in a draw, it's understood that the lawsuit is to be dropped,' said Ibarra.
'Check to the King!' Called the youth.
Kapitan Basilio had no other recourse than to hide the piece behind the Queen.
'Check to the Queen!' Called the youth as he threatened that piece with a Rook which was defended by a Pawn. Being unable to protect the Queen or to withdraw the piece on account of the King behind it, Kapitan Basilio asked for time to reflect."
Clearly, shows that Rizal was full-time strategist and tactician in chess. And who knows, wondering that he played in a way of Ibarra checked King and Queen. Since the Queen was threatened by the Rook, there is no rules in chess to say "Check" whenever the Queen is threatened but only to stress out the status of the game.
Is Rizal the first Chess master in the Philippines? We can hardly conclude on this officially because if he was the first, then he had been in main chess tournaments and somehow we could know how he played masterly, but in some historical accounts - he is (obviously a genius man to master the chess game)! In fact, the accout of Tomas Arejola, one of Rizal's friends and propagandist fighting for the reform, according to him, Rizal was a Chess master.
"...that such was his punctuality and enthusiasm for study that he would abandon any ceremony, no matter how important it might be, if the hour he had previously arranged had arrived, and go home to his books. A certain hour of the day he played chess (at which he was a master). But even though the moment of most intense interest had come, such as being able to checkmate the King or Queen, if the clock marked the time his schedule said he should do something else, he would get up and leave, and no pressure from his friends could persuade him to change his mind."
Thus, for everyone and to the Filipino nation, Rizal could have been considered Phlippines' first Chess Grandmaster.
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