WOMEN Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna in action at the National Chess Championship. – NCFP fB page

By Joey Villar 

A wake-UP call in the opening round was all Janelle Mae Frayna needed to get it going. And when she did, there seems to be no stopping the country’s first and only woman grandmaster (WGM).

WGM Ms. Frayna waylaid Allaney Jia Doroy in 91 moves of an English Opening on Tuesday to finally catch up on the leaders after six rounds of the 2021 Philippine National Women’s Chess Championship at the PACE in Quezon City.

It was the top-seeded 24-year-old Ms. Frayna’s third win since falling to 13-year-old sensation Ruelle Canino in last Saturday’s first round.

The Army woman from Camarines Sur has also two draws in that impressive stretch.

And thanks to her reawakening, Ms. Frayna has zoomed to the top alongside Kylen Joy Mordido, Marie Antoinette San Diego, Shania Mae Mendoza and Jan Jodilyn Fronda on identical four points.

More wins could be coming on her way as she was clashing with lower-ranked Francois Marie Magpily in the seventh round at press time.

“That loss was a wake-up call,” said Ms. Frayna.

Ms. Mordido, who needs the last of the three norms to become the country’s next WGM, held Ms. San Diego to a 31-move draw of an English Opening while Ms. Mendoza split the point with Marian Calimbo in 68 moves of a King’s Indian Defense.

Ms. Fronda, for her part, was on the verge of hurdling Mariel Rinoa Sadey and seizing the solo lead.

But the 2019 national titlist failed to capitalize on her pawn edge that allowed Ms. Sadey to escape with a 59-move draw in their Sicilian battle.

It kept Ms. Sadey at No. 6 with three points, half a point atop Mses. Canino, Doroy and Bernadette Galas with 2.5 points.

Ms. Canino bested Ms. Magpily in 69 moves of a Pirc Defense while Ms. Galas downed Lexie Grace Hernandez in 53 moves of a Reti Opening.

The event, which is backed by PSC chair Butch Ramirez, Chess Movement, Inc. chair Dr. Ariel Potot, PCSO general manager Royina Garma, Endgame Sports founder Atty. Cris Aspiras, POC President Bambol Tolentino, NCFP chief Butch Pichay and Atty. Roel Canobas, is staking a top purse worth P50,000 and a slot to the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games in May next year.