Behind the Three-Year-Old Chess Prodigy

Meet the chess master from Rizal

At three years young, Magnus Carlsen Sidaya Roma competing at a young age, the future of Philippine Chess looks bright.

In the heart of Rizal, a local chess prodigy is holding court; Magnus Carlsen Sidaya Roma is playing 10 games of chess against ten different opponents, and he’s doing it simultaneously. Now, simulchess matches are nothing new, and this could very easily be happening anywhere in the world, but the Philippines is better known as basketball country and, in the case of Magnus, this chess phenom is just three-years young.


Named after current World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway, Roma hails from the small town of Montalban in Rizal. It was there, at the Montalban Sports Center, that PlayPH first met the young boy looking to make his way into the record books as the world’s youngest winner of ten chess games played simultaneously.


Roma’s parents, Alvin and Jollibee, themselves chess enthusiasts, discovered their son’s aptitude for chess when he was only a year old—a talent they’ve continued to develop in him through practice and exposure to the sport. According to them, Magnus can analyze and make moves the same way an advanced player would. Magnus is so passionate about chess that even his parents (who serve as his coaches) are the first to call it a day after long sessions of training.

The Roma family shares a common love for the game of chess, because of the good values it teaches.

Alvin believes that it runs in the blood, as Magnus’s one-year old sister is already showing an interest in chess. For Jollibee, she believes that it is only her role as a parent to develop the God-given talents and skills of their children. They are beyond grateful to have a role in training their children in a sport that, for her, teaches a lot of values.


“What happens in the chess board can also be applied in life.” Sidaya told PlayPH. “In chess, you can make a sacrifice; in real life, you also have to make sacrifices, so you can achieve your dreams.”


The reality of chess in the Philippines is that it is not significantly supported as a competitive sport. But who knows what could happen in the next couple of years? Alvin and Jollibee are firm believers in only furthering their children’s chess careers if it is their passion–If Magnus is willing to go the distance, they will definitely support him in his dream to become the best player in the world.


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