Zamboanga Sultans stun Surigao Checkmaters in pre-PCAP online chess duel

Lynde Salgados
Zamboanga Sultans stun Surigao Checkmaters in pre-PCAP online chess duel
The Zamboanga Sultans stamp their class anew against the Surigao Fianchetto Checkmaters, this time in the 2021 Mindanao Friendly Chess Tour

The Zamboanga Sultans defeated the Surigao Fianchetto Checkmaters again, 33-27, in the last stage of the 2021 Mindanao Friendly Chess Tour’s online series of matches, concluded on Saturday, August 28, via

The six-point romp off was something to ponder for the Checkmaters, who also yielded to the Sultans by a close two points (9.5-11.5) during the All-Mindanao match up in the imports-flavored 2nd Conference of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) tournament.

Both quarterfinalists in the Southern league of the Wesley So Cup 2nd Conference, the Sultans and the Checkmaters will see action again in the season-ending 3rd Conference of the country’s first ever play-for-pay chess league in September.

“These friendly exercises served well and were good for the Mindanao teams. They can make further adjustments as they assess their weaknesses and strengths prior to PCAP’s Open Conference next month,” said event organizer and the Surigao Fianchetto team owner Engr. Rey Urbiztondo.

Not even the return of Surigao’s top board player in Grandmaster (GM) Enrico Sevillano and the undefeated run of female compatriot Aubrey de Guzman could stop the Zamboanga side from imposing its superiority.

The 53-year-old Sevillano, the 2008 US champion and runner-up in the recently-held Central California Open 2021, and the promising De Guzman led Surigao’s charge in the opener, 9-6, along with the victories of National Master Jonathan Tan, Lennon Hart, Arena GM Henry Lopez, Antonio Chavez Jr., Father Vic Arellano, and lady chesser Charita Barata.

The Sultans came back with a hard-earned 8-7 squeaker in second round of the blitz contest with their top 5 titled players in Fide Master Jesse Sales, and National Masters Zulfikar Sali, Raymond Salcedo, Joey Albert Florendo and Butch Villavieja all emerging triumphant in the company of Patrick Erle Florendo, Dr. Jenny Mayor, and Sarah Mae Chua.

But to Surigao’s great surprise, that narrow one-point edge was all the Zamboanga team needed to catch fire in the final rapid showdown that saw the Sultans winning from Boards 2 to 7 en route to a convincing 19-11 shellacking or a total of 33-27 team margins.

“We’re caught off-guard and only Sevillano survived. Of course, we’ll work out on this Achilles’ heel which is the rapid challenge,” said Urbiztondo.

He lauded the Caraga selection, Northern Mindanao group, and the Davao Executives Chess Society’s participation in the month-long regional matches.

“It fostered camaraderie and sportsmanship among Filipino chess players. We were compliant to the social distancing pandemic health protocols,” added Urbiztondo.

The PCAP tournament, the first in the country with the players receiving talent fees just like in basketball, volleyball and football, is headed by PCAP president Paul Elauria and chairman Michael Angelo Chua. –

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