Reigning champs Laguna, Iloilo lead 6 others in PCAP semifinals

Lynde Salgados
Reigning champs Laguna, Iloilo lead 6 others in PCAP semifinals

LEADERS. GMs Joey Antonio (L) and Banjo Barcenilla hold ground for their Iloilo and Laguna teams' bid for the semifinals of the PCAP's season-ending 3rd Conference.

PCAP files

The stage is set for the semifinals of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines' 3rd conference

The Laguna Heroes and the Iloilo Kisela Knights withstood their respective opponents on Wednesday, November 17, to advance to the semifinals of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines’ (PCAP) season-ending 3rd Conference held via online platform.

Anchored by the Grandmaster pair of Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla Jr and John Paul Gomez, the Laguna Heroes dominated the guest squad Davao Chess Wizards in two sets, 16-5 and 14.5-6.5.

The Iloilo Knights, powered by the iconic GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr and former child prodigy Karl Victor Ochoa, went to Armageddon playoff to overcome the tough Toledo City Trojans, 12-9, 10.5-10.5, and 3-0, and clinch a semifinal berth.

Considered as the luckiest team after making the quarterfinals despite a six-game losing streak late in the second round elimination, the Camarines Soaring Eagles did it again by moving forward at the expense of Southern division pacesetter Philippine Paralympic team.

Bannered by US-based GM Mark Paragua and rapid expert Ellan Asuela, the last quarterfinal qualifier Camarines surprised the Para chessers, 11-10 and 12-9, in the biggest turnaround of this foreign-laced conference.

“Barely qualifying after we tied them at 8-15 with them prevailing in tiebreaker despite losing their last six matches, the CamSur bets were indeed very lucky as GM Paragua finally showed up in time to lead the team’s semis bid,” said Surigao Fianchetto’s team-playing owner Arena Grandmaster Rey Urbiztondo.

“Obviously, the Para team’s key players were also exhausted as they just came from a 10-day battle in the 4th World Chess Championship for people with disabilities where they managed to take the bronze,” added Urbiztondo, referring to the Para foursome of AGM Henry Roger Lopez, Fide Master Sander Severino, and National Masters Jasper Rom and Darry Bernardo.

Rom later told Rappler that they were indeed caught off-guard.

“GM Paragua suddenly showed up for Camarines and we had difficulty adjusting from the world tourney’s long game format. I was a piece up in three of my four matches but failed to convert them. Our senior player Joselito Cada was also defaulted on board 4. The breaks of the games just went to CamSur’s side,” Rom said.

Caloocan, reinforced by the youthful tandem of World Cup-bound IM Paulo Bersamina and PCAP All-Filipino best player IM Gem Garcia, survived the GM Ino Sadorra-led Manila Indios Bravos in a head-on clash, 0-3 and 13-8, that was settled in Armageddon duel, 2-1.

Lapu-lapu also upset Singapore, 9-12, 13.5-7.5, and 2-1.

Other matches saw Pasig overpower Rizal Batch Towers, 16-5 and 17.5-3.5, and the San Juan Predators blasting the Isabela’s Knights of Alexander, 15.5-5.5 and 18-3.

Also, Malaysia’s Penang squad waylaid the strong Negros Kingsmen in the Armageddon, 10-11, 12-9, and 3-0, to remain as the only contender among four foreign guest teams in the exciting semifinals.

“Very exciting quarterfinal matches. This is just the first time that exciting games were decided in an impressive number of Armageddon plays,” said PCAP commissioner Paul Elauria.

Dueling it out in the knockout semis round on Saturday, November 20, are Pasig and Caloocan, while Laguna will tangle with San Juan for the North division. Camarines will battle Penang, Malaysia, while Lapu-Lapu will face Iloilo in the Southern division. –