San Juan Predators rule PCAP 3rd Conference in brilliant showing

Lynde Salgados
San Juan Predators rule PCAP 3rd Conference in brilliant showing

PERFECT. GM Oliver Barbosa completes a rare 6-of-6 performance in PCAP's championship round.

Contributed photo

San Juan spoils Iloilo's quest for back-to-back titles in the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines

So hungry for the title, the San Juan Predators won’t be denied this time as they found the missing piece to finally untangle the jigsaw puzzle that is the Iloilo Kisela Knights.

With the reinforcement of grizzled International Master Rolando Nolte, the San Juan Predators swept the Iloilo Knights, 19-2, 11.5-9.6 in the two-leg finale to clinch the 3rd Conference title of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) virtually held on Saturday night, November 27 via platform.

So impressive was San Juan’s rare perfect 7-0 start in blitz contest, followed by a 12-2 conquest in the first set’s rapid play, with only Iloilo’s heart and soul Grandmaster Rogelio Antonio Jr. escaping with a near shutout by outwitting Nolte with black in his bread and butter Caro-Kann defense.

Nolte may have only scored 1.5 points of a possible 6 in his head-on clash with Antonio on board 1, but his presence allowed GM Oliver Barbosa to slide on board 2 to take good care of former child prodigy Karl Victor Ochoa en route to Barbosa’s MVP-worthy 6-of-6 performance.

“It’s very unfortunate that all our Iloilo-based players are playing in one place and they are experiencing [internet] connection issues per our team managers,” said Iloilo team owner Leo Sotaridona following questions on the surprise opening-leg massacre.

Things did not change in the second set blitz matches as the Predators came up with another 5.5 to 1.5 triumph against their Wesley So Cup final match tormentor.

An intrepid combatant that he is, the winningest National Open champion Antonio did not crack under tremendous pressure as he buckled down to work to score his second straight victory in rapid tiff. 

And along with the wins of Woman International Master Cherry Ann Mejia, National Masters John Michael Silvederio, and Fritz Bryan Porras, the Kisela Knights prevailed, 8-6, though the efforts were not enough to force a tiebreaker.

The Predators’ total output of 11.5 points outweighed the Kisela Knights’ 9.5, thereby preventing a possible Armageddon playoff, and ending  Iloilo’s quest for a back-to-back title romp.

Completing San Juan’s winning cast are IM Ricardo De Guzman, Fide Master Narquingden Reyes, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Narciso Gumila, and Narquingel Reyes with team owner in PCAP chairman Michael Ong Chua.

In the battle for third place, the Caloocan LoadManna Knights overwhelmed  the Penang Blue Panthers from Malaysia, 14.5-6.6.

According to PCAP commissioner Paul Elauria, the season-ending conference highlighted the inherent chess talents of the Filipinos that left all four foreign guess squads from China, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia taking the exit door early in the championship round.

“Our foreign friends were really impressed that they’re looking forward to the next season,” Elauria told Rappler. –