BUOYED by the success of its All-Filipino Conference, the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) will return to the limelight with the staging of the Reinforced Conference starting May 15.
To be known as the GM Wesley So Cup, the tournament will be participated in by all 24 member-teams in both the Northern Division and Southern Division.
At stake in the prestigious tournament are trophies and cash prizes, with the champion receiving the lion’s share of P150,000.
The runner-up will pocket P75,000, the third placer will earn P40,000 and the fourth placer will get P20,000.
The top individual performers — Best Import, Player of the Conference, and Finals Most Valuable Player — will also receive P10,000 each.
All cash prizes will be shouldered by So, the Bacoor, Cavite-born Filipino champion who now plays for the United States.
PCAP Chairman Michael Angelo Chua and President-Commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria said So has agreed to shoulder the cash prizes as his way of showing his “love and support to Filipino chess players.”
Elauria also said each team will be allowed to field one foreign player who may be assigned to any of the two top-rated boards.
If the foreign player, however, is female or senior, she or he must still meet the PCAP’s qualifications.
The top-rated players will also not be allowed to slide down to the lower or homegrown boards.
All teams will again play a minimum of 34 games, the same format used in the recent All-Filipino Conference.
The top eight teams in each division will advnce to the quarterfinal round where the No. 1 team will meet the No. 8 team.
Among the teams to watch are newly-crowned PCAP All-Filipino champion Laguna Heroes, led by GMs Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. and John Paul Gomez; and and runner-up Camarines Soaring Eagles, bannered by GM Mark Paragua.
The other teams seeing action in the North are the San Juan Predators, Caloocan Load Manna Knights, Manila Indios Bravos, Rizal Towers, Cavite Spartans, Pasig Pirates, Antipolo Cobras, Isabela Knight Raiders, Olongapo Rainbow, Quezon Cty Simba’ s Tribe and Cagayan Kings.
Aside from Camarines, the other teams in the South are Iloilo Kisela Knights, Negros ingsmen, Zamboanag City Sultans, Toledo City Trojans, Lapu-Lapu City Naki Warriors, Mindoro Tamaraws, Cordova Dagami Warriors, Surigao Fianchetto Checkmates, Cebu City Machers, Palawan Queen’s Gambits and Iriga City Oragons.
PCAP is the first government-licensed professional chess league sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.