THE best teams prevailed in the knockout semifinals of the 2021 Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) All-Filipino tournament over the weekend.
Top seed Laguna Heroes and No. 2 seed San Juan Predators pulled off similar hard-earned victories over their respective semifinal opponents to arrange a titular showdown in the Northern Division.
GM Rogelio Barcenila, Jr. outwitted GM Julio Catalino Sadorra and GM John Paul Gomez humbled IM Cris Ramayrat as Laguna defeated the Manila Indios Bravos in their Armageddon encounter.
FM Austin Jacob Literatus drew with FM Deniel Causo, but also earned the full point for the Dr. Fred Paez-managed Heroes with a draw with the disadvantageous black pieces.
Overall, Laguna finished off Manila, 3-0, in their three-game playoffs.
The two teams split their regular matches, with Manila winning the first set, 12-9, and Laguna drawing even in the second set, 13-8.
That set up the Armageddon matches. which Laguna easily won.
Sharing the limelight was San Juan, which also needed a victory in their Armageddon showdown against No. 3 seed Caloocan Load Manna Knights.
GM Oliver Barbosa, Arden Reyes and IM Ricardo de Guzman provided the much-needed victories for the Predators of team owner Michael Angelo Chua and coach Hubert Estrella.
The high-scoring San Juan trio of Barbosa, Reyes and De Guzman got the better of the Caloocan troika of IM Paulo Bersamina, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Nelson Villanueva in two Armageddon encounters, 2-1, to earn the right to meet Laguna in the finals.
Actually, Caloocan took the first of the two-set encounter, 12-9, but San Juan kept its hopes alive, 10-5-10.5.
In the Southern Division, top seed Iloilo Kisela Knights slammed the door on Toledo City Trojans, 10.5-10.5 and 15.5-5.5, while No. 2 seed Camarines Soaring Eagles eliminated No. 3 Negros Kingsmen, 13-8 and 12-9.
The GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr.-led Kisela Knights defeated the Trojans, 2-1, in their Armageddon encounter before repeating easily in the second set.
Both the Kingsmen and Trojans reported internet problems during their semifinal matches.
PCAP president-commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria said the Northern and Southern Division finals will be played on Wednesday, March 31.
The champions will then dispute the overall title in the prestigious 34-team tournament supported by San Miguel Corporation.
The competition is sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra, and supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCP), led by Chairman/President Prospero “Butch” Pichay.
The division finals:
Northern Conference — No. 1 Laguna Heroes vs. No. 2 San Juan Predators.
Southern Conference — No. 1 Iloilo Kisela Knights vs. No. 2 Camarines Soaring Eagles.