THE top favorites, led by San Juan Predators and Laguna Heroes, served notice of their title aspirations in the 2021 Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) pre-season games last Saturday.
Bannered by GM Oliver Barbosa and reigning national women’s champion WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, San Juan blasted Lapu-Lapu City, 19.5-1.5, in their 14-game pre-season match.
Barbosa drew both rapid and blitz games against NM Merben Roque in their board one encounter.
But Barbosa’s teammates — FM Narquinden Reyes, Fronda, IM Ricky de Guzman, Narquingel Reyes, NM Michael Gotel and AGM Gavin Ong — swept their respective matches from boards two to seven to underscore the Predators’ strong showing.
Fronda, a mainstay of the national women’s team, proved too strong for Cristy Cabungcag in their female board three showdown for San Juan of Michael Angelo Chua.
Equally impressive were Laguna Heroes, who crushed Iriga City Oragons, 15-6, on victory by GM John Paul Gomez over NM Glenn Artuz in their blitz game; and Manila Indios Bravos, who bucked the absence of GM Julio Sadorra to beat Iloilo Kisela Kings, 13-8.
Gomez defeated Artuz to power the Laguna Heroes of playing coach-owner Dr. Fred Paez and manager David Nithyananthan to victory over Iriga Oragons.
The Manila Indios Bravos relied on IM Marvin Miciano, who drew with GM Rogelio Antonio,Jr ( blitz) and NM Giovanni Mejia (rapid); and comebacking IM Cris Ramayrat, who swept NM Cesar Mariano for perfect three points in the senior board encounter.
Isabela also made its presence felt with a 16-5 decision over the all-female Palawan Queen’s Gambit.
Isabela’s local bet Alvin Aguinaldo swept WIM Catherine Perena-Secopito in blitz and WIM Shania Mae Mendoza in rapid.
In other results, it was Camarines over Caloocan, 14.5-6.5; Negros over Quezon City, 14-7; Zamboanga over Cagayan, 11-10; Toledo ove Antipolo, 12-9; Pasig over Cebu, 11-10, Rizal over Cordova, 13-8; Mindoro over Cavite, 13-5-7.5; and Olongapo over Surigao, 11-7
The pre-season competition produced several outstanding individual performances.
IM Paulo Bersamina of Caloocan upset GM Mark Paragua of Camarines in their two-game mini -match, winning in blitz and drawing in rapid.
Also hitting it big was national women’s team mainstay WIM Bernadette Galas of Cordova, who swept her blitz and rapid matches.
Galas’ teammate, NM Edsel Montoya, also won both matches against IM Rolando Nolte of Rizal.
Jake Tumaliuan, a little-known tricycle driver from Cagayan, surprised IM Chito Garma of Zamboanga in their encounter on board one.
Homegrown Jojo Foz of Cagayan also swept NM Zalfikar Sali of Zamboanga in both their blitz and rapid games.
Jason Visca of Cavite won over NM David Elorta of Mindoro in both blitz and rapid.
IM Eric Labog of Pasig outduelled NM Erwin Retanal of Cebu in a close encounter.
Based on the scoring system, a win in rapid chess is worth two points, a draw is one point and a loss is zero. Blitz chess result gives one point for a win, half point for a draw and zero for a loss.
Several top-rated players, however, decided to skip the pre-season competition and prepare for the formal opening on Jan. 16.
Among the notable players who begged off were Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre (Rizal), Julio Sadorra (Manila), Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. (Laguna) and Darwin Laylo (Pasig).
PCAP president-commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria said the pre-season games provided the opportunity to all 24 member-teams to gauge their strength before the actual opening of the tournament on Jan. 16.
The tournament is being sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.