EXPECT a close fight when the 2021 Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) finally gets underway on Saturday with all 24 teams in action.
Pre-tournament favorites San Juan Predators and Laguna Heroes begin their campaigns against separate opponents in the opening weekend of the country’s first-ever play-for-pay chess league.
Games will begin at 7 p.m.
San Juan, bannered by GM Oliver Barbosa and WIM Jodilyn Fronda, take on the Antipolo Cobras, while Laguna, led by GMs John Paul Gomez and Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. will square off with the Rizal Towers in a pair of exciting season-opening matches.
The Manila Indios Bravos of GM Julio Sadorra and IM John Marvin Miciano also open their campaign against the Cavite Spartans.
San Juan, Laguna and Manila emerged as the early favorites based in their performances in the pre-season games held last Jan. 9.
The Hubert Estrella-mentored Predators demolished Lapu-Lapu, 19.5-1-5, in their 14-game showdown in rapid and blitz chess.
Laguna whipped Iriga City Oragons, 15-6, and Manila humbled Iloilo Kisela Kings, 13-8, in other decisive pre-season matches.
The complete first-round match-ups:
Antipolo Cobras vs. San Juan Predators
Laguna Heroes vs. Rizal Towers
Cagayan Kings vs. Pasig Pirates
Caloocan Load Manna Knights vs. Quezon City
Isabela Knight Raiders vs. Olongapo Rainbow Team 7
Cavite Spartans vs. Manila Indios Bravos
Camarines Soaring Eagles vs. Zamboanga Sultans
Cebu City Machers vs. Toledo City Trojans
Cordova Dagami Warriors vs. Surigao Fianchetto Checkmates
Iloilo Kisela Knights vs. Palawan Queen’s Gambit
Iriga Oragons vs. Negros Kingsmen
Lapu-Lapu Naki Warriors vs Mindoro Tamaraws.
Notable individual first-round matchups will pit Gomez (Laguna) against Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre (Rizal); GM Mark Paragua (Camarines) against IM Chito Garma (Zamboanga); GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. (Iloilo) against WIM Shania Mae Mendoza (Palawan); GM Darwin Laylo (Pasig) against Jake Tumaliuan (Cagayan); IM Paulo Bersamina (Caloocan) against IM Oliver Dimakiling (Quezon City); and IM Rico Mascarinas (Toledo) against NM Elwin Retanal (Cebu).
Torre, who also made history by becoming the first player to be given a professional chess license, did not play in Rizal’s 13-8 victory over Cordova in their pre-season match last Jan. 9.
Paragua, who lost to Bersamina in their pre-season mini-match last week, is hoping to get a good start for Camarines against Garma.
Antonio, who was held to a draw by Miciano in their board one encounter, will go for the early victory against Palawan top bet Mendoza.
PCAP founding president-commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria said the players will play two games — one rapid and one blitz.
A victory in rapid chess is worth two points,a draw one point and a loss zero.
In blitz, the winner gets one point. A draw is worth half point and loss zero.
The 24-team tournament is supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), headed by Chairman/President Prospero “Butch” Pichay, and sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), led by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.