SAN JUAN will set out as one of the top favorites in the 2021 Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) First Conference starting Jan. 16.
To be known as the San Juan Predators, the team will field a strong and talented team built around United States-based GM Oliver Barbosa and reigning national women’s champion WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda.
PCAP Chairman and San Juan Predators team owner Michael Angelo Chua, head coach-manager Hubert Estrella and consultant Simeon Co believe the team can perform well in the inaugural tournament of the first-ever professional chess league in the country.
San Juan gets its initial test when it takes on NM Merben Roque-led Lapu-Lapu City in one of 12 matches in the PCAP pre-season tournament on Jan. 9.
The 34-year-old Barbosa, who achieved his GM title in 2011, is currently the country’s third highest-rated player with an ELO of 2509 behind GMs Julio Sadorra (ELO 2564) and Mark Paragua ( ELO 2529).
A mainstay of the Philippine team to the World Chess Olympiad, Barbosa earned his first GM norm in the Asian Individual in Mashad, Iran and his second norm in the Philippines National Championships.
His most recent success was winning the 141st New York State Championship on Aug. 30-Sept.2, 2019.
Fronda is easily one of the country’s winningest female players.
The 27-year-old pride of Alaminos, Pangasinan crowned herself as the undisputed champion in the 2019 National Women’s Championship at the Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence (PACE) headquarters in Quezon City last Sept. 12, 2019.
Fronda is also a three-time UAAP MVP.
Backing up Barbosa and Fronda are FM Narquinden Reyes, who will play board two; IM Ricardo de Guzman, who will play board four as the team’s senior player; and Engr. Benjamin Esquejo, Narquingel Reyes and Narciso Gumila, who will man boards five to seven as the team’s homegrown standouts.
Team reserves are FM Christopher Castellano and AGM Gavin Lloyd Ong.
PCAP founding president- commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria said the PCAP pre-season competition on Jan. 9 is expected to give the teams the opportunity to gauge their strength exactly a week before the formal opening.
Elauria said the 24 teams divided into the North and South Divisions were randomly paired for the event.
Each team will field a total of seven players, with two titled players, one female, one senior and three homegrown players.
They will play one blitz ( 3+2) and one rapid (15 minutes play to finish).
Among the notable players who are also expected to see action are GMs Eugene Torre (Rizal), Rogelio Antonio Jr. (Iloilo), Julio Sadorra (Manila), Mark Paragua (Camarines), John Paul Gomez and Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr.(Cabuyao), Darwin Laylo and Roland Salvador (Pasig).
The competition is sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.