CEBU CITY – The Negros Kingsmen poised not much of a problem for the Cordova Dutchess Dagami Warriors as the Cebu-based squad clinched the division finals seat following a 2-0 win in the Southern Division semifinal round of the 2021 Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) Wesley So Cup Conference last Saturday.
Cordova trounced Negros with a 13.5 to 7.5 win in the first set then followed it up with a 12-9 bashing on the second set to advance to the conference finals against its All-Filipino Conference playoffs first-round tormentor Iloilo Kisela Knights.
The Dagami Warriors were struggling in the Blitz events in the first set as they lost 4.5 to 2.5. Mario Mangubat and Allan Pason were responsible for lighting up the scoreboard of Cordova Dutchess in Boards 4 and 7 respectively and WIM Bernadette Galas managed a draw in Board 3.
However, things dramatically changed in the Rapid games as the South top seeds pumped up the heat with Israeli GM Nitzan Steinberg lead an 11-3 blast to wrap the first set. The PCAP vice-chairman Ariel Potot-owned Dagami Warriors then scored two wins and had four draws in the Blitz events of the second set and posted four wins against three loses in the Rapid matches in a division final clinching victory.
In contrast, Iloilo had to undergo two Armageddon matches before disposing of the second seed Camarines Soaring Eagles in the other south semifinal pairing. Both teams ended the first set with 10.5 to 10.5 scores that forged the first Armageddon match, which was eventually won by the Soaring Eagles 2-1.
Iloilo then won the second set 12.5 to 8.5 forcing the second Armageddon match. This time Armenian GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan and Karl Victor Ochoa towed the Kisela to a 2-1 win to get back and eliminate Camarines. Camarines eliminated Iloilo in the AFC Division Finals last March.
Up north, conference top finishers San Juan Predators eliminated Antipolo Cobras following a 2-0 win while All-Filipino Conference winners Laguna Heroes booted out second seed Manila Indios Bravos following the win in the Armageddon match to determine who will advance to the North Division Conference Finals against the Predators.
Laguna defeated Manila 12-9 in the opening set but Manila returned the favor with its own version of a 12-9 victory that forged an Armageddon tie break match.
Laguna then sent an all-GM squad in the Armageddon match – resulting in Ukrainian GM Kirill Shevchenko and Rogelio Barcenilla beating Daniel Causo and Jerome Balico while Manila’s Indonesian reinforcement Yoseph Taher prevailed over GM John Paul Gomez as the score settled at 2-1 with the Heroes advancing to the North Division Finals. RCM