AN early battle of favorites will highlight the opening of the 2021 PCAP San Miguel Corporation-Ayala Land chess team championships on Wednesday.
PCAP-GM Wesley So Cup champion Iloilo Kisela Knights will open their bid for back-to-back titles when they take on the Palawan Queen’s Gambits in one of 10 matches in the seaosn-ending tournament organized by the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP).
Other opening-day matches will pit PCAP All-Filipino champion Laguna Heroes against Manila Indios Bravos, Caloocan Load Manna Knights against San Juan Predators, Cagayan Kings against Rizal Towers, Cavite Spartans against Pasig Pirates and Isabela Knight Raiders against Olongapo Rainbow in the North; and Cebu City Machers against Toledo Trojans, Cordova Dagami Warriors against Surigao Fianchetto Checkmates, Iriga Oragons against Negros Kingsmen and Lapu-Lapu Naki Warriors against Mindoro Tamaraws in the South.
The 11th team in the South — Camarines Eagles — drew a bye.
“After the awarding ceremony for the winners of the GM Wesley So Cup, the games of our third conference will begin right away,” said PCAP president- commissioner Atty. Paul Elauria.
“We again expect exciting matches in both the North adn South divisions,” added Elauria.
Elauria also confirmed that three member-teams — Antipolo Cobras, Quezon City Simba’s Tribe and Zamboanga Sultans — took a leave of absence in the third conference.
The Kisela Knights, bannered by GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. and Karl Victor Ochoa and WFM Cherry Ann Mejia, are favored to beat the all-female Queen’s Gambits team of playing coach Susan Grace Neri, WIM Shania Mae Mendoza and WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego.
Iloilo brought down the San Juan Predators, 13-8 and 11.5-9.5, in an entertaining two-match showdown pitting the South and North Division champions to win the crown last month.
The Leo Sotaridona-managed Kisela Knights have retained the nucleus of their winning team, including NMs Cesar Mariano, John Michael Silvederio and Fritz Bryan Porras.
Palawan, which barely missed the quarterfinals last month, added Jesibel Maberit and Ludivina Nadera to its all-female line-up.
Tournament format is single-round elimination with the top eight teams advancing to the next stage. They will be joined by four foreign and three local guest teams.
The foreign teams are China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Also seeing action as guest teams are the Philippine Paralympics chess team, the Davao Eagles and the Pampanga Checkers.
PCAP is headed by Elauria, Chairman Michael Angelo Chua and Vice Chairman Ariel Potot.
The prestigious professional tournament is sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitraand supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), led by Chairman-President Prospero “Butch” Pichay.