SAN Juan Predators made history by beating perennial rival Iloilo Kisela Knights, 16-5 and 10.5-10.5 (2-1) in their two-match title showdown and winning the 2022 PCAP All-Filipino Conference over the weekend.
United States-based GM Oliver Barbosa, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda and former Asian junior champion IM Ricardo de Guzman shone brightest for the Predators, who asserted their mastery over the Kisela Knights in their third straight championship battle.
In winning the championship, San Juan became the first team to win back-to-back titles in four conferences of PCAP since its establishment last year.
The Predators of team owner Michael Angelo Chua and coach Hubert Estrella also underscored their billing as the winningest team in the league with two titles, one runner-up and one fourth-place finishes.
Barbosa outduelled GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr., 3-1, including their all-important Armageddon battle that clinched the win for San Juan in the three-game playoffs.
Equally impressive was Fronda, who overpowered WFM Cherry Ann Mejia, 3-0, in their first match and 2-1, in the second encounter in the female board; and De Guzman, who outclassed NM Cesar Mariano, 3-0 and 2-1, in the senior board.
FM Narquinden Reyes provided the other victory for San Juan in the three-game playoffs against former world youth campaigner Karl Victor Ochoa.
The Reyes-Ochoa match turned out to be the most exciting which ended into a rook versus rook endgame.
But the black-playing Reyes held out long enough despite less time on the clock and forced a draw on the 50-move rule with only 1.2 seconds left on his clock.
The draw with black secured the Armageddon win for Reyes and the title to the Predators.
NM Rolly Parondo, Jr. averted a shutout for Iloilo when he forced FM Nelson Mariano to a draw, which is an Armageddon loss in their playoff match.
San Juan’s homegrown players, led by the Reyes brothers, also took a 10-8 advantage from all the points available.
Overall, San Juan finished with a 29-5 win-loss record in the elimination round.
The Predators then swept Isabela Knight Raiders, 13.5-7.5 and 18-3, in the quarterfinals; and Manila Indios Bravos, 16-5 and 15-6 in the semis.
San Juan defeated Pasig PIrates, 11.5-9.5 and 11.5-9.5, in the North finals.
In the battle for third place, Northern Division elimination round topnotcher Pasig Pirates defeated the Davao Eagles, 13-8.
IM Cris Ramayrat outwitted NM Alex Lupian, 2.5-.5, and NM Eric Labog blanked NM Henry Lopez, 3-0, to lead the Pirates’ victory.
PCAP, the country’s first and only play-for-pay chess league, is headed by Atty. Paul Elauria as President- Commissioner; Michael Angelo Chua as Chairman; Dr. Ariel Potot as Vice Chairman and Atty. Arnel Batungbakal as Treasurer.
The tournament is sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra, and supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), led by Chairman/President Prospero “Butch” Pichay.