TWO-TIME champion San Juan Predators brought down defending champion Iloilo Kisela Knights by the slimmest of margins, 11-10, in another heavyweight battle in the 2022 PCAP-GM Wesley So Cup chess team championships last Wednesday.
GM Victor Moskalenko and WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda provided the much-needed victories for the Predators of PCAP president Michael Angelo Chua and coach Hubert Estrella in the 24-team, two-group tournament sponsored by San Miguel Corporation, Ayala Land and PCWorx.
Moskalenko outduelled GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. while Fronda subdued WFM Cherry Ann Mejia — both with 2.5-.5 scores — as the Predators repeated. over the Kisela Knights in a virtual rematch of their title showdown last year.
Moskalenko, the Ukrainian-Spanish import of San Juan, pounced on a premature rook sacrifice by Antonio to escape with the win in their highly- anticipated encounter at board four.
Also delivering the points for San Juan was IM Rolando Nolte, who edged Karl Victor Ochoa, 2-1, in their board two encounter.
That was enough for San Juan to clinch an 8-6 win in rapid chess and an 11-20 decision overall.
It was San Juan’s fifth win in nine match-ups against Iloilo.The.Predators are the only squad with a winning record against the Kisela Knights.
Coupled with a 19-2 win over Pagadian earlier in the the day, San Juan vaulted into a tie for second place with Caloocan Load Manna Knights with 18-5 win-loss records behind only Pasig Pirates in the Northern Division.
Pasig completed a twinkill with 18.5-2.5 win over Tacloban Vikings and 16-5 triumph over Pagadian.
Caloocan, on the other hand, suffered back-to-back losses to Davao Eagles, 7.5-13.5, and Zamboanga Sultans, 8.5-12.5.
Over at the Southern Division, Iloilo still leads the way with a 21-2 record with Davao breathing down their necks at 19-4 slate.
Before the loss to San Juan, Iloilo eked out a 10.5-10.5 (3-0 in Armageddon) decision over Laguna Heroes.
The Kisela Knight took a 6.5-.5 win in blitz, but the Heroes battled back with 10-4 triumph in rapid to send the game into Armageddon.
GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan outwitted GM Rogelio Barcenilla Jr., Ochoa downed WIM Ummi Fisabilillah and Antonio crushed Richie Jocson in their three-game playoffs.
While Iloilo had a tough day, Davao swept its doubleheader against Caloocan, 13.5-7.5, and Laguna, 12-9, to tighten its grip on solo second place in the South.
Negros Kingsmen and Toledo Trojans also had double victories.
The Kingsmen edged Manila Indios Bravos, 10.5-10.5 (2-1 Armageddon) and Cagayan Kings, 16.5-4.5, for a 17-6 record.
The Trojans outsteadied Rizal Towers, 13.5-7.5, and Isabela Knight Raiders, 17-4, for 15-8 slate.
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
Standings after 23 rounds:
North — Pasig 20-3; Caloocan 18-5, San Juan 18-5; Cagayan 15-8; Laguna 14-9; Manila 12-10*; Cavite 12-11; Isabela 10-13; Rizal 7-16; Quezon City 7-16; Mindoro 7-16; Olongapo 1-22.
South — Iloilo 21-2; Davao 19-4; Negros 17-6, Surigao 16-6*; Toledo 15-8, Zamboanga 14-9; Camarines-Iriga 10-13; Tacloban 7-16; Palawan 5-18, Cebu 5-18; Cagayan de Oro 4-19; Pagadian 1-22.
* — One unfinished game