MANILA, Philippines – The Pasig Pirates have flexed their muscles in the preseason and are making a serious bid to win their first-ever Wesley So Cup of the maiden Professional Chess Association of the Philippines season.
The King Pirates finished seventh in the Northern Division with a 17-17 record to make the playoffs. But they were quickly ushered out by the San Juan Predators in two games in the quarterfinals.
Now, with the strong backing of Mayor Vico Sotto, who unleashed popular support in voting the entire team to the recently concluded PCAP All-Star Game, as well as two Asian Grandmasters in tow, Pasig is making as bold move to win it all.
Pasig has added Singaporean Grandmaster Kevin Goh and Mongolian GM Gombosuren Munkhgal. The team can only use either play as an alternate as league rules allow only one foreign player per game.
Goh is a seven-time Singaporean champion and has represented his country in the Chess Olympiad since 2004. He also has two bronze medals in Southeast Asian Games chess competition.
Munkhgal, on the other hand, was the Mongolian champion in 2016 and has competed for his country in four Chess Olympiads.
Pasig has also added three homegrown players in Kevin Arquero, Cromwell Sabado and Jaymarc Gutierrez to the core of their two Filipino GMs in Roland Salvador and Darwin Laylo, IM Eric Labog Jr., WIM Sherily Cua, NM Rudy Ibanez and Gerry Paul Nudalo.
The King Pirates are coached by Franco Camillo and Expedito Bolico with Nana Espina Alonso as the team manager.
Camillo said that many of their players were rather rusty during the recently concluded All-Filipino Conference where fellow northern team, Laguna, emerged triumphant in the grand finals.
“Most of our players are balik-laro,” said Camillo, who also in the same breath said it is no excuse as are many others in the league. “Sherily Cua last played 10 years ago as she is a practicing lawyer. GM Roland hasn’t also played in a while as he is working in Milan, Italy. It is also the same for the others.”
In the Wesley So Cup, which begins this May 15, the Pasig City King Pirates are now ready to compete.