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Iloilo bags Wesley So Cup

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Iloilo bags Wesley So Cup
En route to the playoffs, Iloilo ceded the southern division to Cordova even with weeks to play as they tried out various strategies in playing opposing teams.

MANILA, Philippines – The team that didn’t care where they finished in the standings is the last team standing. And the newest champion of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines’ Wesley So Cup are the Iloilo Kisela Knights.

En route to the playoffs, Iloilo ceded the southern division to Cordova even with weeks to play as they tried out various strategies in playing opposing teams. And along the way, the 27-7 Kisela Knights defeated three higher-seeded teams — Camarines, Cordova and now, San Juan. 

Their giant-killing prowess on display, Iloilo pierced the close to invincible side of the San Juan Predators, 13-8 and 11.5-9.5, to claim PCAP’s second conference title.

The tag team of National Master Fritz Porras and Dennis Bernas stifled San Juan’s Grandmaster Oliver Barbosa; a key strategy that helped them pull out the win. 

Furthermore, the points accrued by Karl Ochoa and Iloilo’s resident GM Joey Antonio on the Predators’ Spanish import, GM Viktor Moskalenko, paved the way. With the two big guns of San Juan shut down, Iloilo’s import Hungarian GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan delivered killer blows as he took five of six available points from his opponent.

San Juan led, 5-2, after blitz play in the first set. Come rapid play, they fell apart, 11-3, as three players could only get points off draws.

Iloilo took the first set, 13-8.

The Kisela Knights pressed their advantage in the second set as they took blitz play, 4.5-2.5.

Needing to come up huge in rapid play to get a win and force Armageddon, the shut out of Barbosa and Moskalenko was costly as San Juan managed only a 7-7 draw but fell, 11.5-9.5 to give Iloilo the title.

“For the team to recover and come back very strong in rapid play after a discouraging first game is a testament to the team’s never-say-die attitude,” underscored Iloilo team owner Leo Sotaridona. 

It was a painful loss for San Juan that posted the league’s best ever record with a 31-3 record. And for the second conference in a row, they lost to the Kisela Knights for a podium finish.

In the All-Filipino Cup they fell to Iloilo in the battle for third place.

And now, the Iloilo Kisela Knights — GM Joey Antonio, GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan, WFM Cherry Ann Meija, Cesar Mariano, Fritz Porras, Dennis Bernas, NM John Michael Silvederio, Karl Viktor Ochoa, Fiona Guirhem, Mark Jossel Mariano, GM Kamil Dragun and NM Giovanni Meija — are champions.

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