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Davao Chess Eagles join PCAP

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Davao Chess Eagles join PCAP

MANILA, Philippines – Goodbye Davao Chess Wizards. Hello Davao Chess Eagles.

Davao, which competed in last year’s PCAP Open Conference as a guest team known as the Chess Wizards and made the playoffs, has formalized its entry as the newest member of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines. This time, the team rebranded as the Chess Eagles.

The Chess Eagles made huge strides during the draft last Saturday by selecting some of the heavy hitters from the Philippine Paralympic Team that gave every team a run for its money in the Open Conference. Their first pick was IM Sander Severino, who was the Para team’s Board 1 player. 

Davao also selected other members of the Paralympics squad in NM Henry Lopez, FM Roel Abelgas and their team manager, NM James Infiesto.

Rounding out the rest of their selections were NM Jonathan Tan, NM Alexander Lupian, Aglipay Oberio, Arnel Aton, Mary Palero and Aladino Diez.

“The third conference was a memorable one,” reminisced Diez, who was a part of that historic Davao squad. “It was a rollercoaster ride, but highly memorable.”

The then-Chess Wizards started off the conference on a sour note as they won only five of their first 16 matches. 

In danger of not making the play-offs where the PCAP leadership deemed that even a guest squad could win the championship, Davao started a stirring turnaround. 

“At that point, we thought we had lost our chance to land at least at eight spot — which is the last slot to the semifinals — but we saved the best for last,” added Diez.

Davao went on a 7-0 run that included a stunning upset over league-leading San Juan Predators. The team finished the eliminations with a 12-11 record and landed in sixth spot.

Their win over San Juan likewise dropped the Predators to second spot in the northern division, giving the Pasig King Pirates the top seed. It mattered not as the Predators romped all the way to the conference championship. 

“Before that win streak, we had this unbelievable experience against the Manila Indios Bravos, another league heavyweight,” continued Diez of Davao’s showing. We lost all our blitz games and finished 0-7 going into rapid play. Then we rose from the dead in rapid play to gain a slim, 11-10, win. PCAP Commissioner Pau Elauria considered this as the best comeback in PCAP’s young history.”

With the rabbit out of the hat, every team knows what the Davao Chess Eagles are capable of doing in this second season with the All-Filipino Conference tipping off on Saturday, January 22. 

“We’re excited,” emphasized Diez. “And we’re definitely ready.”

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