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Sports

San Juan Knights rule over Iloilo to claim PCAP All-Filipino crown

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
San Juan Knights rule over Iloilo to claim PCAP All-Filipino crown
The San Juan Knights
Courtesy of Rick Olivares

MANILA, Philippines — The San Juan Knights are the San Miguel-All Filipino Cup champions of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines.

They are the first two-time league champions and the second team to win the prestigious All-Filipino tournament; back-to-back winners at that. 

They did so by blanking the Iloilo Kisela Knights, 2-0, in the Finals on Saturday.

Did you honestly think they were going to win?

Sure, they won their first eight matches of the competition. Then they ran into the souped-up Pasig King Pirates who handled them quite well. 

Three weeks later, they were blanked in one playdate for the first time losing to Iloilo and Davao. 

Then Toledo dumped them and the King Pirates took the second meeting in the elimination round. 

Now, there was a seed of doubt that was planted that maybe, just maybe, their time was up and perhaps, it was now Pasig’s moment, or even the Kisela Knights who operated with the added benefit of gliding into the playoffs like a shark, as all attention was on Pasig. 

Since that second elimination round loss to Pasig, San Juan won three matches to enter the playoffs on a winning note. 

From there on, they rattled off eight consecutive wins as the playoffs are a best-of-three affair. They never dropped a set.  

In set one of the Grand Finals against Iloilo, San Juan’s top four boards carried the team in blitz play for a 5-2 lead. 

Come rapid play, every single player on the Predators’ line-up chipped in at least one point to 11-3 romp for a 16-5 win.

The second set was another story. 

With their backs to the wall, Iloilo’s top three boards roared to life taking all the points in blitz chess. It was San Juan’s maligned homegrown players who managed to pull the team abreast, 3.5-3.5.

In rapid play, San Juan knotted the score once more at 7.5-all to send the game into Armageddon. 
FM Arden Reyes and GM Oliver Barbosa got the better of Karl Viktor Ochoa and GM Joey Antonio respectively to take the set, and the championship.

Barbosa took five of the seven points available from his match-ups while Reyes claimed 4.5 points from the seven possible points.

San Juan’s homegrown players took a 10-8 advantage from all points available. 

The Predators’ senior player, Ricky de Guzman, and lady player, Jan Jodilyn Fronda had the best scores of all as they both took five of the six points against NM Cesar Mariano and Cherry Ann Meija respectively. 

It was a win of redemption for San Juan who heard talk that the reason why they won last year’s Open Conference against Iloilo was because the latter had internet connection problems. 

They have heard the talk that Pasig was the team of destiny.

Now, they have silenced the critics as they have ascended the summit of professional chess in the Philippines once more. 

They are once more kings and they have made PCAP and Philippine sports history. 

CHESS

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