MANILA, Philippines – In basketball, the saying in the vernacular is, “bilog ang bola.”
For chess, it’s “mahiwaga ang board.”
True enough, the Iriga Oragons have struggled to compete since the inaugural All-Filipino Cup and in this current Wesley So Cup of the Reinforced Conference of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines.
Hope, however, springs eternal in this city also known for its phreatic water explosions as its chess team, the Iriga Oragons have exploded for three wins in four matches.
Last Monday evening, June 21, Iriga split its matches. Although they fell to Pasig in the Monday night opener, 13-8, they gave the King Pirates quite a battle as they rallied but fell short in rapid play behind wins by American import FM Justus Williams and NM Glennen Artuz.
Iriga bounced back in the second match of the Monday night doubleheader as they handed Olongapo a 14-7 loss to show their two wins from last Saturday, June 19 was no fluke.
Against the Olongapo Rainbow Team 7, the Oragons led, 4-3, after blitz chess but turned on the jets in rapid play with six players — once more led by Williams and Artuz along with lady player Johnlyn Buenaventura, and homegrown players Roger Pesimo and Emil Valeza taking points.
Iriga’s 10-4 showing gave them a 14-7 final tally for their fourth win in 21 matches.
Their twin kills last Saturday saw them take down Rizal, 14-7, and Quezon, 12-9.
The Oragons have drawn strength from their homegrown boards with Valeza (16-4-22), Joeven Polsotin (13-5-17), and Artuz (11-5-26) leading the way with double digit wins.
Said Iriga team owner Atty. Robert Nocom of the Oragons’ renaissance, “It was a conscious and concerted effort by the whole team to wake up and do better. I always tell them to believe in themselves and to play their best in every game. They decided to go all-in now that the tourney has gone half-way. We’re happy that this happened when our more fancied sister team Camarines had a bad Saturday night. At least Team Iriga held the Bicolano pride up high.”
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