MANILA, Philippines – Last Saturday night, May 15, was an illustration of how sports can be cruel and that victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat.
On opening night of the Wesley So Cup of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines, the Manila Indios Bravos’ import — Indonesian International Master Yoseph Taher — was down to his last piece; a rook. His Laguna Heroes counterpart, Fide Master Austin Jacob Literatus playing black pieces, had two — a rook and a pawn.
With 0.3 seconds, Taher took Literatus’ pawn at G7. The pre-moving of the rook left Laguna’s Armageddon master too stunned to react as time ran out.
The match went Manila’s way, 2-1 in Armageddon, after both squads drew 10.5-all in blitz and rapid play.
It was the best match of the 12 played in the evening. Manila was without GM Ino Sadorra and IM Ronald Dableo while Laguna played import-less and without GM John Paul Gomez.
Laguna’s homegrown players stood tall with Arjie Bayangat and Vince Angelo Medina taking all three points each from their respective match-ups with Manila’s Christopher Rodriguez and Ryan Dungca.
The Indios Bravos’ Mira Mirano and Cris Ramayrat likewise took the points available against their tussles with Karen Enriquez and Efren Bagamasbad.
In the titanic tussle on Board 1 between Laguna’s GM Rogelio Barcenilla Jr. and Manila’s Yoseph Taher, the latter came away with a 2-1 split when the Indonesian won in blitz play.
Manila’s Jerome Balico also came away with a 2-1 win versus Kimuel Lorenzo to notch the score at 10.5-all after blitz and rapid play to send the outcome to Armageddon.
Laguna remained confident sans Gomez and an import. With Enriquez and Bagamasbad not having a good day on the boards, Medina was assigned Board 1 while Literatus as expected, went to Board 2. As he has shown a willingness to do so in the All-Filipino Cup, GM Barcenilla slid down to Board 3.
It was there where Manila sprung a surprise of their own as they fielded FM Deniel Causo against Medina in which the gambit worked. Barcenilla took Board 3 against Miciano leaving the result to the Literatus-Taher battle.
In the end, Manila broke Laguna’s string of four consecutive Armageddon wins — all from the All-Filipino Cup — to take their Wesley So Cup opener.
Although Bayangat lamented the loss, he and his teammates took heart that they know they could do better and perhaps, had they had a full line-up the outcome could have been different.
“Kung babalikan natin ang buong laro which is umabot ng 132 moves so talagang ang ganda ng laban,” exclaimed Laguna’s homegrown player who they consider their lucky charm. “Exchanges of blows sila (Literatus and Taher). Nakaka-proud din si FM AJ considering import yung kadikdikan niya pero katiting di man lang siya natinag. We gave them a good fight.”
In other results of the opening night in the Northern Division, San Juan defeated Antipolo, 15-6. Caloocan got some breathing room against Rizal, 12.5-8.5. Cagayan escaped Quezon City, 12-9. Cavite squeaked past Pasig 11-10.
Over at the Southern Division, the matches were mostly characterized by routs as Camarines pulverized Zamboanga 16.5-4.5 while Toledo thrashed Cebu, 15.5-5.5. Cordova left Surigao in the dust, 17-4, as did Iloilo with Palawan, 18-3. The division’s other power, Negros likewise crushed Iriga, 17-4. It was only the Lapu Lapu-Mindoro match that had was a close result with the former taking the win, 12-9.
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