MANILA, Philippines – If we are to go by the ancient battle between Greece and the city state of Troy, the Trojans were beaten by the combined Greek forces on a gambit that caught the former by surprise.
Today, in these playoff battles in the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP), it was fifth-seeded the Toledo Trojans who pulled off the surprise and the upset of the quarterfinals when they sent fourth seed Zamboanga packing.
All season long, if one talked about the southern division, most likely it would be about the Iloilo Kisela Knights, Negros Kingsmen, or the Camarines Soaring Eagles.
The Toledo Trojans?
Yes, they are a PCAP team and they are located in Cebu as are fellow Cebuano squads Cordova and Lapu Lapu City.
The team finished fifth in PCAP south with a 20-14 record — one match behind fourth seed Zamboanga Sultans.
While all the favorites advanced handily, it was the fourth and fifth seeds from both the north and south divisions that offered some of the best matches.
Over at the north, the Manila Indios Bravos had to win via Armageddon to beat the Rizal Batch Towers, 2-1. Over at the south, Toledo pulled the rug from under the Sultans to advance to the southern division semifinals on Saturday, March 27, against heavy favorites Iloilo, which simply smashed Cordova.
Said Jeah Jean Gacang, Toledo team owner, “During the eliminations, we were fourth or fifth but we lost our games to Zamboanga right before the play-offs (dropping us to fifth). The amazing part is, we never won against them during the eliminations.”
“Somehow, losing to Zamboanga (during the eliminations) was a blessing in disguise,” added Gacang. “Because of that, the eagerness of the team to rise above the occasion was tripled. It was a big deal for the team to win against Zamboanga.”
Toledo features a lineup of only one ranked player in IM Rico Mascarinas. Save for lady player Jinky Catulay who hails from Negros (although she did play for the University of San Carlos), all of Toledo’s players are from Cebu.
Gacang bared that the majority of the players have roots in Toledo giving the Trojans real homegrown pride.
The eagerness and pride manifested when the games got going.
In Game One against Zamboanga, the Sultans’ NM Joey Albert Florendo and IM Chito Garma got them off to a good start with wins against their counterparts in blitz play. But Toledo got crucial points from Jinky Catulay and Mascarinas that evened it up. The players down the line cancelled each other out for a 3.5-all draw heading into rapid play.
Once in rapid play and the two points that comes with each win, Toledo’s Rommel Ganzon shocked Florendo while Catulay continued her play-off mastery against Zamboanga’s Sarah Chua. That offset Garma’s Board 2 win against the Trojan’s Rogelio Enriquez Jr.
The difference now was down the line where Mascarinas drew with Dr. Jenny Mayor, 1-1, and Glicerio Pardillo Jr. and Richard Natividad picked up huge wins to give Toledo the Game 1 12.5-8.5 victory.
For Game Two, Florendo and Garma switched board positions and it helped Zamboanga, but still Toledo got the bottom of their order to contribute mightily for a 12-9 win that sent then to the next round.
“We got the win because of teamwork,” underscored Gacang. “Our members have each other’s back and we help one another. In the eliminations, we suffered some losses because of poor internet connection. We resolved that for this play-offs and what also helped was a sponsor, Xignex Digital Solutions owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Signe offered his business place to become our team’s venue.”
While the euphoria of the win will carry to Saturday’s match with Iloilo, Team Toledo knows they will have their hands full against a locked and loaded lineup led by GM Joey Antonio.
“The team acknowledged that Iloilo is a powerhouse team and we did not win a game against them in the eliminations,” summed up Gacang. “It’s like going to war against Goliath. However, we’re still driven to give it our best shot. There is no turning back. Being part of the semi-finals is already an achievement. Also, they always go back as to why they joined Team Toledo and PCAP — and that is to raise chess awareness in the city and to produce masters and titled players from Toledo.”
Now, all that remains to be seen is if their Trojan Gambit, or now, team of Davids, can slay Goliath.
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com