The Laguna Heroes bounced back from a stinging defeat to the Caloocan Loadmanna Knights by crushing the Caavite Spartans, 17.5-3.5, to reclaim the share of the North lead in the first Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) All-Filipino Conference.
Many-time Battle of the Grandmasters champion GM Banjo Barcenilla overpowered Marc Paraguya to set the tone for the one-sided triumph.
Also delivering wins for the Heroes were FM Austin Jacob Literatus, Kimel Lorenzo, Karen Enriquez and GM John Paul Gomez.
The win enabled the Heroes to tie at the helm with the Knights and the Juan Predators with 23-4 records.
Meanwhile, the Surigao Fianchetto Checkmates, one of the only two teams coming from Mindanao, are looking to make the region proud by making the playoffs.
Spearheaded by Olympiad veterans FIDE Master Vince Alaan and Cesar Caturla, the Checkmates are currently running ninth in the Southern Conference with a 7-20 (win-loss) card, or just two games behind No. 8 Cordova, Cebu with 9-18, going into the final nine-game stretch of the regular season.
“In our hearts, we’re deeply honored to represent Mindanao along with the Zamboanga team in the inaugural season of this professional chess league,” said Rey Urbiztondo, one of the pillars of the Surigao squad who recently shocked International Master Barlo Nadera.
For Surigao to make it, it would have to win most, if not all, its last nine matches including those against Mindoro, Palawan, Toledo, Cebu, Iloilo and Lapu Lapu.
Its final three rounds will be versus Negros, Zamboanga and Camarines.
Other members of the team were Tyrone Alaan, Jayson Salubre, Jessa Mae Lisondra, Joselito Serna and Allan Diez, and homegrown bets Cyrus Donasco, Marcelito Penera, Rogelio Canoy and San Dro Ladion.