MANILA – Laguna and San Juan set up their Northern Division Final date, while it is going to be Iloilo versus Camarines in the Southern Division Final following the results of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) All-Filipino Conference division semifinals on Saturday night.
The South final was first set after the Kisela Knights and the Soaring Eagles swept their opponents in the national quarterfinals.
Iloilo defeated Toledo in straight sets but not without some Set 1 drama that had an anti-climactic ending.
The Trojans shocked the Kisela Knights in Set 1 after forcing an Armageddon through a 10.5-all tie.
However, internet problems decided the Armageddon as homegrown talent Ricky Natividad lost his connection just as he was about to stun National Master Giovanni Mejia.
Grandmaster (GM) Joey Antonio gave Iloilo the first point after beating Rogelio Enriquez, but Toledo got one back as Rommel Ganzon beat Karl Ochoa, leaving the Natividad-Mejia match to decide the set.
Natividad was ahead on pieces and was poised to launch a time attack on Mejia, but his internet suddenly lagged, letting his opponent survive.
The Kisela Knights left no room for error after beating the Trojans in Set 2, 15.5-5.5.
The other quarterfinal pairing saw Camarines downing Negros, 13-8, 12-9.
On the other side of the playoff brackets, the Heroes and the Predators prevailed in Armageddon matches to set up their own showdown for the North pennant.
After both teams split the two regular sets, Laguna booked the first seat in the North final after sweeping Manila in their Armageddon matches.
At Board 1, Banjo Barcenilla took advantage of fellow GM Ino Sadorra's recent struggles during "panic time" to take the win.
At Board 2, AJ Literatus, despite only having his king and one pawn left with the black pieces, managed to force a draw against fellow FIDE Master (FM) Deniel Causo's white, giving the former the Armageddon win.
The other match saw GM John Paul Gomez just being three moves away from mating International Master (IM) Cris Ramayrat before the latter lost on time pressure.
Meanwhile, San Juan needed to win two Armageddon series to knock out Caloocan.
The Loadmanna Knights took Set 1, 12-9, but the Predators forced the first Armageddon after getting a 10.5-10.5 stalemate in Set 2.
San Juan forced the decider following wins from GM Oliver Barbosa and FM Arden Reyes to overshadow IM Jem Garcia's victory for Caloocan.
In the deciding Armageddon, Barbosa forced FM Nelson Villanueva to resign after 42 moves in the Queen's Pawn Opening Pseudo-Catalan Variation to put San Juan up front.
Garcia, however, checkmated IM Ricky De Guzman after 48 moves in the Torre Attack to get one back for Caloocan.
A wild finish, however, ensued between Reyes and IM Paulo Bersamina.
Way behind in pieces, Bersamina put up a gallant fight as he tried to beat Reyes in the time attack.
But Bersamina lost both his bishops through two crucial errors, letting Reyes escape.
Despite time running out on Reyes, Bersamina, who only had 0.8 second left in his clock, just got the draw with his king the remaining piece left, leading to the draw which would give Reyes, playing black, the decisive win according to PCAP Armageddon rules.
The division finals will take place on Wednesday night. (PNA)