By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Iloilo Kisela Knights made one of their toughest decisions heading into the first conference of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) this 2023 season.
After making the PCAP grand finals four-straight times since declaring its participation in the professional chess league, the Iloilo-based team decided to let go of GM Joey Antonio, WFM Cherry Ann Mejia, and Karl Viktor Ochoa.
The trio led the Kisela Knights to several gut-wrenching playoff wins including a championship title last 2022.
The pioneer veterans will be replaced by team owner Leo Sotaridona, head coach Hubert Canto, Gil Libutaque, Jovelyn Sepanton, and Cherry Bendicio.
Mainstays who decided to run it back with the Kisela Knights are NM Rolly Parondo Jr., NM Fritz Bryan Porras, NM John Michael Silvederio, Horizon Villanueva, Mark Jossel Mariano, NM Cesar Mariano, and Fiona Guirhem.
In an exclusive interview with the Kisela Knights, they said that it’s time to shift their focus more to the rising Ilonggo chess stars and to develop more future chess masters from the grassroots level.
“Try gid namon best namon na with this lineup, makasarang kami gihapon sa top-seeded teams sa upcoming PCAP tournament,” said coach Canto to the Daily Guardian.
Players to watch out for in the newly-formed Iloilo lineup are Sepanton and Bendicio, two rising Ilongga chess stars who already marked their name at the regional level.
Sepanton, a widely-renowned player at the regional level, is from Lemery while Bendicio is a native of Balasan who is a three-time national SCUAA player.