By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Iloilo Kisela Knights ended their 2022 Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) third conference tournament with a semifinal finish last December 3, 2022.
After successive wins during their last six outings, the Kisela Knights lost at the hands of their rival squad Negros Kingsmen, 13.5-7.5, 12.5-8.5 during the semifinal round.
The Kingsmen were quick to impose their will during their first encounter after building an early 5.5-1.5 lead in the first seven playing boards.
It was a rough start for the Ilonggos as Negros came waxing hot with their offense, only dropping a single board heading into the rapid category.
The Kisela Knights bounced back huge at the start of the rapid category after taking the first board courtesy of GM Rogelio Antonio Jr.
After the GM Antonio Jr. win, Iloilo solidified its chances of a better category performance after back-to-back wins from WFM Cherry Ann Mejia and NM Cesar Mariano.
However, the Kingsmen suddenly flipped the switch and ended the rapid category with a momentum-clinching three-consecutive board wins.
Iloilo performed better in the next match and equalized things at 3.5-all in the blitz category after only scoring 1.5 during their first game.
Just when the Kisela Knights thought they can snowball the last seven playing boards, Negros weathered the storm and matched their first game intensity in the rapid category.
Iloilo had a close fightback after taking control of the middle playing boards after wins from the duo of WFM Mejia and NM Mariano.
The Kingsmen had a better closing performance just like what they did during their first encounter and ended the last three playing boards with a 2-1 record.
Despite the loss, the Kisela Knights ended their 2022 campaign as one of the best teams in the Southern division.
Iloilo is yet to break their winning tradition after building a streak of playoff appearances since joining the first-ever conference of the PCAP tourney.