TWO-TIME Asian Junior Champion Grandmaster Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. and Fide Master Austin Jacob Literatus towed the Laguna Heroes to the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) All-Filipino Conference title on Black Saturday.

The two played heroes in Laguna’s conquest of the Camarines Soaring Eagles to become the inaugural champion in the country’s first-ever professional chess league.

Mr. Barcenilla, playing white, defeated Christian Mark Daluz after 55 moves of English Opening in the grand finals while Mr. Literatus, playing black, checkmated Ellan Asuela after 43 moves of Modern Defense.

Grandmaster Mark Paragua drew first blood in the Armageddon for Camarines after forcing fellow grandmaster John Paul Gomez to resign after 25 moves in the King’s Indian Skirmish.

“It was a total team effort,” said Mr. Barcenilla, winner of the last two Olympiad qualifiers, of their title conquest.

Laguna head coach Arena Grandmaster Dr. Alfredo Paez praised his players for holding their own despite the tough challenge posted by Camarines.

“Our championship match against the Camarines Soaring Eagles was the toughest and most intense among the matches that we had… It was anybody’s match. We were just lucky in the last and deciding game, Mr. Paez said.

The PCAP was established in collaboration with the National Chess Federation of the Philippines with the end view of bringing further to the fore the sport of chess, which has experienced a resurgence during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. — Marlon Bernardino