By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Top seeds Laguna and Iloilo bested their rivals to advance to their respective division finals of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) All Filipino Conference Saturday.
The Laguna Heroes edged the fourth-seeded Manila Indios Bravos in their Armageddon duel in the Northern Division, while the Iloilo Kisela Knights prevailed over the No. 5 Toledo City Trojans.
Grandmasters Banjo Barcenilla and John Paul Gomez delivered the victories in the decisive Armageddon playoffs for Laguna by pulling off contrasting wins over GM Julio Catalino Sadorra and International Master Cris Ramayrat.
Austin Jacob Literatus drew with fellow FIDE Master Deniel Causo but got the full point since a draw with the black pieces is equivalent to a win in Armageddon play.
Manila gained the early upperhand by seizing the first set of their two-set showdown, 12-9, but Laguna bounced back by claiming the other one, 13-8, that forced the three-game playoff matches.
Then the Heroes took charge from there with a surprising sweep.
The win arranged Laguna a Northern Conference finals meeting with second seed San Juan Predators, who also pulled off a victory in their Armageddon duel over the No. 3 Caloocan Loadmanna Knights spearheaded by GM Oliver Barbosa.
Iloilo, powered by GM Joey Antonio, set up a Southern Division finals date with second seed Camarines Soaring Eagles in the Southern Division.
Led the GM Mark Paragua, Camarines swept No. 3 Negros Kingsmen.