An abrupt end for Palawan’s Queen’s Gambit. A promising start ended in sadness for the Palawan Queen’s Gambit. The all-women crew missed their former Asian Continental champ Padmini Rout, the team’s second-highest scorer, but they had to be beaten twice by Mindoro.
The unthinkable happened in Saturday’s playoff at the Wesley Cup Conference of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines. Mindoro, which ended the confab with a 9-25 record, upset Palawan, 10-24.
Mindoro edged Palawan, 11-10 in the first game and then dominated the second 14-7. It is difficult to pinpoint the cause of the first game setback as the situation fluctuates in rapid and blitz controls. Winning chances appear and reappear like fireflies in the early evening.
A Palawan official said there are moves to form a Palawan-Albay team for future events. Whether the all-female cast will be retained will be known in the next few weeks.
In two conferences of the PCAP, the ladies of the Palawan’s Queen Gambit can be proud of several individual victories against grandmasters, national masters and even those dreaded denizens of online chess.
But to reach the quarterfinals in the third conference, the team better shore up its personnel to rest slumping players. There are not that many strong women players and most of them are playing for other teams.
One thing is clear: Shania Mae Mendoza has shown her strength in the first board, the most difficult job in team chess. She defeated GM Amir Bagheri of Cebu and Lapu Lapu’s Woman Grandmaster Pham Le Thao Nguyen of Vietnam, a nemesis of many Filipinas.
Last year, she was struggling with fast time controls but in the PCAP she has become adept in blitz, where her tactical abilities are displayed. Better time management in slightly advantageous positions will help.
In the first conference, Marie Antoinette San Diego was on third board, where she played mostly women and with success. Now, she is on a lower board where she meets men, and her 37 wins, 20 losses and 11 losses speak for themselves.
One is reminded of how far San Diego advanced before she was 16 but her studies at De La Salle were a priority. Now that she had graduated, San Diego could pursue the woman grandmaster which she deserves. In PCAP. her play is distinguished in pursuing the initiative no matter where it takes.
Beverly Mendoza, who had shone in many Olympiad teams, needs more time to get back into the groove.
Did Palawan Queen’s Gambit show women are no less inferior than men? Yes, for a look at how far did they go this time. A tweaking of personnel should push them into the quarterfinals in the next conference.