The Palawan’s Queen’s Gambit team got a fine Valentine’s Day gift: a second win in the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines All Filipino inter-division play. This time, it was Isabela, a team with only one national master, but was in top six in the Northern Division.

Shania Mae Mendoza, Catherine Secopito, Marie Antoinette San Diego and finally, Carmelita Abanes won the crucial rapid matches vs Isabela. Palawan’s final tally was 11.5-9.5 versus Isabela. Abanes, whom coach Susan Grace Neri uses in rapids, won again in Palawan’s valiant try vs Caloocan, one of the leaders in the Northern Division. Though Caloocan won 14-7, Palawan scored on San Diego’s sweep of the blitz and rapid games, Mikee Suede’s upset of veteran Barlo Nadera and Abanes’ victory.

Palawan’s ladies certainly deserve a higher post. The team is playing like a contender despite its lowly 2-15 ranking which is why  they remain dangerous.

Abanes-Francis Cabe (Isabela), Center Counter, Rapid: 1 e4  d5 (This opening is not played much but it remains popular in the Philippines as veterans use it to force White to solve problems).  2. exd5 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxd5 4.d4 g6 5.h3 Bg7 6.c3 O-O 7.Be2 Nc6 8.O-O Bf5 9.a3 e5 10.c4N b6 11.d5N d4 12. Nxd4 exd4 13.Nd2 c5 (Black has completely equalized)

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14.Nf3 Re8 15.Bd3 Qd7 16.Bf4 Nc8 17.b4 b6 18.Qc2 Bxd3 19.Qxd3 Nd6 20.Rfe1 f6 (An ugly move, but White threatens to play Ne5)  21.Rxe8+ Rxe8 22.Re1 Rxe1+ 23.Nxe1 Nf7 24.Nf3 Ne5 25.Bxe5 fxe5 26.Qe4 Qf5 27.Nd2 Kf7 (It is common sense to bring the King close to the d pawn, anticipating a Queen swap but better was 27…Bh6 forcing White to declare his intentions: an early Queen swap and moving the Knight to Nb3 or g4 which is not in the style of Abanes) 28.f3 Bh6 29.Nb3 d3 (Which if the d pawns will prove dangerous? Black’s or White? Preferable is… Be3 ch) 30.Kf1 Qg5 (Better is to swap Queens. White gets a chance to expand her edge)31.d6 (The computer prefers 31. Qxd3 and it is tempting but it is a line tough to evaluate in rapid even if it is a pawn plus.) Qd8 (Black’s last chance was 32.. Qe3 keeping pressure on White’s position. White gets a big plus as her Queen and knight enter the fray) 32.Qxd3 Bf8 33.bxc5 bxc5 34.Qd5+ Kf6 35.Nxc5 Bxd6 36.Qe6+ Kg7 37.Nb7 Qb6 38.Nxd6 Qd4 39.Qf7+ Kh6 40.Qf8+ Kh5 41.g4+ Kh4 42.Qf6+ Kg3 43.Ne4+ Kxh3 44.Nf2+ Kg3 45.Ne4+ Kh3 46.Qg5 Qd1+ 47.Kf2 Qc2+ 48.Qd2 Qxc4 49.Ng5+ Kh4 50. Ne4 Black resigns.

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