Oro chess master powers Olongapo to hurdle PCAP's qualifying tourney
Cagayan de Oro pride, National Master Levi Mercado powered Olongapo Rainbow Team to the next stage of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) season-ending 3rd Conference.
This, after the Olongapo chessers--with NM Mercado manning the top-board--crushed Cavite, 15.5-5.5 in their last game assignnent on Saturday night to barely qualify, notching the last eight slot in the Northern division's own elimination round.
Olongapo and its penultimate round conqueror Cagayan province were actually tied at 2-7 win-loss slate behind San Juan (8-1), Laguna (8-1), Pasig (7-2), Manila (7-2), Isabela (4-5), Caloocan (3-6) and Rizal (3-6), but the former got lucky in the tiebreaker to also advance for the first time.
"We're actually discouraged after losing to Cagayan earlier (10-11) maskin kulang wala ilang senior player sa board 4. But we chose to give it another try and focus in our last round fight," said Mercado, who was undefeated against Cagayan in both the blitz and rapid duels and yielded just a draw opposite Cavite's team skipper NM Almario Marlon Bernardino Jr.
The now 50-something Mercado from barangay Patag gained chess prominence when he won the board one gold at the expense of GM and IM rivals during the 1999 national inter-cities tourney in Cagayan de Oro City.
It was also in that same event held at the Xavier Estate gym that Mercado obtained the master title from the then governing Philippine Chess Federation (PCF) under the late Art Borjal.
With Mercado facing a stiff challenge in the next level, featuring foreign teams from China, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, are his beleaguered teammates Joshua Bautista, Angel Orijuela, Andriano Valenzuela, Gefer Imbuido, NM Kim Kenneth Santos and Glenn Garcia.
The top-8 qualifiers in Southern division are Iloilo (10-0), Negros (8-2), Lapu Lapu (7-3), Surigao (7-3), Palawan (6-4), Toledo (5-5), Camarines (5-5) and Mindoro (3-7).
National Master Levi Mercado is seen here reviewing some of the latest chess variations on his laptop computer. ( Photo by Lynde Salgados)