Bersamina escapes Roca as Caloocan survives General Trias to enter PCAP North Semis

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Paulo Bersamina withstood time pressure in the endgame to survive fellow international master Petronio Roca in their Armageddon match, and Caloocan staved off General Trias' upset bid to book a place in the Northern Division Semifinals of the PCAP All-Filipino Conference on Wednesday night.

The deciding Armageddon was forced after the Spartans bounced back from their 6.5-14.5 Set 1 defeat against the Loadmanna Knights by taking Set 2, 12.5-8.5.

Opting for a Reversed Sicilian Defense to counter Roca's English Opening, Bersamina slowly began dealing with time pressure after Roca went for Qe2 for his 21st move, using up 18 seconds before settling for Qf7.

After Roca went for f4 in his next move, Bersamina milked some more time before eventually deciding to force a pawn exchange via en passant at f3.

Roca then pressured Bersamina's queen by going for Ne5, and the latter took some more time before opting to retreat his queen to the e8 square.

Roca's continuous pressure forced Bersamina to place his queen to d8, which according to the computer analysis was not a good move.

Bersamina somehow recovered time-wise as Roca took 30 seconds before offering him a queen exchange at e2.

But Bersamina needed seven seconds before accepting the exchange, giving Roca another leeway to win it via timeout.

The time pressure forced Bersamina to make another not-so-good move through Ke6, but Roca's continuous h-file pawn push turned out to be pivotal as the said push was not the optimal move.

Bersamina's survival got a huge boost after he countered Roca's Kg5 with the brilliant Ke6, and the former just bounced his white square bishop around the g6 and h7 squares to force the draw on repetitive moves.

Based on PCAP's Armageddon rules, the player with the white pieces must win or else, his opponent will win even if they settled for a draw, so Bersamina clinched the match.

The missed chance was crucial for General Trias as untitled homegrown player Jayson Visca stunned FIDE Master Nelson Villanueva in another tiebreaker match.

IM Jan Garcia scored the other Caloocan Armageddon point after beating Renie Malupa.

In the other Armageddon series for the night, Manila beat Rizal also with a 2-1 scoreline.

However, the Armageddon was made to break the 10.5-10.5 deadlock between the Indios Braves and the Towers in Set 2.

Manila beat Rizal in Set 1, 12-9, so the Armageddon completed the former's sweep of the two-legged affair.

The other first round affairs were smooth sailing.

Laguna edged Antipolo, 16-5, 19-2, and San Juan ousted Pasig, 11.5-9.5, 13.5-7.5, in the other North quarterfinal ties.

Over at the South, the top three seeds booked their spots in the next round as Iloilo turned back Cordova, 14-7, 15.5-5.5, Camarines romped Mindoro, 16.5-4.5, 15.5-5.5, and Negros defeated Lapu-Lapu, 14-7, 13.5-7.5.

Meanwhile, fifth seeded Toledo was the lowest ranked squad that entered the conference quarterfinals after ousting fourth seeded Zamboanga, 12.5-8.5, 12-9.

The Indios Braves will face off with the Heroes, while the Loadmanna Knights battle the Predators in the North semis on Saturday night.

The South semis also on Saturday night will have the Kisela Knights against the Trojans and the Soaring Eagles against the Kingsmen.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno