As the UAAP Season 82 Chess Tournament came to a close last Sunday, October 27, at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion, the DLSU Lady Woodpushers failed to defend their crown as they settled for a silver medal finish with 38.5 points, behind the FEU Lady Tamaraws, who garnered 40 points.
On the other hand, the Green Woodpushers improved from their eighth place standing last season, finishing this year’s tournament at sixth place with 24.5 points.
After the tournament, head coach Susan Neri expressed her thoughts on the season, as they came in the tournament with many young players, “The season for me is the season for growth and maturity for all of us, even [for myself] as the coach. Kumbaga yung hard work na binuhos namin, sadyang kulang lang.”
(Our hard work was just not enough.)
On the edge
Heading into the last day of the tournament with the assurance of at least a third place finish and a shot at the crown, the Lady Woodpushers had one thing in mind: to finish strong. Pitted against the ADMU Lady Eagles, the Lady Woodpushers were determined to sweep.
Woman International Master (WIM) Marie Antoinette San Diego nabbed a point for La Salle against Ateneo’s Merlene Membrere on Board 1. Meanwhile, Lady Woodpushers team captain Ella Grace Moulic succumbed to Lady Eagle Alexis Anne Oseña on Board 2. The team from Taft escaped with the victory as Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Samantha Revita overcame Manilyn Cabungcag of Ateneo, while a stalemate ending resulted between DLSU’s Franchell Javier and ADMU’s Laila Nadera. Thus, the Lady Woodpushers emerged victorious, 2.5-1.5, over the Lady Eagles.
A crucial matchup between the Lady Tamaraws and the Golden Tigresses determined the fate of the Lady Woodpushers in their title defense. FEU did not give in as Shania Mae Mendoza recorded the only win for the Morayta-based squad while the rest of her team drew against UST to take the victory as a team, 2.5-1.5.
As a result, the Lady Tamaraws secured their place atop the standings, while the Lady Woodpushers followed at second with 38.5 points—just over a point shy of FEU’s 40.
Team captain Moulic shared what she felt as her team was unable to defend their crown, “I’m a little sad because we fell short. I think we could have done more to win.”
Meanwhile, the Green Woodpushers faced the AdU Soaring Falcons on the last day of the tournament. Determined to improve their standing from the previous season, the Taft-based squad showed their mettle as they convincingly defeated the team from San Marcelino.
Green Woodpushers captain Tristan Ibaoc and rookies Diomel John Escutin and David John Lemi all earned wins, while Francis Xavier Guimalan drew in his match.
After recording 3.5 points over Adamson’s 0.5, the Green Woodpushers secured the sixth spot in the final standings—an improvement from their eighth place finish last season. Their 24.5-point total at the end of the tournament was only two points shy of a podium finish, as bronze medalists UP had 26.5 points.
Ibaoc disclosed that he is proud of what his team has achieved this season, “I think it is expected that we will have a better standing because of the new members. But being able to rise that high is something unexpected…I am just a sophomore, pero nakaabot kami dito.”
(I am just a sophomore, yet our team was able to make it this far.)
At the conclusion of the tournament, La Salle’s WFM Revita bagged a silver medal in Board 4 of the women’s division, recording seven wins in 14 games. Additionally, the graduating WIM San Diego bested Board 1, as she claimed the gold medal with a record of 10 victories in 13 outings.
In the men’s division, Ibaoc was awarded a silver medal in Board 2 with eight wins in 14 matches.
Despite the Lady Woodpushers failing to defend their title and the Green Woodpushers not being able to finish on the podium, coach Neri saw a lot of positives from their experiences this Season 82. “We are very positive and hopeful…we [might] not [have been] enough for this season, but the teams still [have] a lot of potential. We are looking forward for next season. [We] cannot wait to train again, tapos sabak ulit,” she expressed.
([We] cannot wait to train again and get back to competing.)
Moulic shared that the thrills of this season made her final year in the UAAP worthwhile, noting that the future is bright for the Woodpushers, “I am sure that we can be better next season. For me, the season [was] like a rollercoaster, may times na chill lang then may times na sobrang kaba. But overall it was fun [playing] in my last UAAP [tournament].”
(There were times that I felt calm, but there were also periods where I felt very nervous.)
Ibaoc considered this season as a lesson for his budding team, who are looking to bounce back after internalizing the experience. The young captain discussed, “The team is still growing and I am still grateful for this season kasi nalaman namin kung saan kami dapat mag-improve at yung mga weaknesses namin. Mas nalaman din namin kung ano ba talaga yung UAAP, mas lalo na sa mga frosh.”
(We found out where we could improve, what our weaknesses were. We, especially the frosh, realized what it’s really like to compete in the UAAP.)
With reports from Joaquim Arquelada