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Friday, April 19, 2024

Food for thought for PCAP

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SO the maiden season of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) is done. All wrapped up after the San Juan Predators gained their redemption and revenge of playoffs tormentor Iloilo Kisela Knights last November 2 with a two-set sweep.

I think this has been an incredible season, warts and all. I love the conference where it’s all Filipino players. I love the Wesley So Cup where there are foreign guest players. And I certainly love the idea of guest foreign teams.

For someone who previously never wrote about chess, it was a revelation, fun, interesting and challenging. I met and made new friends. And tried to help out by teaching them simple methods to help their teams and players.

The league and its exceptional leadership have done great work and have seen what needs fixing for the second season.

Here is my unsolicited advice to what needs doing heading into the second year.

Some team owners need to seriously think about their squads and what they are doing.

You cannot simply form a team and not think about budgets, return of investment, marketing, as well as short and long term goals.

It must be excruciating for the bottom tier teams to be fed to the lions twice a week. The questions are—how do we get better and do we even want to compete?

Teams must have financial flexibility to participate and it should be reviewed. And if they cannot, the players must go to a dispersal draft.

I even think teams should pay a bond for them to compete for at least two seasons. If they have no infractions, team penalties, or even sanctions, then the entire bond should be refunded in full.

The draft.

In my opinion, all players who did not participate as a professional player in PCAP’s maiden year, cannot be free agent signings. They should all go to draft with the teams from the bottom getting the first crack at the top talent.

Now this is the tricky part. Why will players want to go to the bottom teams? They have to show ambition, financial wherewithal and proper organization and esprit de corps. There should be contracts. Hey, this is a professional league, right?

So there’s the dispersal draft and the draft for the newcomers and that should include any of the guest players.

There should be control measures for player movement and to prevent player piracy and those looking for unfair advantages. There should be release forms. Before you transfer you must seek a release. Now, there should also be a measure to prevent teams from unjustly holding back a player.

The guest teams—well, it was nice giving exposure to the junior players—but getting their butts kicked doesn’t look good score-wise and professionally for the league. Pengcheng was an eyesore. Having its ass routinely handed back to them, 21-0, is as bad as those 14-1 hidings by the Loyola Meralco Sparks of inferior competition during the United Football League’s 2011 season.

Maybe if teams have different levels of talent and muscle, should there be Division 1 and Division 2? What if there is promotion and relegation? The lower two teams of north and south groups of Division 1 get relegated to Division 2 while their top four teams get promoted? That number of course, can be pared down to the cellar dweller of the north and south.

That way, there is a sense of urgency even in the lower boards.

As for the competition, I don’t think any grandmaster should be competing on the homegrown board. Even if they are from that particular hometown. They should compete anywhere from the top four boards. Homegrown, uh uh.

I think players when they compete should be dressed properly. They cannot and should not be wearing inappropriate attire. And while we know they are at home, maybe they can fix their backgrounds into something more palatable to the eye.

We have recommended this to the league’s leadership of having a game separated from the main Wednesdays and Saturday games. Sort of like the National Football League’s Monday Night Football that is like the featured Game of the Week. It is the big match of that week and you want everyone watching it.

Having said that, work on a rivalry week—Iloilo versus Negros. Manila versus Quezon City. The Cebu teams should go at it.

The National Hockey League has its Winter Classic and that is reserved for the intense rivalries between hockey clubs. That would be interesting.

Chess is such a faceless sport. Are all our local grandmasters known? Does the common tao know what they look like? The players—titled or not, and of both sexes—should be promoted by their teams. You want people rooting for them especially for the cities and towns whose names they carry. Do those cities and towns even know they exist?

There’s a lot to ruminate on but it can only make PCAP much better. And the second season should be exciting because everyone knows about it now.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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