So, Laylo stay alive in Campo Cup crown

WORLD Chess Olympiad-bound GMs Wesley So and Darwin Laylo pulled off  inspiring victories  over their respective rivals late Tuesday night to stay within striking distance in the sixth round of the  first former FIDE president Florencio Campomanes Memorial Cup chess championships at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

So shrugged off a heartbreaking setback to top seed GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam in the fifth round early in the day to subdue compatriot Oliver Barbosa and bounce back into contention with  4.5 points  on four wins, one draw and one loss in this prestigious, nine-round tournament which attracted 72 players from 14 countries.

The 16-year-old Filipino champion, who is  set to  lead the country to the coming World Chess Olympiad in  Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia later this month,  played almost flawlessly with the white pieces to clinch the win in less than four hours of play.

And Laylo, ever so eager to capture his first major international title at home,  pulled the rug from under fifth seed GM Chanda Sandipan of India to stay in  the hunt for the US$10,000 top prize  out of the  guaranteed  purse of US$100,000 put up by FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.

“With still three rounds left, it’s still anybody’s race,”  said  So, who is fresh from respectable showings in the  Biel Young GMs tournament in Biel, Switzerland and the Rising Stars vs Experience tournament in Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands in the last two months.

The twin victories enabled So and Laylo to vault into an eight-way tie for second to  10th places with 4,5 points, only half a point behind surprise leader  No. 11 seed GM Zhao Jun of China with still three full rounds left.

Zhao,  one of seven Chinese players in the field,  continued his remarkable run when he  upstaged  compatriot GM Li Chao  to take a one-point lead  with 5.5 points on  five wins and one draw.

The 11th-seeded Zhao and the second-seeded So  are set to  collide  in a crucial seventh-round encounter late Wednesday.

GM  Zhou Jianchao of China subdued IM Richard Bitoon and GM Zhang Zhong of Singapore outwitted GM John Paul Gomez  in other keenly-followed  sixth-round matches  to join  GM Ling Diren of China, GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia,  So,  GM Ehsan Ghaemmaghami of Iran, Le, GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev of Kazakhstan, Laylo and Zhang with 4.5 points.

Ding  drew with Le, Ghaemmaghami halved point with Kazhgaleyev and GM Ni Hua of China split the point with Gagunashvili

Seven players, led by newly-crowned Pichay Cup champion GM Anton Filippov of Uzbekistan and Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre, trailed closely behind with four points.

Filippov  crushed IM Sadikin Irwanto of Indonesia while Torre overwhelmed FM Randy Segarra to join  the group of Ni, Li and three others.

Also with four points are GM Jayson Gonzales, who outclassed  Reggie Olay;  NM Emmanuel Senador, who toppled GM Tamaz Gelashvili of Georgia; and GM  Dashzegve Sharavdorj of Mongolia, who bested David Elorta. Elech Dawa

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