3 IMs eye GM norm in Battle of the GMs

INTERNATIONAL Masters Oliver Barbosa, Richard Bitoon and Rolando Nolte put themselves in position to corral a GM norm each in the National Chess Championships: 4th Battle of the Grandmasters at the National Press Club.

Barbosa was in the best shape among the three, needing only a draw against GM Mark Paragua in the ninth round to collect his second GM norm in a span of two months. He got his first norm last May in the 10th Asian Continental Individual Chess Championships in Mashhad, Iran

He drew with solo leader GM Wesley So in the eighth round Wednesday night.

Bitoon and Nolte need a victory in the ninth to get similar result. Bitoon, winner over IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia in the eighth, is set to face GM John Paul Gomez while Nolte, who split the point with GM Darwin Laylo in the previous round, will go up against GM Joseph Sanchez.

According to International Arbiter Gene Poliarco, Barbosa and Bitoon could get a GM norm with 6/9 performance while Nolte could get the same result with a 5.5/9 effort given the strength of their respective opponents in the first nine rounds.

It will be the first time in the history of national championship that three different players get a chance to nail a GM norm in the same round.

“This is what I envisioned when we start staging Battle of the Grandmasters a few years ago,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) chairman/president Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr.

So remained on top with 6.0 points despite failing to score a win in the last four rounds of the tournament supported by Pilipinas Shell, Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, NPC, Remate at Hataw (JSY Publication).

In the women’s division, defending champion Woman FIDE Master Rulp Ylem Jose solidified her hold of the top spot with a victory over Woman International Master Catherine Perena.

Jose had five wins and two draws in seven rounds for 6.0 points.

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