So nears title in Battle of the GMs
Individual standings after round 12:
8.5 – GM Wesley So
7.5 – IM Oliver Barbosa, GM Eugene Torre
7.0 – GM Rogelio Antonio Jr., GM Darwin Laylo, GM Joseph Sanchez, IM Richard Bitoon
6.5 – IM Rolando Nolte
5.5 – GM Mark Paragua5.0 – GM John Paul Gomez
4.5 –GM Rolando Barcenilla, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia
3.5 – GM Roland Salvador
3.0 – IM Yves Ranola
GRANDMASTER Wesley So virtually wrapped up the title in the National Chess Championships: 4th Battle of the Grandmasters Friday night, July 22, at the National Press Club.
The three-time defending champion halved the point with former trainer International Master Richard Bitoon after 65 moves of Sicilian Defense to raise his total to 8.5 points and maintain a full point cushion heading into the 13th and final round of the tournament supported by Pilipinas Shell, Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, NPC, Remate and Hataw (JSY Publication).
“I went for the win to clinch the title pero ‘di na kayang ipilit,” said So.
So needs only to draw his match against GM Darwin Laylo in the final round slated Saturday afternoon, July 23, to emerge as solo champion for the fourth straight time in the Battle of the Grandmasters, a brainchild of National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) chairman/president Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr.
GM Eugene Torre and IM Oliver Barbosa, So’s closest pursuers, failed to gain ground after settling for draws in the penultimate round.
Torre split the point with Laylo after 30 moves of King’s Indian Defense while Barbosa agreed to a truce with GM Joseph Sanchez.
The 59-year-old Torre will meet Sanchez while Barbosa will face GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. in the final round.
After blowing his chances to get a GM norm with consecutive defeats, Nolte rebounded with back-to-back victories. He beat GM Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. in the 12th round to push his total to 6.5 points.
Also making a late push was IM Yves Ranola, who scored his second straight win following a masterful 30-move conquest of GM Mark Paragua in their Reti Opening duel.
In other matches, Antonio drew with GM John Paul Gomez after 30 moves of French while GM Roland Salvador halved the point with Ateneo junior varsity standout IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia.