Barbosa inches closer to GM norm, top spot

Men’s individual standings after round 7:

5.5 – GM Wesley So

5.0 – IM Oliver Barbosa

4.5 – GM Darwin Laylo

4.0 – GM Eugene Torre, IM Rolando Nolte, IM Richard Bitoon

3.5 – GM Rogelio Antonio Jr., GM Mark Paragua

3.0 – GM John Paul Gomez, GM Rogelio Barcenilla, GM Joseph Sanchez, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia

2.0 – GM Roland Salvador

1.0 – IM Yves Ranola

Women’s individual standings after round 6:

5.0 – WFM Rulp Ylem Jose

4.5 – WIM Catherine Perena

4.0 – WIM Beverly Mendoza, WFM Cherry Ann Mejia, WNM Janelle Mae Frayna, WNM Jan Jodilyn Fronda

3.5 – WNM Jedara Docena

2.5 – WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego

1.5 – Mira Mirano, Rowelyn Joy Acedo

1.0 – Shania Mae Mendoza

0.5 – WNM Jenny Rose Palomo

IN-FORM International Master Oliver Barbosa had more than just a GM norm in sight in the National Chess Championships: 4th Battle of the Grandmasters at the National Press Club.

Barbosa outplayed Grandmaster Eugene Torre in 32 moves of Bogo Indian Defense in the seventh round on Tuesday night to raise his total to 5.0 points.

Torre, who won his previous two, was stuck at 4.0 points in the company of IMs Richard Bitoon and Rolando Nolte.

Bitoon and Nolte agreed to a truce after 32 moves of Philidor’s Defense. Both players are seeking their second GM norm.

It’s something Barbosa could realize with a pair of draws in the next two rounds.

According to International Arbiter Gene Poliarco, Barbosa can get a GM norm with 6/9 performance given the strength of his first nine opponents in the 13-round tournament supported by Pilipinas Shell, Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, NPC, Remate and Hataw (JSY Publication).

But it’s not on top of Barbosa’s priorities now.

“The goal is to win the championship every time na sumali ako sa competition,” said Barbosa. “The rewards like the norms will come along the way as long as you’re winning.”

He’s been wining lately. The pride of Taytay, Rizal recently topped the AFPI Rapid Championship and the 2011 Campomanes Yangon International Open Chess Championship in Myanmar.

Barbosa collected his first GM norm during the 10th Asian Continental Individual Chess Championships in Mashhad, Iran last May.

Standing in his way is eighth round opponent Grandmaster Wesley So, who kept the solo lead despite a third straight draw. The country’s top player split the point with GM John Paul Gomez in 37 moves of Sicilian Defense to improve his total to 5.5 points.

“It will be a tight finish. Oliver (Barbosa) is in peak form right now,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) chairman/president Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr. “Even Wesley will have a hard time holding him off.”

GM Darwin Laylo remained in striking distance with 4.5 points after a 32-move draw against Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla, Jr. in their Caro Kann Defense duel.

Another full point back at 3.5 were GMs Mark Paragua and Rogelio Antonio, Jr. Paragua halved the point with IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia after 40 moves of Neo Gruenfeld Defense while Antonio settled for a draw against IM Yves Ranola after 30 moves of Alekhine Defense.

GM Joseph Sanchez joined Gomez, Barcenilla and Garcia in ninth to 12 places after halving the point with GM Roland Salvador in 31 moves of Slav Defense.

In the women’s division, defending champion Woman FIDE Master Rulp Ylem Jose edged reigning national junior GU-20 champion Woman National Master Janelle Mae Frayna after 36 moves of Alekhine defense to grab the solo lead after six rounds with 5.0 points.

Erstwhile solo leader Woman International Master Catherine Perena fell to second spot at 4.5 points after bowing to WNM Jedara Docena after 54 moves of Center Counter Defense.

WIM Beverly Mendoza, WNM Jan Jodilyn Fronda and WFM Cherry Ann Mejia joined Frayna in a share of third to sixth places with 4.0 points.

Mendoza defeated Mira Mirano after 33 moves of King’s Indian Attack; Fronda toppled Shania Mae Mendoza after 52 moves of Sicilian Defense; and Mejia drew with Rowelyn Acedo after 45 moves of Sicilian Defense.

WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego’s win over WNM Jenny Rose Palomo after 45 moves of Slav defense capped the day’s round.

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