Bitoon strikes in 4th Battle of GMs


Individual standings after Round 5:

4.5 points – GM Wesley So
3.5 points – GM Darwin Laylo, IM Richard Bitoon
3.0 points – GM Eugene Torre, IM Rolando Nolte, IM Oliver Barbosa
2.5 points – GM Rogelio Antonio Jr., GM Mark Paragua, GM John Paul Gomez
2.0 points – GM Joseph Sanchez, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia
1.5 points – GM Rogelio Barcenilla
1 point – GM Roland Salvador
0.5 point – IM Yves Ranola


Individual standings after Round 4:

3.5 points – WIM Catherine Perena, WFM Cherry Ann Mejia, WNM Janelle Mae Frayna
3.0 points – WFM Rulp Ylem Jose
2.0 points – WIM Beverly Mendoza, WNM Jedara Docena, WNM Jan Jodilyn Fronda
1.5 points – Mira Mirano
1.0 point – Shania Mae Mendoza, Rowelyn Joy Acedo
0.5 point—WFM Marie Antoinnette San Diego, WNM Jenny Rose Palomo

INTERNATIONAL Master Richard Bitoon made his move Monday night in his bid to collect a GM norm in the National Chess Championship: 4th Battle of the Grandmasters at the historic National Press Club.

The pride of Medellin, Cebu manhandled Grandmaster Roland Salvador in 44 moves of Sicilian Skirmish to gain a share of second place in the event organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines headed by president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr.

More importantly, he pushed his total to 3.5 points after five rounds. He needs just five more points in the last eight games to get his second GM norm.

GM Darwin Laylo held on for a share of second by salvaging a draw against GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio after 77 moves of Caro Kann Defense.

“Mahaba pa ang laban pero malaking bagay sa kumpiyansa ko ‘yung manalo sa early rounds,” said Bitoon, who overwhelmed IM Yves Ranola in the first round and drew his next three matches.

IM Rolando Nolte also boosted his chances to get a second GM norm by ending Grandmaster Wesley So’s perfect start in the round robin event supported by Pilipinas Shell, Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, NPC, Remate and Hataw (JSY Publication).

So countered Nolte’s King’s Pawn Opening with Caro Kann Defense, leading to a heated battle for center pawn. They eventually settled for a draw in their queen and pawn endgame after 49 moves.

The 17-year-old remained firmly on top with 4.5 points while Nolte shared fourth to sixth places with GM Eugene Torre and IM Oliver Barbosa.

Torre handed Ateneo junior standout IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia his first loss after 62 moves of English Opening while Barbosa, who is also eyeing his second GM norm, halved the point with GM John Paul Gomez after 30 moves of Slav Defense.

GM Mark Paragua notched his first win in the tournament at the expense of GM Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla, Jr. after 52 moves of Caro Kann Defense to gain a piece of seventh to ninth places with Antonio and Gomez.

GM Joseph Sanchez also got going with a 33-move victory over Ranola in their Modern Defense duel.

In the distaff side, Woman International Master Catherine Perena and reigning national junior GU-20 champion Woman National Master Janelle Mae Frayna beat their respective rivals to gain a share of the lead after four rounds.

Perena downed Jenny Rose Palomo while Frayna toppled Shania Mae Mendoza to push their total to 3.5 points, the same output of erstwhile solo leader Woman FIDE Master Cherry Ann Mejia.

Mejia’s winning run came to a halt against WIM Beverly Mendoza.

In other matches, defending champion WFM Rulp Ylem Jose drew with Jedara Docena; Mira Mirano scalped Jan Jodilyn Fronda; and Rowelyn Joy Acedo topped WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego.

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