So, Jose retain title

Final standings:

9.0  – GM Wesley So
8.0 – IM Oliver Barbosa, GM Eugene Torre
7.5 – GM Darwin Laylo, GM Rogelio Antonio Jr., IM Richard Bitoon, GM Joseph Sanchez, IM Rolando Nolte

6.0 – GM Mark Paragua
5.5 – GM John Paul Gomez

5.0 – GM Rogelio Barcenilla, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia
4.5 – GM Roland Salvador
3.0 – IM Yves Ranola

GRANDMASTER Wesley So made a wire-to-wire win in a round robin tournament look so easy.

The 17-year-old clinched the title in the National Chess Championships: 4th Battle of the Grandmasters after halving the point with GM Darwin Laylo in 32 moves of English Opening yesterday at the National Press Club.

So finished with 9.0 points, a full point ahead of his closest rivals in the tournament supported by Pilipinas Shell, Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, NPC, Remate and Hataw (JSY Publication).

It was his fourth straight triumph in as many tries in the Battle of the Grandmasters, a brainchild of National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) chairman/president Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr.

The country’s highest rated player won his first four matches and cruised from there. He earned P150,000 for his effort.

“This is a very tough tournament. It may look easy dahil ako ‘yun nasa taas from the start pero alam naman natin na until the final round hindi sure kung ako ang magiging champion,” said So, who rallied in the homestretch to win the title last year.

With So already out of reach, GM Eugene Torre and International Master Oliver Barbosa quickly split the point against separate opponents.

Torre halved the point with GM Joseph Sanchez after 30 moves of Queen’s Pawn Opening while Barbosa drew with GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. after 30 moves of London System.

Both Torre and Barbosa finished with 8.0 points, but the latter took runner up honors by the win-over-the-other rule.

In other matches, IM Rolando Nolte downed IM Yves Ranola after 33 moves of Sicilian; GM Mark Paragua halved the point with IM Richard Bitoon after 31 moves of Nimzo Indian; GM Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. drew with IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia; and GM John Paul Gomez agreed to a truce with GM Roland Salvador after 31 moves of Slav.

Woman FIDE Master Rulp Ylem Jose retained the title in the women’s division after taking the scalp of Rowelyn Joy Acedo in 36 moves of Queen’s Pawn Game. She finished with 9.0 points to collect the P40,000 top prize.

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