Wesley grabs solo lead

GRANDMASTER Wesley So continued to enjoy success against GM Rogelio “Joey” Antonio.

The three-time defending champion seized early control of the National Chess Championships: 4th Battle of the Grandmasters with his second straight win on Sunday, July 17, at the National Press Club.

With So threatening to promote his pawn on the c-file and on the verge of losing his knight, Antonio resigned after 32 moves of Queen’s Pawn Opening.

The victory gave So 2.0 points after the second round of the event supported by Pilipinas Shell, Manila Pavilion Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, NPC, Remate and Hataw.

“It’s too early to celebrate, but it always feels good when you’re winning against one of the top players in the country,” said So, winner over GM Joseph Sanchez in the first round.

Antonio earlier admitted that playing against So is anything but enjoyable.

“He’s obviously a tough opponent. He always comes in prepared,” said Antonio, who halved the point with Grandmaster Eugene Torre in the opening round.

Torre kept the leader in sight with 1.5 points following his rousing victory over GM Roland Salvador in their London encounter.

The living legend of Philippine sacrificed quality to promote a pawn, forcing Salvador to surrender after 52 moves.

He was joined in second place by International Masters Rolando Nolte, Oliver Barbosa and Richard Bitoon.

Nolte bolstered his chances to nail a GM norm by taking the scalp of GM John Paul Gomez in a slam-bang affair.

Nolte, who missed a winning line in a first round draw against IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia, took the win after 35 moves of Sicilian Defense.

Barbosa also made his case by manhandling GM Rolando “Banjo” Barcenilla in 40 moves of King’s Indian.

Bitoon, winner over IM Yves Ranola in the opener, settled for a draw against GM Darwin Laylo after 30 moves of Caro Kann.

Also halving the point were Ranola and Garcia after 79 moves of Pirc and GMs Mark Paragua and Sanchez in 31 moves of Slav.

In the distaff side, defending champion Woman FIDE Master Rulp Ylem Jose notched her second win in as many rounds at the expense of Jenny Rose Palomo.

Joining her on top were Woman International Master Catherine Perena, WFM Cherry Ann Mejia and Woman National Master Janelle Mae Frayna.

Perena subdued Rowelyn Joy Acedo; Mejia toppled WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego; and Frayna downed Mira Mirano.

Jedara Docena was alone in fifth spot with 1.5 points following a draw with Shania Mae Mendoza.

WIM Beverly Mendoza rebounded from an opening round loss with a win over Jan Jodilyn Fronda.

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