7 Pinoys on top in Singapore chessfest

SINGAPORE – The Filipinos enjoyed another good day in the Singapore International Chess Festival at the Jurong East Sports Complex here.

Seven of them either took sole possession or gained a share of the lead in their respective divisions after the third round late Tuesday.

Grandmaster Richard Bitoon halved the point with GM Sang Cao of Vietnam to remain on top of the 2nd ASEAN Men Campomanes Cup, the centerpiece event of the annual chess festival. GM Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia joined him on top with 2.5 points after downing FIDE Master Daniel Chan of Singapore.

The rising stars of Philippine chess also flexed their muscles in the 2nd Singapore International Youth Championships.

Vince Angelo Medina anchored the onslaught by beating compatriot Marc Christian Nazario for his third straight win. He shared the lead with Shannon Scott Neubronner of Singapore in the Open Under-17.

Michelle Yaon was alone on top, at least for the moment, in the Girls U-17 after defeating Gole Shweta of India and moving a full point clear of idle Woman FIDE Master Danielle Ho of Singapore. They’re playing a round-robin format with only nine participants in their division.

FIDE Master Paulo Bersamina and Jerad Docena locked up the top spot in the Open U-14. Bersamina and Docena toppled erstwhile co-leaders Aloysius Chia and Vairavan Arjun of Singapore respectively to remain perfect after three rounds.

WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego traded a pawn for a positional advantage in the middle game to beat Anastasia Patricks of Indonesia and grab the solo lead in Girls U-14 with perfect 3.0 points.

Daniel John Lemi also remained perfect after his conquest of Aryaman Singhania of India to get a spot in the crowded leader board of Open U-11. The event’s most populated division with 98 participants had nine players toting similar 3.0 points.

Their performance bodes well for the lofty goal of National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) chairman/president Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

“Ipinapakita ng mga bata na hindi sayang ang suporta natin sa kanila pati na rin ng Philippine Sports Commission at Philippine Olympic Committee,” said Pichay, who wants to produce the country’s 20th GM within the next two years.

There were some meltdowns elsewhere.

Me Ann Joy Baclayon and Darlyn Villanueva lost against separate Singaporean rivals to relinquish their share of the lead in the Girls U-8. Baclayon yielded to Vanessa Tan while Villanueva bowed to Magdalene Clarissa Chong.

The Filipinos also dropped a step in the 8th Singapore Open, which officially became wide open following the withdrawal of top seed GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili of Georgia, whose 2636 ELO rating is at least 178 points ahead of the rest.

FM Nouri Hamed and Alex Milagrosa settled for a draw against Benjamin Foo and Rahman Masruri of Indonesia respectively to fall a half point behind co-leaders GM Eldar Gasanov of Ukraine and FM Andrean Susilodinata of Indonesia.

Arlan Cabe joined his compatriots in a share of third spot with 2.5 points after stopping the surprising run of unrated Filipino Jelvis Calvelo, who earlier stunned CH Savetha of India with a rare checkmate.

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