Suelo gains share of lead in Singapore

SINGAPORE – Roberto Suelo, Jr. felt right at home in the Singapore International Chess Festival for a good reason.

With his wife and two-year-old son watching from the sideline, Suelo made short work of local bet Winshand Cuhendi Sean in the fifth round Wednesday night (December 28) and joined a crowded leader board in the 8th Singapore Open at the Jurong East Sports Complex.

Suelo, a professional chess coach in Singapore the past two years, forced Sean to resign after just 18 moves of Queen’s Pawn Opening to notch his second straight win and fourth in five games. His latest string of victories came in the heels of his third round defeat against Grandmaster Eldar Gasanov of Ukraine.

“Ayos lang kahit napupuyat ako kay baby. Mas inspired siyempre ako maglaro dahil andito ang family ko,” said Suelo, a former national junior champion.

Gasanov settled for back-to-back draws against FM Andrean Susilodinata of Indonesia and Benjamin Foo of Singapore to relinquish the outright lead. Also with 4.0 points were Susilodinata, Foo and Christer Jon Aplin of Singapore, who beat Filipino Arlan Cabe in the fifth.

The proud Caviteño was the least surprise of his sudden surge.

“Even after losing to Gasanov kumpiyansa pa rin ako na makakahabol ako to contend for the title,” said Suelo, noting that he’s eyeing his third title in Singapore this year following his triumphs in the Hari Raya FIDE-rated chess tournament and Toa Payoh Open.

His victory somehow eased the pain of the sorry loss suffered by GM Richard Bitoon in the 2nd ASEAN Men Campomanes Cup.

Bitoon had a chance to grab the outright lead in the centerpiece event of the annual chess festival, but ran into time trouble against International Master Nguyen Van Huy. He lost the game and his share of the lead as GM Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia split the point against IM Hafizulhelmi Mas.

Megaranto’s 4/5 effort topped Bitoon’s 3.5/5 midway in the round-robin tournament. They are set to meet in the ninth and final round.

The country’s young chess stars continued to hold sway in the 2nd Singapore International Youth Championships.

Vince Angelo Medina remained on top of the Open Under-17 with 4.5 points after a draw against Jung Young Hoon of South Korea; Michelle Yaon extended her winning run to four after taking a bye in the fourth round to seize control in the Girls U-17. She also got an assist from compatriot Nikki Erica Yngayo, who dealt the first loss of pre-tournament favorite Woman FIDE Master Danielle Ho; Paulo Bersamina moved a full point ahead of the field in the Open U-14 after notching his fifth straight win, this time at the expense of Tupfah Khumnokeaw of Thailand; WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego was slowed down by consecutive draws, but remained on top along with two others in the Girls U-14; and Dennis Gutierrez III kept a perfect record and his share of the lead in the Open U-8.

The Open U-11, Girls U-11 and Girls U-8 were the only divisions without a Filipino on top.

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