Gomez shows way in Chess Olympiad qualifier

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THREE-time national junior champion IM John Paul Gomez pulled off back-to-back victories over fellow IM Barlo Nadera and NM Jerry Nodado to vault into the solo lead after three rounds in the grand finals of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) qualifying tournament at the Kaban ng Hiyas Bldg., Mandaluyong City Hall.

Gomez, the 22-year-old mechanical engineering student of La Salle University, trounced Nadera in 41 moves of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted in the second round late Wednesday and whipped Nodado in 32 moves of the Sicilian Moscow opening to keep his perfect record of three straight victories.

The multi-titled campaigner from Binan, Laguna debuted with a rousing upset win over GM Jayson Gonzales in the first round Tuesday.

Comebacking GM Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor and unheralded NM Leonardo Carlos shared second to third places with 2.5 points out of a possible three.

Villamayor, who celebrated his return to the local chess scene with a pair of first-place finish in the Subic Open and the Palawan Open in the last three months, subdued first-round sensation NM Haridas Pascua in 38 moves of the Gruenfeld in the second round and halved the point with NM Jon Habla in 56 move sof the Classical opening in the third round.

Equally impressive was Carlos, the 29-year-old son of a school teacher in Navotas, who drew with Nodado in 34 moves of the King’s Indian in the second round before humbling IM Richard Bitoon in 32 moves of the Sicilian Alapin in the third round.

Carlos, a member of the national team to the World Under-16 Olympiad in 1994, also won over Nadera in the first round.

Top seed GM Wesley So outduelled fellow GM Mark Paragua in 36 moves of the Queen’s Indian Defense in a keenly-awaited battle between the country’s two highest-rated players to lead three other players with two points on one win and two draws.

So, at 14 the world’s youngest GM, drew his first two matches against IM Chito Garma in the first round and IM Julio Catalino Sadorra in the second round.

Tied with So in fourth to seventh places are GM Darwin Laylo, who drew with Paragua in the second round and Pascua in the third round; IM Ronald Bancod, who halved the point with GM Jayson Gonzale sin the second round and won over Nadera in the third round; and NM Noel de la Cruz, who beat NM Jony Habla in the second round and NM Edmundo Gatus in the third round.

Garma, who finished in a two-way tie for first place with Bancod during the semifinal round, settled for two more draws against IM Rolando Nolte in 41 moves of the Alekhine in the second round and Gonzales in 24 moves of the Scotch in the third round.

Pascua, who pulled the rug from under Paragua in the opening round, failed to sustain the momentum and lost to Villamayor and drew with Laylo in his next two assignments.

In the women’s division, Catherine Perena outclassed Enerose Magno and Shercila Cua downed Daisy Rivera to share the lead with two wins in as many matches.

Chardine Cheradee Camacho settled for a draw with Rida Jane Young to take solo third with 11.5 points.

Jan Jodilyn Fronda, who took the place of Sheerie Joy Lomibao, humbled Kimberly Jane Cunanan to join Cristine Rose Mariano, Cristy Bernales, Eden Tumbos and Rivera in fourth to eighth places.

Mariano demolished Tumbos, while Bernales dumped Sherily Cua in other crucial matches.

The tournament is being organized by the NCFP, headed by president Prospero “Butch’ Pichay and secretary-general Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentono and supported by the Mandaluyong City government, led by Mayor Benhur Abalos.

Pichay said the top finishers in both the men’s and women’s division will earn the right to represent the country in the World Mind Games in Beijing, China on Oct. 3-31; and the World Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany on Nov. 12-25.

Tournament director is Willie Abalos.