GMs Kazhgaleyev and Li leading at the 4th Pichay Cup

13-20 September 2008 in Manila, Philippines

By Ed Andaya

Standings after four rounds:

3.5 points – M. Kazhgaleyev (Kazakhstan), S. Li (China)

3.0 – R. Bitoon, S. Iuldachev (Uzbekistan), Z. Zhong (Singapore), M. Mchedlishvili (Georgia), M. Paragua (Philippines), Y. Wen (China), J. Gonzales (Philippines), E. Ghaemmaghami (Iran), M. Dzhumaev (Uzbekistan), K. Shanava (Georgia)

2.5 – J. Gomez (Philippines), R. Bancod (Philippines), N.V. Huy (Vietnam), L. Wang (China), Y. Wen (China), W. So (Philippines), H. Pascua (Philippines), K. Yap (Philippines), N. de la Cruz (Philippines), N.N. Truong Son (Vietnam), S. Megaranto (Indonesia), W. Zhou (China), D. Laylo (Philippines), A. Wohl (Australia), Z. Ziyang (China), D.T. Hai (Vietnam), N.A. Dung (VItenam)

WIN some, lose some for the Filipino chess players

IM Richard Bitoon toppled GM Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia in the third round but lost to top seed GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev of Kazakhstan in the fourth round to remain as the brightest Filipino entry in the fourth Prospero Pichay Cup international chess championship at the Duty Free Fiesta Mall in Paranaque City.

Bitoon, the 32-year old graduate of Southwestern University, has three wins and one loss so far in the tough, nine-round tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and sponsored by Duty Free, Department of Tourism, Pilipinas Shell, Globe and PAGCOR. Two other Filipino campaigners – GMs Jayson Gonzales and Mark Paragua – matched Bitoon’s total output of three points in this prestigious week-long tournament which attracted 18 GMs, 12 IMs and two FMs.

Richard Bitoon

IM Richard Bitoon

Gonzales, the second highest-rated Filipino player with an ELO of 2524 based on the recent FIDE quarterly list, drew with IM Ronald Bancod in the third round and Wan Yunguo of China in the fourth round, while Paragua crushed Nguyen Van Huy of Vietnam and halved the point with second seed GM Zhang Zhong of Singapore.

Bitoon, Gonzales and Paragua are tied with GM Saidali Iuldachev of Uzbekistan, GM Zhang, GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili of Georgia, GM Wen Yang of China, GM Ehsan Ghaemmaghami of Iran, GM Marat Dzhumaev of Uzbekistan and GM Konstantin Shanava of Georgia.

The group remain only half a point behind Kazhgaleyev and GM Li Shilong of China. Kazhgaleyev, the highest-rated player here with an ELO of 2641, drew with Iuldachev in the third round before beating Bitoon. Li, seeded only 15th with an ELO of 2503, drew with Zhang and then pulled the rug from under highly-rated GM Wesley So.

The 14-year-old So, who earned his GM title in the same Pichay Cup tournament last year, dropped into a big group of players with 2.5 points. The high school student of St. Francis College-Cavite, who will play top board for the five-man RP team in the coming World Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany, has two wins, one draw and one loss. Tied with So with 2.5 points are Bancod, GM-candidate Jon Paul Gomez, Haridas Pascua, Kim Steven Yap, Noel de la Cruz and Darwin Laylo.

Bancod, who created a stir by posting back-to-back upset victories in the first two rounds, was held to a draw by Gonzales in the third round and finally lost to Gahemmaghami the following round. Gomez, who narrowly missed a GM norm in the recent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Cup, split the point with GMs Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son of Vietnam and Zhou Weiqi of China in the third and fourth rounds.

Ronald Bancod

IM Ronald Bancod

Pascua, a member of the Philippine team to the World Under-16 Olympiad in Mersin, Turkey, beat Deniel Causo and drew with Nguyen Van Huy of Vietnam. Yap, who earned an IM norm during the Asian Individual Championship in Mandaue City last year, drew with IM Ronald Dableo and won over Reggie Olay, while De la Cruz upset IM Weiming Goh of Singapore before drawing with GM Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam. And Laylo, the fifth member of the Dresden-bound RP team, bested IM Amir Mallahi of Iran and drew with Wan Li of China.

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