GM Li Shilong with a half point edge at the 4th Pichay Cup

GM Zhong Zhang close behind

By Ed Andaya

Standings after seven rounds:

6.0 points – S. Li (China)

5.5 – Z. Zhang (Singapore)

5.0 – S. Iuldachev (Uzbekistan), M. Mchedlishvili (Georgia), W. So (Philippines), E. Ghaemmaghami (Iran), B. Villamayor, K. Shanava (Georgia), D.T. Hai (Vietnam)

4.5 – M. Paragua (Philippines), Y. Wan (China), M. Dzhumaev (Uzbekistan), N.G. Truong Son (Vietnam), D. Laylo (Philippines), S. Megaranto (Indonesia), R. Nolte (Philippines), N.A. Dung (Vietnam)

4.0 – J. Gomez (Philippines), D. Xiu (China), P. Roca (Philippines), Y. Wen (China), W. Zhou (China), N. de la Cruz (Philippines), H. Pascua (Philippines), J. Gonzales (Philippines), O. Dimakiling (Philippines), R. Tolentino (Philippines), L. Carlos (Philippines)

WORLD Chess Olympiad-bound GM Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor racked up back-to-back wins over compatriot Kim Steven Yap in the sixth round and top seed GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev of Kazakhstan in the seventh round to join GM Wesley So as the only Filipino players still in the title hunt in the fourth Prospero Pichay Cup international chess championship at the Duty Free Fiesta Mall in Paranaque City.

Villamayor, who finished in a five-way tie for first place in the second Philippine Open chess championship held in Subic last May, defeated Yap and Kazhgaleyev in succession to raise his total to five points with still two rounds left in this nine-round tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and sponsored by Duty Free Philippines, Department of Tourism, Pilipinas Shell, Globe Telecoms and PAGCOR.

The 41-year-old Villamayor, who earned his GM title in Istanbul, Turkey in 2000, has five wins against two losses to stay in contention for the US$5,000 top prize of out of the total cash prize of US30,000. The psychology graduate of Far Eastern University has won his last three matches after scoring only two points in the first four rounds.

So, the country’s highest rated player based on the recent FIDE quarterly list, outdueled compatriot Gm Mark Paragua in the sixth round and then drew with third seed GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili of Georgia the following round to match Villamayor’s output with five points.

Villamayor and So are a full point behind No. 16 seed GM Li Shilong of China and half a point behind second seed GM Zhang Zhong of Singapore. Li, one of 13 Chinese players entered in the 68-player field, drew with Mchedlishvili in the sixth round and won over No. 8 GM Marat Dhzumaev of Uzbekistan in the seventh round to grab the solo lead with six points out of a possible seven.

Zhang demolished No.14 GM Saidali Iuldachev of Uzbekistan and drew with No. 4 GM Ehsan Ghaemmaghami of Iran to take solo second place with 5.5 points.

Five foreign players – Iuldachev, Mchedlishvili, Ghaemmaghami, Konstantin Shanava of Georgia and Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam – joined Villaamyor and So in third ot ninth places with five points.

Paragua bounced back from a sixth-round setback to So by humbling compatriot IM Richard Bitoon in the seventh round to lead a big group of players with 4.5 points.

Also in the group were GM Darwin Laylo, who halved the point with GM Zhou Weiqi of China and GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son of Vietnam, and IM Rolando Nolte, who split the point with Xiu Deshun of China in the sixth round and humbled IM Ronald Bancod in the seventh round.

GM-candidate John Paul Gomez, however, failed to sustain his recovery. Gomez trounced IM Petronio Roca in the sixth round but then lost to Iuldachev in the next round to remain with only four points.

Seven other Filipino players are tied with Gomez and three foreign bets with four points. They are local bets GM Jayson Gonzales, IM Oliver Dimakiling Noel de la Cruz, Haridas Pascua, Rustum Tolentino, Leonardo Carlos and Roca and Chinese players Zhou, Wen and Xiu.

Not as fortunate was Newly-crowned ASEAN Grand Prix champion IM Julio Catalino Sadorra, who bowed out of contention with a loss to GM Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia in the seventh round. Sadorra, who drew with IM Ronald Bancod in the sixth round, has 3.5 points.

A total of US$30,000 is at stake in the week-long competition , with the champion getting the lion’s share of US$5,000, the runner-up pocketing US$4,000 and the third placer receiving US$3,000.The fourth up to the 24th placers will also receive consolation cash prizes.

Supervising arbiter is Peter Long, while tournament director is Willie Abalos.

Round 4 report

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