KUALA  LUMPUR,  September 2, 2004  (STAR) The Philippines swept the last four rounds to clinch the team rapid title and cap its fruitful stint in the First Dato Tan International Open chess tournament here Tuesday night.

The Filipino chessers marked that roll with a trio of 2.5-1.5 wins over fancied rivals Vietnam, Mid-Valley A of China and Gila Chess Club of Uzbekistan in the sixth, seventh and ninth rounds, respectively, boosting their tally to 25.5 points to best 49 other squads and bag the top pot of $3,000.

Knightmare of Singapore and Vietnam were tied for second and third place with 24.5 points while Gila Chess Club and Mid-Valley A of China was fourth with 22 points.

The nationals, composed of Grandmasters Joey Antonio and Nelson Mariano II, Fide Master Oliver Dimakiling and unrated player David Apelo, earlier bagged the team standard crown in the event.

"This was a tough tournament but we are proud and grateful that we will be bringing home honors for our country," team captain Antonio, an Army standout like Mariano and Apelo, said.

Beside the team rapid championship, Antonio also won a silver medal on Board 1 for garnering 7.5 out of a possible 9 points.

"It was truly a team effort on our part. Everybody did his share in winning the rapid championship," Mariano, a University of the East chess team assistant coach, said.

And indeed, based on the results of the last four rounds, the nationals pulled for each other whenever one of their teammates found it rough.

In round 6, it was Mariano and Apelo who carried the RP bets on their shoulders with wins over their Vietnamese rivals.

Bled Olympiad veteran Mariano outplayed Vietnamese IM Liem Quam Liem in 38 moves of Sicilian Chameleon on board 2 while Apelo upended Nuyen Van Chung after 40 moves of a Sicilian Alapin Variation.

Antonio earlier battled top Vietnamese GM Dao Thien Hai to a fight draw in 34 moves of a Nimzo-Indian encounter on Board 1 while Dimakiling lost to FM Nguyen Van Huy in 46 moves of a Sicilian Schielman Variation on Board 3.

On the other hand, Airman Dimakiling and Apelo were the heros in the country’s conquest of powerhouse Mid-Valley A of China in round 7.

Dimakiling, a former La Salle standout and national junior champion, subdued National Master Lee Soi Hock in 29 moves of an Orangutan game and Apelo outplayed Wong Zi Wei in 34 moves of a French defense.

Antonio had drawn GM Ni Hua in a marathon 88 moves of a Caro Kann on top board but Mariano fell to GM Yu Shaoteng in 47 moves of a French Exchange.

In the final round, Mariano rose to the occasion once again by outwitting Uzbek Andrew Ooi in 25 moves of a Sicilian Grand Prix while the rest of his teammates drew their respective matches.

The team is scheduled to arrive on Thursday.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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