MANILA, APRIL 29, 2008
(STAR) Grandmaster Wesley So held his ground against GM Eugene Torre but didn’t force the issue, settling for a draw to remain at helm after four rounds of the Battle of GMs chess championship. at the City State Hotel in Mabini Ave. cor Padre Faura, Manila yesterday.

In the highly anticipated duel between the past and present stars of local chess, Torre and So battled it through 38 moves of a slambang Ruy Lopez encounter with the white-playing 14-year-old Dubai Open champion, the current toast of RP chess, failing to essay a fourth straight victory against Asia’s first GM, who held the fort for almost four decades.

“I didn’t force to score a win since I’m playing with a top-caliber GM,” said So, a high school student at St. Francis College in Bacoor, Cavite.

Both So and Torre have a queen and four pawns each when they agreed to halve the point in the tough, 11-round tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP).

Despite the draw, So, who beat Julio Catalino Sadorra and GMs Joey Antonio and Jayson Gonzales in the first three rounds, remained in the lead with 3.5 points.

But three-time national junior champion John Paul Gomez caught up with So as the former trounced NM Oliver Barbosa in 33 moves of the French defense.

Gomez, a 21-year-old campaigner from Biñan, Laguna, also had three wins and one draw.

Torre also moved up to a two-way tie for third places with IM Richard Bitoon with three points on two wins and two draws.

Bitoon whipped Sadorra in 41 moves of the French defense to join Torre in third while FM Fernie Donguines, a silver medalist in the 1994 Moscow Olympiad, outclassed NM Hamed Nouri in 37 moves of the Sicilian to raise his score to 2.5 points for fifth.

Antonio split the point with GM Bong Villamayor to notch his second point in the tournament which stakes P200,000 to the winner.

NM Rolando Nolte upset Gonzales in 39 moves of another French to join Sadorra and Nouri with 1.5 points.

In women’s play, WNM Catherine Perena crushed WNM Jedara Docena in 41 moves of the Queen’s Gambit and WNM Ylen Jose outplayed WNM Cristy Lamiel Bernales in 39 moves of the Queen’s Indian to share the lead with WNM Shercila Cua with 3.5 points.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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