MANILA, Philippines – Reigning Guangzhou Asian Games silver medalist and Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Darwin Laylo made the country proud anew by finishing 2nd overall in the Aeroflot Open Chess championship at the Hotel Gamma-Delte in Moscow, Russia on Wednesday.
Marikina City native Laylo defeated GM Alexei Gavrilov of Russia using the advantageous white pieces in the 9th and final round to finish undefeated with 7.5 points on 5 wins and 4 draws.
This is the same output of top placer GM Tigran Kotanjian of Armenia and 3rd placer GM Nikolai Kabanov of Russia who drew their top-board encounters in the prestigious 106-player B group tournament.
“I would like to dedicate my victory to my countrymen. It’s an honor to represent our country,” said Laylo, who settled for 2nd place after tie-break points were applied.
National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) President Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr. hailed the triumph of Laylo.
"This proves once again that Filipinos can be at par with the world's best woodpusher athletes. With ample training and preparation, we can even become world champions," said Pichay, also the LWUA head.
"I think plus-15 ELO rating points si Darwin dito sa Aeroflot Open chess," added Pichay. Laylo has an ELO rating of 2516.
Laylo's team mates, International Master (IM) Oliver Barbosa (5 points) and GM John Paul Gomez (5 points), praised Laylo for his feat.
"Congratulations to GM Darwin Laylo for his outstanding performance... We hope for the continuous success of Philippine Chess," they said.
Barbosa and Gomez complained to this writer about the freezing weather in Moscow.
"Malamig masyado, 16.3 degrees [Celsius]," they said in a long distance telephone interview.
Kotanjian, Laylo and Kabanov will receive the cash prizes using the Hort system.
The total purse of the Top 3 finishers is 19,500 euros. The first part will be split equally, giving each player 2,167 euros. The second part will be split according to the ranking after tiebreak.
Other Filipino pawnpushers who saw in Aeroflot are GM Wesley So (Group A with 2.5 points ), IM Richard Bitoon (Group B with 5.5 points), IM Oliver Dimakiling (Group B with 4.5 points), and Paulo Bersamina (Group C with 5.5 points).
The Philippine Chess Team is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Sunday after their participation on Friday’s World Blitz chess championships in the same venue. – By Marlon Bernardino