TAGAYTAY CITY - Filipino teenage chess wonder Wesley So claimed solo leadership in the fifth round of the Asian Zone 3.3 Chess Championship at the Tagaytay International Convention Center on Friday.
So, the country’s highest-ranked grandmaster, defeated International Master (IM) Bayarsaikhan Gundavaa of Mongolia.
"Maganda 'yung coordination ng major pieces ko kaya napilit kong manalo sa laro against Gundavaa," said the 19-year-old Bacoor, Cavite native.
So, who took a break from his studies at Webster University in the US to compete in the event, compiled a total of 4.5 points and is now leading in the standings after 5 rounds of play.
His erstwhile co-leader GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son of Vietnam halved the point with GM Darwin Laylo, enabling So to take the leadership board.
Nguyen, the 2005 Manila Southeast Asian Games five gold medal winner, was actually in the losing position but managed to draw with Laylo to improve to 4.0 points.
"Slight advantage tayo sa middle game kaso mahirap pa din ‘yung laro. Then sa endgame tabla na talaga eh," said Laylo.
Sharing 3rd to 8th places with 3.5 points each are defending champion GM Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia, FM Gombosuren Munkhgal of Mongolia, Laylo, 12-time national open champion GM Rogelio Antonio Jr. and IM Nguyen Doc Hoa of Vietnam.
In the distaff side, Nguyen Thi Thanh An of Vietnam defeated fellow Vietnamese Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Nguyen Pham Le Thao to remain on top with 4.5 points in five outings.
Bernadette Galas of the Philippines crushed Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Ummi Fisabilillah of Indonesia to climbed at 4th to 7th place in the company of 3.0 pointers the likes of Pham, WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram and WIM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung of Vietnam.
Other Pinay bets WFM Rulp Ylem Jose, WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego and WIM Catherine Perena tallied 2.0 points each for 10th to 14th places, while Mary Grace Tambasen is at the bottom with no point. - by Marlon Bernardino