MANILA, Philippines -- Powerhouse Far Eastern University (FEU) is starting to leave a trail of destruction in the 82nd UAAP men's chess tournament, while its women's team is fending off the challengers in their division.
Spearheaded by reigning national juniors champion Jeth Romy Morado, the Tamaraws devastated the University of the East (UE) Warriors, 3.5-.5, to continue to widen the gap from the rest of the field after four rounds at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion Sunday.
Morado made a clinical display on how to destroy the Sicilian Defense with a quick 25-move victory over Armand Gabriel Narvaja to lead the way for the Tams, who are seeking a league-high 14 championship.
The swift win on Board One set the tone for FEU as Rhenzi Kyle Sevillano and Darry Bernardo followed suit with triumphs on second and fourth boards, respectively.
John Merill Jacutina stole half a point for FEU after he turned a two-pawn disadvantage into a marathon 82-move draw with Michael Suacillo of a Caro-kann duel on third board, thanks to a brilliant tact of transforming the endgame to a drawish, opposite-colored bishop battle.
FEU thus kept its grip of the top spot with 12 points, way ahead of closest pursuer University of Santo Tomas (UST), which absorbed a heartbreaking 1.5-2.5 defeat at the hands of Ateneo de Manila University, with 9.5 points.
At third with 8.5 points was Adamson University, which drew with National University (NU), 2-2, while University of the Philippines (UP), which turned back De La Salle University, 2.5-1.5, was at No. 4 with eight points.
In the women's division, the Lady Tamaraws regained their winning form by turning back Ateneo, 3-1, also on Sunday to hold off defending champion La Salle.
After barely escaping with a 2-2 draw with UST the day before, the Lady Tams summoned their old, dangerous selves with former national women’s champion Shania Mae Mendoza, Bea Mendoza and Viona Nepascua posting victories on first, second and fourth boards, respectively.
Ateneo’s Manilyn Cabungcag slammed Jennina Valdez on third board to stave off a shutout.
FEU thus kept its grip of the lead with 12.5 points but its upper hand was cut to just half a point after La Salle blanked UE, 4-0, on wins by Marie Antoinette San Diego, Ella Grace Moulic, Samantha Glo Revita and Franchell Eds Javier to hike its total to 12 points.
It was the third straight victory for the Lady Woodpushers after they were slowed down by a stunning 1.5-2.5 defeat to their archrivals Ateneo Lady Eagles in the opening round last week.
At joint third were Ateneo and UST, which clobbered NU, 3-1, with 9.5 points apiece.
In the only other game, Adamson edged UP that was wrapped up by Abigail Tamundong's 59-move win over Jallen Herzchelle Agra of a Caro-kann duel on board three as the rest drew their respective games.
High school boys' competition
Meanwhile, unheralded chesser Lee Roi Palma and UE continue to send shockwaves down the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion, as they brought down defending champion FEU, 3-1, to continue to hold sway in the high school boys' competition of Season 82 this weekend.
Palma shone the brightest in UE's stunning triumph, as he brought down on top board a highly-touted FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri when the former punished the latter from his opening misadventures for a 34-move win of a Bishop's Opening.
John Kenneth Gelva delivered the other victory against Christian Marcelo Olaybal in 33 moves of a Scotch Game on board four while Noel Geronimo and Francis Roi Parro split the point with Jarvey Labanda and Lorenzo Aaron Cantela on second and third boards, respectively, to complete what could turn out as the biggest win of the season.
After four grueling rounds, the sensational win kept UE well-entrenched on top with 13.5 points, a full two points ahead of NU, which battled UST to a 2-2 standoff, with 11.5 points.
The Baby Tams slipped to a share of third with Adamson, which zoomed back to contention with a 4-0 destruction of Ateneo, with seven points each.
The high school girls' division took a break Sunday.
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