MANILA, Philippines – With still three rounds to go in the UAAP Season 82 men's chess competition, Far Eastern University (FEU) is already smelling the championship.
This, after the Tamaraws obliterated De La Salle University, 4-0, to add more points to an already massive lead after 11 rounds of competition, Saturday at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion.
FEU did it even after resting their top two players, Jeth Romy Morado and RK Sevillano.
The decision to rest Morado, the reigning national juniors champion, for the second straight round, as well Sevillano was made in the last minute.
It did not impact FEU, as JM Jacutina, Darry Bernardo, John Jasper Laxamana and Israelito Rilloraza still delivered the much-needed points that hiked their total to 35.5 points, or an almost insurmountable 6.5 points ahead of closest pursuer University of Santo Tomas (UST).
The Tigers managed just a 2.5-1.5 triumph over a gritty Ateneo de Manila University side on victories by Julius Gonzales and Brylle Gever Vinluan on first and third boards, while AJ Almodal split the point with Alexander Santos on fourth board.
The Eagles' lone win came from Tristan Jared Cervero, who brought down Samson Lim III on the second board.
It is starting to look like there is not stopping FEU from claiming their 15th championship that would underscore its dominance of UAAP men's chess.
"I must admit we're getting closer but we still have to keep on working hard and not become too complacent," said FEU coach Jayson Gonzales.
FEU tackles Ateneo, University of the East (UE) and UST in their last games.
In other pairings, UE edged National University (NU), 2.5-1.5, and Adamson University and University of the Philippines (UP) fought to a 2-2 standoff.
In the women's division, FEU is holding on to the lead and fending off De La Salle University, thanks to a 3-1 triumph over NU.
Shania Mae Mendoza, an Olympiad veteran, and Bea Mendoza each provided the clinching victories on the top two boards as Marife dela Torre and Viona Nepascua halved the point with Charmaine Lilan Manga and China Espanola on the lower boards.
After 11 grueling rounds, the Lady Tams have kept a foothold of the top spot with 32.5 points while putting a 2.5-point separation between them and the Lady Archers, who have 30 points.
La Salle went for a shutout win but managed just a 3-1 triumph over Adamson, no thanks to Abigail Tamundong's snappy win over Ella Grace Moulic on second board.
Marie Antoinette San Diego, an Olympiad standout and Woman International Master, delivered a victory on board one along with ASEAN Age Group champion Samantha Glo Revita and Franchell Eds Javier on boards three and four, respectively.
FEU hopes to continue to hold sway and clinch the title with favorable wins in their last three matches against UP, Adamson and UST.
La Salle, meanwhile, battle UE, NU and Ateneo.
In other results, Ateneo dumped UE, 3-1, and UST bamboozled UP, 3.5-.5.
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