GEORGIAN Grandmaster Levan Pantsulaia beat Filipino GM Julio Catalino Sadorra Sunday night to grab the solo lead in the Philippine International Chess Championship at Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.
Handling white, Pantsulaia prevailed after 57 moves of their Gruenfeld encounter to tally a perfect 3.0 points in the Open division of the nine-round $30,000 tournament.
Pantsulaia, seeded third with an Elo rating of 2583, moved half a point ahead of fellow GMs Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia, Anton Demchenko of Russia, Mikhail Mozharov of Russia and Oliver Barbosa of the Philippines and Fide Master Randy Segarra.
Ranked only 22nd in the 38-player field, Segarra, coach of De La Salle University chess team, stunned Armenian GM Avetik Grigoryan in 58 moves of a Ruy Lopez to move into contention in the tournament sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission and Puregold.
Fresh off a long campaign in the United States, Barbosa downed Sheider Nebato in 27 moves of a Slav.
Gagunashvili and Demchenko drew their match, while Mozharov also split the point with top seed Ivan Popov of Russia in the tournament being supported by Asia United Bank, Burlington, Celebrity Sports Plaza, Microtel and Harold's Hotel.
Popov was at 2.0 points in the company of the US-based Sadorra, Filipino GMs Darwin Laylo, Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio Jr. and John Paul Gomez, Filipino International Msters Kim Steven Yap and Haridas Pascua, Indian IM Narayanan Sunilduth Lyna, Fide Master Sander Severino and Merben Roque, who shocked GM Richard Bitoon.
Gomez and Antonio agreed to a truce, Laylo whipped Roel Abelgas, Torre subdued FM Paulo Bersamina, Yap tamed IM Ronald Bancod, Pascua trounced WIM Mikee Charlene Suede, while Lyna and Severino played to a draw.
Pantsulaia was tackling Demchenko in the fourth round of the tournament being played at press time last night.
Other crucial matches pitted Barbosa against Gagunashvili, Segarra against Mozharov, Popov against Torre, Sadorra against Sunilduth Lyna, Yap against Gomez, Antonio against Roque, and Laylo against Pascua.
WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda drew with Raymond Salcedo to catch up with Suede at 1.0 point.