Georgian GM Levan Pantsulaia clung to the lead Tuesday night even as the Filipino challenge sputtered in the Philippine International Chess Championship at Celebrity Sports Complex in Quezon City.
Pantsulaia drew with countryman GM Merab Gagushnavili in the sixth round to raise his total to 5.0 points, keeping his distance from his fellow foreign invaders in the Open division of the $30,000 tournament.
Trailing Pantsulaia with 4.5 points each are Gagushnavili, Russian GMs Mikhail Mozharov and Anton Demchenko and Armenian GM Avetik Grigoryan.
Mozharov and Demchenko also opted to draw their match, allowing Grigoryan to gain ground following a victory over Filipino GM John Paul Gomez.
Despite his first loss, however, Gomez still led the local bets with 4.0 points in the tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines and sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission and Puregold.
Tied with Gomez are top-seeded Russian GM Ivan Popov, Indian International Master Narayanan Sunilduth Lyna and compatriots GMs Oliver Barbosa, Rogelio Antonio Jr. and Richard Bitoon.
Popov downed GM Darwin Laylo while Lyna tamed IM Kim Steven Yap.
Fresh off a long United States campaign, Barbosa subdued Fide Master Sander Severino, Antonio thwarted FM Randy Segarra, while Bitoon trounced US-based GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, who bowed out of contention at 3.0 points.
It was Bitoon's third straight after a slow start that saw him tally only 1.0 point in the first three rounds of the tournament supported by Asia United Bank, Burlington, Microtel and Harold's Hotel.
Asia's first GM Eugene Torre bested IM Ronald Bancod to improve to 3.5 points in the company of Laylo and IM Haridas Pascua, who repulsed Narquinden Reyes.
The seventh round was being played last night with Pantsulaia tangling with Grigoryan, Mozharov battling Gaunashvili and Gomez tackling Demchenko.
Tromso Olympian WIM Janelle Mae Frayna beat Paulo James Florendo to score 2.5 points, the highest among four female entries. Reigning Asian girls' titlist Mikee Charlene Suede was at 2.0 points after bowing to Roel Abelgas, and so was WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, who defeated FM Jony Habla. WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego broke into the win column at the expense of Roger Sarip.