RUSSIAN Grandmaster Anton Demchenko downed Filipino GM Rogelio Antonio Jr. yesterday to catch Georgian GM Levan Pantsulaia at the top of the Philippine International Chess Championship at Celebrity Sports Plaza
in Quezon City.
Demchenco improved to 6.0 points, the same total of Pantsulaia, who was held to his second straight draw by Russian GM Mikhail Mozharov in the ten-round $30,000 tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.
The foreign GMs continued to lord it over the 38-player field with Georgian Merab Gagunashvili, Russian Ivan Popov, Mozharov and Armenian Avetik Grigoryan sharing third spot with 5.5 points each.
The top-seeded Popov (Elo 2622) beat GM Richard Bitoon after 51 moves of a Pirc Defense, while Gagunashvili and Avetik drew their match after 30 moves of a Caro Kann Defense.
Handling black, Antonio, who beat International Master Haridas Pascua in the seventh round, surrendered after 55 moves of another Caro Kann and stayed at 5.0 points with five countrymen and Indian International Master Narayanan Sunilduth Lyna, who drew with GM Eugene Torre.
Bunched with Antonio are GMs John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Oliver Barbosa, IM Kim Steven Yap and Roel Abelgas.
Gomez and Barbosa played to a draw after 30 moves of a Ruy Lopez, Yap trounced Noel Dela Cruz while Abelgas tamed Raymond Salcedo.
The ninth round was being played last night with Demchenko pitted against Grigoryan, Pantsulaia against Popov, Yap against Gagunashvili, Antonio against Mozharov, Barbosa against Sunilduth Lyna and Gomez against Abelgas.
The tournament, which dangles $5,000 to the champion, is sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission and Puregold and supported by Asia United Bank, Burlington, Microtel and Harold's Hotel.
Torre, Bitoon and Mongolian Fide Master Sumiya Bilguun, who stunned IM Joel Pimentel, were at 4.5 points.
WIM Janelle Mae Frayna, one of four female bets, and IM Haridas Pascua agreed to a draw and climbed to 4.0 points with United States-based GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, FM Sander Severino, FM Paulo Bersamina and Dela Cruz.