GEORGIAN Grandmaster Levan Pantsulaia drew with Filipino GM John Paul Gomez yesterday to win the Philippine International Chess Championship via tiebreak over three other foreign GMs at Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.
The third-seeded Pantsulaia tallied 7.0 points, the same total of Russian top seed Ivan Popov, countryman Merab Gagunashvili and Armenian Avetik Grigoryan after ten rounds of the tournament sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission and Puregold.
Making last-ditch assaults, Popov downed compatriot GM Anton Demchenko while Gagunashvili subdued Indian International Master Narayanan Sunilduth Lyna. Grigoryan split the point with Russian GM Mikhail Mozharov.
Their efforts fell short, however, as the title went to Pantsulaia. If any consolation, the top four placers shared the first to fourth prizes, each one netting $3,375.
Gomez, a three-time Olympian, emerged the best Filipino performer at fifth place with 6.5 points. Mozharov and Filipino GM Darwin Laylo, who trounced Cebuano IM Kim Steven Yap, posted the same score but landed sixth and seventh when the tiebreak was applied.
The second-seeded Demchenko finished at 6.0 points in the company of veteran GM Rogelio Antonio Jr. and Sunilduth Lyna, who rounded up the top 10 of the tournament supported by Asia United Bank, Burlington, Celebrity Sports Plaza, Microtel and Harold's Hotel.
Antonio drew with United States-based Julio Catalino Sadorra (5.5 points), who was unable to show the same form that made him the country's top board player in this year's Tromso Chess Olympiad.
Asia's first GM Eugene Torre narrowly missed the magic circle with 5.5 points, placing 11th following a draw with GM Richard Bitoon (5.5).
Despite dropping her final game to Fide Master Randy Segarra, WIM Janelle Mae Frayna emerged best performer among the four female bets with 4.5 points.
Joey Albert Florendo nipped Allan Cantonjos for the Challenger section crown. They both wound up with 8.0 points, but Florendo prevailed after the tiebreaker.
Prospero "Butch" Pichay, president/chairman of the organizing National Chess Federation of the Philippines, graced the closing ceremony with Cong. Neri Colmenares, NCFP vice president for Visayas, and GM Jayson Gonzales, NCFP executive director and tournament director.
The foreign players will stay in the country for the $30,000 Philippine Sports Commission-Puregold Chess Challenge starting tomorrow at the same venue.