RUSSIAN Grandmaster Ivan Popov downed countryman GM Anton Demchenko yesterday and took the solo lead in the PSC-Puregold International Chess Challenge at Celebrity Sports Plaza in Quezon City.
The top-seeded Popov prevailed after 22 moves of a Ruy Lopez, raising his total to 4.5 points and moving ahead of Filipino GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra and John Paul Gomez and Georgian GM Levan Pantsulaia, winner of the recent Philippine International Chess Championship, after five rounds of the $30,000 tournament.
The United States-based Sadorra and the third-seeded Pantsulaia drew after 47 moves of a Closed Catalan/English Opening; while Gomez beat IM Oliver Dimakiling after 45 moves of a Caro-Kann Panov-Botnivik variation. They were tied at 4.0 points.
Bunched at 3.5 points were Armenian GM Avetik Grigoryan, Filipino IM Haridas Pascua, Filipino GM Richard Bitoon, Indian IM Narayana Sunilduth Lyna, Filipino GM Oliver Barbosa and Filipino IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia.
Garcia, stalwart of Ateneo De Manila University, stunned GM Darwin Laylo after 50 moves of a Trompovsky Attack; while Pascua bested David Elorta after 30 moves of a Bogo Indian. Grigoryan and Sunilduth Lyna drew their match while Bitoon split the point with Georgian GM Merab Gagunashvili.
Barbosa, returning after a long US campain, trounced IM Emmanuel Senador in 52 moves of a Caro-Kann: Two Knights variation.
The sixth round of the tournament sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission and Puregold was being played last night with Pantsulaia facing Popov and Sadorra tackling Gomez in the featured matches.
Sadorra drew with Popov in board 1 and so did Grigoryan and Pantsulaia in board 2 of Round 4 held Tuesday night. Gomez tamed Pascua while Demchenko thwarted IM Paulo Bersamina.
Other key sixth round matches pitted Grigoryan against Bitoon, Barbosa against Pascua and Garcia against Sunilduth Lyna.
The tournament being supported by Asia United Bank, Burlington, Microtel and Harold's Hotel stakes $5000 to the champion of the Open division and $700 to the winner of the Challengers' section confined to players with Elo 2200 and below.