Grandmaster Richard Bitoon scored twice in a row to grab the lead after 9 rounds of the 2015 Battle of the Grandmasters-National Chess Championships, Open Division, held at the PSC National Athletes’ Dining Hall inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, Pablo Ocampo Sr. St., Malate, Manila.
GM Bitoon, whose idol is the former world champion Bobby Fischer, prevailed over National Master Roel Abelgas in 61 moves of a Queen’s Indian in the 8th round and dashed the hopes of Woman International Master Janelle Mae Frayna of getting a WGM norm in the 9th, beating her in 43 moves of a Reti/Larsen’s Opening. He now has 12 points to show in 9 games of play using the Torre-Pichay scoring system of 2 for a win, 1 for draw and 0 for a loss with 1.5-0.5 score for a draw by stalemate.
Tied for second are International Master Haridas Pascua and idle grandmaster Joey Antonio who took the bye in the 9th round. Both tallied 10 points. IM Pascua drew with GM Darwin Laylo in 31 moves of a King’s Indian in the 9th round and in a Nimzo-Indian with NM Jerad Docena in the 8th round as GM Antonio drew with top seed GM John Paul Gomez.
Gomez, Laylo, Docena and IM Mari Joseph Turqueza is in 4th to 7th places. Turqueza drew a bye in the 8th and with IM Paulo Bersamina in the 9th round in a Sicilian game. Bersamina, defending champion GM Eugene Torre and NM Abelgas is in 8th to 10th places. WIM Frayna brought up the rear.
A 3-way-logjam ensued in the women’s division as erstwhile leaders Woman International Master Jan Jodilyn Fronda and WFM Marie Antoinette San Diego got both the upset axes of Ateneo’s Brena Mae Membrere in a Benko/Volga Gambit in 33 moves and WNM Christy Lamiel Bernales in 44 moves of a Modern Defense respectively. Tied with them now is defending champion WIM Catherine Pereńa Secopito who subdued the faltering Arvie Lozano in 66 moves also in a Modern Defense. WNM Bernales is in 4th place.
WIM Mikee Charlene Suede and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza are in 5th-6th followed by Membrere, WNM Jean Karen Enriquez and Lozano in 7th to 9th. Judith Pineda in 10th place.
The tournament is being organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and supported financially by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in cooperation with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).