Chess: Bitoon regains share of lead in Singapore

December 31, 2011 6:09 am 

MANILA, Dec. 30 –After a sorry loss in the fifth round, Filipino Grandmaster Richard Bitoon bounced back in contention Friday.

Medellin, Cebu native Bitoon defeated International Master Hafizulhelmi of Malaysia in the sixth round to regain a share of the lead in the 2nd ASEAN Men Campomanes Cup, the centerpiece event of the Singapore Chess Festival at the Jurong East Sports Complex in Singapore.

International Master Marlon Bernardino reported that the victory was a quick and resounding response to Bitoon's loss at the hands of IM Nguyen Van Huy of Vietnam. He now has a total of 4.5 points to put him back to the top along with fellow GMs Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia and Cao Sang of Vietnam.

“Marami pang puwedeng mangyari. As long as hawak ko ‘yung kapalaran ko walang dahilan para mag-panic,” said Bitoon, who kept his usual jovial self following his loss on Wednesday night.

Megaranto relinquished the lead after settling for a draw opposite Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam. Cao also gained a share of the lead following his win over FIDE Master Daniel Chan of Singapore.

Meanwhile, the reigning national junior champion replaced the former national junior titlist as the country’s brightest hope in the Singapore Open.

This year’s junior champ Mari Joseph Turqueza scored his third straight win by beating Rahman Masruri of Indonesia and improved to 4.5 points to move within half point of the co-leaders FM Andrean Susilodinata of Indonesia and Christer Jon Aplin of Singapore. Overnight co-leader and 1996 national junior champ Roberto Suelo, Jr. bowed to Aplin to fall a full point behind the leaders.

Veteran campaigner Alex Milagrosa put more pressure on the leaders after downing Malaysia’s national champion Lim Zhuo Ren in the sixth round.

Also in contention were GM Eldar Gasanov of Ukraine with 4.5 points and FM Hamed Nouri and Suelo with 4.0 points.

The country’s young players also remained in hot pursuit of the title. They continued to at least share a piece of the lead in four of the eight divisions entering the backstretch of the 2nd Singapore International Youth Championships.

Vince Angelo Medina drew with Azman Hisham Mohd Nabil of Singapore to keep solo leadership with 5.0 points in the Open Under-17; Michelle Yaon notched her fifth win in five games at the expense of Olivia Madhavan of Malaysia to solidify her hold of the lead in the Girls U-17; Paulo Bersamina remained perfect in six games and maintained a full point advantage over the rest f the field in the Open U-14 after beating Azhar Muhd Irfan Haqqim of Singapore; and Dennis Gutierrez III grabbed the solo lead with a win over Alfred Chua of Singapore in the Open U-8.

The Filipinos' chess campaign in Singapore would not have been possible without the support of National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) Chairman/President Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr., Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Ricardo Garcia and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Peping Cojuangco. (PNA) RMA/LOR

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