Grandmaster John Paul Gomez made his presence felt in the 2nd Chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay Cup international chess champions late Friday night at the Subic Bay Travelers Hotel in Subic Bay, Olongapo City.
Gomez, who earned his GM title during the Dresden World Chess Olympiad in 2008 in Germany, handled the white pieces and only used 36 moves of the Catalan in finishing off fellow GM Cedras Barus of Indonesia.
The mechanical engineering graduate is seeded seventh in the 10-round tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) in cooperation with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Gomez is also hoping to bounce back after a not-so-successful campaign in the recently concluded Asian Zone 3.3 Championships in Tagaytay City. He clinched his third straight win to join GM Darwin Laylo, IM Richard Bitoon and untitled Wang Chen of China for the early lead.
“Matagal pa ang laban pero sana magtuloy-tuloy na ‘yung winning streak ko. Mabigat din ang mga kalaban dito,” said Gomez, who opened the tournament with back-to-back victories over compatriots Alcon John Datu and Yves Ranola.
Laylo was equally impressive after trouncing China’s Yu Ruiyan in 53 moves of the Slave, while Bitoon needed 68 moves of the Caro-Kann in toppling GM Mark Paragua. Wang outplayed compatriot GM Li Shilong to match Gomez’s perfect 3-0 start.
GMs Rogelio Antonio Jr. and Eugene Torre lead a big group of players with 2.5 points to stay in contention for the US$6,000 champion’s purse. Top seed GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia is also in that group.
Newly-crowned Asian Zone 3.3 champion GM Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia humbled compatriot Wakiki Kaisar to improve to two points, while Women’s FIDE Master Zhai Mo of China emerged as the highest-placed female player with two points. – JVP, GMA News