FILIPINO Grandmaster Wesley So delivered, but compatriot GMs Oliver Barbosa and Mark Paragua faltered in the opener of the 2013 World Chess Cup in Tromso, Norway, on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
So, ranked 33rd in the 128-player field with his Elo 2710, downed GM Alexander Ipatov of Turkey after 45 moves of a Petroff skirmish (Staunton variation) and stepped on the threshold of advancing to the second round.
Handling white, the 19-year-old So was poised for a mate in two with his rook and queen when Ipatov, the 2012 world junior champion with an Elo 2583, resigned.
Paragua, however, failed to exploit the white pieces and yielded to 28th seed GM Dmitry Jakovenko of Russia (Elo 2724) after 67 moves of a Sicilian (Bastrikov variation).
Barbosa, on the other hand, was forced into a cramped position by the white-playing Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem (Elo 2702) and eventually surrendered after 43 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Declined.
Taking time off from his finance business studies at Webster University in Missouri, So needs only a draw with black against Ipatov on Monday to forge a second-round showdown with either GM Alejandro Ramirez of the United States or GM Evgeny Tomashevsky of Russia who drew their first game.
Their losses put Barbosa and Paragua in must-win situations on Monday to level the count and force rapid playoff matches on Tuesday.
The favorites proved their mettle with top-ranked GM Levon Aronian (Elo 2813) of Armenia, No. 2 GM Fabiano Caruana (2796) of Italy, No. 3 GM Vladimir Kramnik (2784) of Russia, No. 4 GM Alexander Grischuk of Russia, No. 5 GM Sergey Karjakin of Russia, No. 6 GM Hikaru Nakamura (2772) of the United States and No. 7 GM Boris Gelfand of Israel hurdling their opponents.