Bersamina, Pascua save day for Pinoy chessers

December 11, 2018
National Chess Federation of the Philippines
National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) President/Chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay (left) and top seed GM Wang Hao of China shake hands after making the ceremonial moves at the start of the Asian Continental Chess Championships at the Tiara Oriental Hotel in Makati last Monday. Also in photo are Toti Abundo, Cong. Neri Colmenares, GM Eugene Torre and GM Jayson Gonzales. Photo by Rey Nillama

GRANDMASTER-candidate Paulo Bersamina  pulled off a stunning upset win over third seed GM Le Quang  Liem of Vietnam in a smashing debut in the 17th  Asian Continental Chess Championships-2nd  Manny Pacquiao Cup at the Tiara Oriental Hotel in Makati last Monday.

Bersamina, who needs only one  more FM  norm to become the  country’s   newest GM, pulled the  rug from  under Le  in  36 moves of the Guioco Piano to  become  the lone Filipino winner  in the  prestigious nine-round competition  serving as qualifier to the 2019 World Cup.

The 20-year-old  Filipino chanpion, who bagged the standard and rapid chess  golds during the ASEAN  age-group chamnpionships in  Davao City last June,  joins 27 other  players in the early lead in  the  event sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

Equally impressive was IM Haridas Pascua, who held fourth seed GM Santosh Gujrathi Vidit of Indian to a draw in  36 moves of a Gruenfeld Defense.

The win by Bersamina and draw by Pascua  provided  the only bright spots  for the 20-man Filipino team.

Except for Bersamina and Pascua, all 18 Filipino campaigners  fell by   the wayside in the face of  strong foreign challenge.  Losing their  first-round matches were GM John Paul Gomez, who lost to No. 2 GM Wei Yi of China; GM Darwin Laylo, who fell to  No. 5 GM B. Adhiban of India; GM Oliver Dimakiling, who  bowed to No. 7 GM Ni Hua of China; GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr.. who yielded No. 8 GM S. P. Sethuraman of India; IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia, who stumbled to No. 10 GM Lu Shanglei  of China; Jerad Docena, who lost to  No. 11 GM Surya Ganguly of India;  IM Roderick Nava, who succumbed to GM Alireza Firouzja of Iran;  IM Ricky de Guzman, who fell to GM  Rinat Jumabayev of Kazakhstan;  IM John Marvin Miciano, who lost to IM Nodirbek Yakubboev of Uzbekistan; and IM Chito Garma, who fell  to  GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan.

In the women’s division, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna was held to a draw with Sivanesan Nithyalakshmi of Malaysia while WFM Shania Mae Mendoza battled No. 3 IM Guo Qi of China to a draw.

Also drawing their matches against foreign opponents were were  WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego and WFM Chery Ann Mejia