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