GM-candidate Haridas Pascua and WIM Bernadette Galas crowned themselves as the champions in the 2017 Battle of GMs-National Chess Championships at the Alphaland Makati Place.
Pascua, ever so eager to join the country’s elite and become the country’s next grandmaster, humbled IM Ronald Bancod in the 11th and final round to capture the title in the prestigious, 12-player tournament with 7.5 points on five wins and five draws.
More importantly, Pascua earned the right to join the Philippine team to the 43rd World Chess Olympiad scheduled Sept. 23-Oct. 7 in Batumi, Georgia.
The 24-year-old Information Technology graduate at the University of Baguio finished half a point ahead of erstwhile co-leader IM Paolo Bersamina, who was held to a draw by United States-based GM Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. in another keenly-watched final round encounter.
“I’m very happy to win the title,” said the Mangatarem, Pangasinan-born Pascua, who earned his third and final GM norm in the Abu Dhabi Masters Open two years ago but still need to reach an ELO rating of 2500 to be conferred with the title by the World Chess Federation (FIDE).
Top seed GM John Paul Gomez outlassed reigning national junior champion John Marvin Miciano to join Bersamina in second to third places .
Barcenilla finished in solo fourth place with 6.5 points.
IM Chito Garma trounced early sensation Jonathan Jota to share fifth to sixth places with his victim with five points.
Jota, who rocked the tournament with a pair of upset victories over GMs Rogelio Antonio Jr., and Darwin Laylo, suffered his third loss since he defaulted his seventh-round game against Gomez due to a conflict with the NCAA schedule.
In the women’s division, Galas outplayed WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego to bag the title with 7.5 points and earned a ticket to the Batumi Olympiad next year.
Galas, the UAAP Season 78 MVP with La Salle, was half a point ahead of Catherine Perena-Secopito, who was upset by WIM Shania Mae Mendoza.
Despite the loss, Secopito finished second, followed by WIM Mikee Charlene Suede and San Diego.
Suede whipped WFM Chery Ann Mejia to join San Diego with 6.5 points.
Mendoza wound up fifth with six points, followed by Christy Bernales and Mejia with 5.5 points.
Notably absent is the country’s top female player, Janelle Mae Frayna, who is scheduled to compete in the Asian Mertial Arts and Indoor Games.
National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Cong. Prospero “Butch” Pichay awarded the trophies and cash prizes to the winners, assisted by NCFP director Cliburn Anthony Orbe and tournament director Red Dumuk.
The event is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) under chairman Butch Ramirez.