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24 May 2009

Antonio is solo leader in Subic chessfest

Grandmaster Rogelio "Joey" Antonio Jr. outsmarted Le Quang Liem of Vietnam in 59 moves of the Sicilian to vault into the solo lead after the ninth round of the 2009 Asian Continental individual chess championship Thursday at the Subic Exhibition and Convention Center in Subic Bay Freeport.

Flashing the form that made him the country's top player only several years ago, the 47-year-old pride of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro finished off his sixth-seeded Vietnamese rival to claim his fourth win in the last five rounds.

The win enabled the 28th-seeded Filipino to grab the solo lead with seven points on five wins and four draws with only two rounds remaining in this prestigious, 11-round tournament organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) in cooperation with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Half a point behind Antonio are two Indian and two Chinese player – Grandmasters Chanda Sandipan and Surya Shekhar Ganguly and Grandmasters Hou Yifan and Zhou Weiqi.

Sandipan drew with Hou, while Ganguly and Zhou halved the point in 39 moves of the Sicilian to remain within striking distance.

Grandmaster Wesley So also made his presence felt, beating Elshan Moradiabadi of Iran in only 33 moves of the Ruy Lopez to keep his hopes alive.

The 15-year-old So capitalized on a blunder by his Iranian rival – a queen push to h4 on the 26th move – to turn a difficult, middle game struggle into a resounding victory with the white pieces.

When the end came, So is threatening to mate Moradiabadi’s king with either his queen on g8 or his knight on d6.

Overall, So has a nine-round total of six points on four wins, four draws and only one loss. (c/o Manila Bulletin)

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