IM Paulo Bersamina and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza continued their impressive showing in the 20 years old and under category, even as 8-under frontrunner Al-Basher “Basty” Buto settled for a draw for the first time in the 2018 ASEAN+ Age Group Championships at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City.
Bersamina, who is hoping to redeem himself after a disappointing finish in the recent Asian Universities in Tagaytay City, outduelled No.17 seed Nguyen Duy Linh of Vietnam to assume the solo lead with six points on five wins and two draws
The 20-year-old mainstay of UAAP champion National University is now half a point ahead of Jodi Setyaki Azarya of Indonesia with only two rounds left in the nine-round competition organized by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), headed by president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay and sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), led by chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.
Azarya, one of only three Indonesians in the field, battled to a draw with top seed IM John Marvin Miciano of the Philippines.
Mendoza, who topped the recent Batumi Olympiad qualifying tournament, drew with No. 2 seed Nguyen Thanh Thuy Tien of Vietnam to lead two other Filipinas with six points.
Ella Grace Moulic split the point with Vo Thi Thuy Tien of Vietnam to grab second place with five points while Kylen Joy Mordido upset WFM Dita Karenza of Indonesia to earn third place with 4.5 points.
Filipino players are also in the hunt for the golds in other age categories with Dale Bernardo (6.5 points), John Merill Jacutina (6), Istraelito Rilloraza (5), Carl Zirex Sato (5) and Darry Bernardo (4.5) leading the way in the boys 18-under; and FM Alekhine Nouri (5.5), Ronald Canino (5), Gal Brien Palasigue (4.5), Japeth Aaron Caresosa (4.5) and Christian Marcelo Olaybal (4.5) towing the pack in the boys 16-under.
Buto, nicknamed “Vietnamese Slayer” for his smashing 5/5 score against his Vietnamese opponents, also kept the lead in the boys 8-under with 6.5 points despite a draw with Nambiar Aarav of India.
It was the first draw for Buto after six straight wins.
The seven-year-old student of Faith Christian School in Cainta is a full point ahead of Vietnamese Le Pham Minh Duc and Nguyen Vuong Tung Lam.
With most of the ASEAN countries shying away from the competition and turning it into a virtual dual match between host Philippines and Vietnam, the battle for supremacy remains a toss up with players taking a much-needed rest Saturday.
But while Filipinos have a tight grip on four age divisions in 20-under, 18-under, 16-under and 8-under, the Vietnamese hold sway in the three others -- 14-under, 12-under and 10-under
Vietnam is also a lot better in the girls side, leading the Philippines in five of seven categories.
The Vietnamese lead in the girls 18-under, 16-under, 14-under, 12-under and 8-under.
Aside from Mendoza in the girls 20-under, the Filipinas lead in the girls 10-under with Ruelle Canino (6.5), Angela Gadut Mecel (5.5) and Daren de la Cruz (5) occupying the top three spots with two rounds left.