TWO-time World Chess Olympiad veteran GM Jayson Gonzales continued his strong showing in the 41 Open International Barbera del Valles 2018 chess championships, toppling third seed GM Namig Guliyev of Azerbaijan in a crucial seventh-round duel in Spain.
Gonzales, who represented the country twice in the Olympiad in 2004 Calvia and 2008 Dresden, took the initiative with white against the higher-rated Guliyev (ELO 2545) and came out with a win that catalpulted him to 11th place with five points on four wins, two draws and only one loss.
The 49-year-old coach-trainer at Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence (PACE) is only a full point behind solo leader IM P. Iniyan of India (6 points) and half a point behind top seed GM Gadir Guseinov of Azerbaijan (5.5), No. 14 IM Luis Lazaro Aguero Jimenez of Cuba (5.5) and No. 5 IM Hipolito Asis Gargatagli of Spain (5.5).
The Bicol-born Gonzales, who is widely credited for turning Far EAstern University as one of the winningest collegiate chess teams, faces another big test when he plays No. 6 IM Venkataraman Karthik of India in the eighth and penultimate round.
Asia's first GM Eugene Torre settled for a draw with No. 57 Shrivatri Anuj of India; WGM; IM John Marvin Miciano split the point with No. 53 FM Aniruddha Deshpande of India; and Janelle Mae Frayna lost to No.60 Atharva Jaeel of India.
Torre, who also competed in the unique four-player Legends tournament in the Vila de Platja D’ Aro International Chess Festival that also featured former world champion Anatoly Karpov of Russia, has a seven-round score of four points on two wins, four draws and one loss.
The 66-year-old Torre is in 21st place.
The two other Filipino players are also too far behind in the overall standings with Miciano and Frayna nursing 3.5 and three points, respectively.
The Filipinos’ eighth-round opponents are:
Gonzales vs No. 6 IM Venkataraman Karthik of India;
Torre vs No. 36 FM Guha Mitrabha of India;
Miciano vs No. 39 FM Akshita Gorti of Malaysia.
Frayna vs No. 65 Anustoop Biswas of India.
The Filipinos’ trip is supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), headed by president/chairman Prospero “Butch"” Pichay, and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), led by PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.