AKLAN Province’s lone National Master took the 7th DWP Mixed Masters Invitational Rapid Chess Tournament played over the weekend at the Bayview Residence Hotel here.
NM Francis Jocson of Roxas City took the P10,000 top purse and the champion’s trophy after beating collegiate standout Bryll John Arellano of Negros Occidental in the last round and emerging with the better Sonnenborn-Berger quotient.
Jocson actually tied for first with another Negros college standout, Joel Pimentel Jr., when both tallied five wins and two losses in the 8-player final round of the event. Pimentel settled for the 2nd prize money of P6,000.
Each victory in the tournament scores 3 points, a draw merits a point and zero for a loss.
Filipino GM Richard Bitoon (2515), the first grandmaster to play in the prestigious competition, was coasting to what seemed an effortless tournament victory on a 4-win, 2-draw slate when disaster struck in the dramatic final round.
Needing only a draw to emerged champion, the 36-year old Bitton was instead shocked into submission by defending champion NM Cesar J. Mariano, relegating the 36-year old to a third-place finish.
Bitoon later said admitted that needing only a final round draw drove him to complacency and thus did not play his game with Mariano with enough enthusiasm and intensity. Bitoon, who became the country’s 16th grandmaster last year, settled for the P4,000 third prize. Mariano, on the other hand, took the P2,000 fourth prize pot.
The other championship round finishers are 5th, Arellano, P1,500; 6th, Boyet Lavega, P1,200; 7th, Fritz Bryan Porras, P1,000; and 8th, Mark Mariano, P800.
A total of fifty-five players competed in the event organized by retired and active members of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Early favorite FIDE Master Sander Severino, who finished prominently in the just-concluded Bangkok Open in Thailand, seemed off-form and was knocked out of the competition in the Round of 16. Two other National Masters, Fred Neri and Alfred Acaling, were also eliminated in the same round.
The 7th edition of the tournament was the first to feature a grandmaster and the first homegrown event to be sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.
Chief DWP organizer Nonoy Briones said they will invite Bitoon again and probably another grandmaster to spice up the 8th edition of the event. (Boy Espejo Jr.)