So, Viet GM stay on top

Draw leaves pair half a point clear of Asian Zonal field

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01:32 AM January 26th, 2013

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January 26th, 2013 01:32 AM

Standings after round 4 (PH unless stated):

3.5 points—GM Wesley So, GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (Vietnam); 3.0—GM Darwin Laylo, FM Haridas Pascua, GM Susanto Megaranto (Indonesia) , IM Nguyen Doc Hoa (Vietnam), IM Bayarsaikhan Gundavaa (Mongolia)

TAGAYTAY CITY—Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So salvaged a draw with Vietnamese GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son Thursday night as they stayed on top of the  Asian Zone 3.3 Chess Championship at Tagaytay International Convention Center.

Handling black, the top-seeded So (Elo 2682) and the No. 2-ranked Nguyen (Elo 2631) split the point after 44 moves of a Neo-Gruenfeld. They both climbed to 3.5 points after four rounds of the nine-round tournament that lured 42 players from five countries.

“I’m OK with the draw,” said So, who took a break from his studies at Webster University in the United States to seek one of two berths at stake in this year’s World Cup set in Norway.

The 19-year-old So, who is scheduled to compete in the tough Reykjavik Open next month, handled white against Mongolian GM-elect Bayarsaikhan Gundavaa in the fifth round last night.

Nguyen tangled with Filipino GM Darwin Laylo. Gundavaa and Laylo split the point after 30 moves of a Gruenfeld defense to post 3.0 points in the company of defending champion Indonesian GM Susanto Megaranto, Vietnamese International Master Nguyen Doc Hoa and Fide Master Haridas Pascua.

Megaranto subdued IM Rolando Nolte in 85 moves of a Ruy Lopez while Nguyen Doc Hoa bested GM Rogelio Barcenilla Jr. after 42 moves of a King’s Indian Defense.

Pascua, the rising star from Mangatarem, Pangasinan, stunned GM John Paul Gomez.

Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre and 12-time national champion GM Rogelio Antonio agreed to a draw and were at 2.5 points in the company of GM Mark Paragua, winner of the recent PSC Cup and six others.

Bunched with them are GM Richard Bitoon, Vietnamese FM Tran Tuan Minh, Mongolian FM Gombosuren Munkhgal, Vietnamese GM Dao Thien Hai, Vietnamese GM Cao Sang and Vietnamese IM Nguyen Van Huy.

Tagaytay Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino Jr., who is hosting the tournament in his capacity as Asian Zone 3.3 president, said he expects So to beat Gundavaa.

In their past five meetings, So beat Gundavaa four times and drew once. Roy Luarca

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