GRANDMASTER DARWIN LAYLO upset top seed GM Wesley So to share the limelight with pacesetters GM Buenaventura ?Bong? Villamayor and International Master John Paul Gomez in the fifth round of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines qualifying tournament for the Chess Olympiad at the Mandaluyong City Hall.
Laylo bested So, the country?s top player based on the recent Fide quarterly ratings, after 53 moves of the Queen?s Indian to improve to 3.0 points and stay within sight of Villamayor and Gomez, who have 4.5 points each.
Villamayor trounced National Master Edmundo Gatus in 45 moves of the Pirc, while Gomez whipped NM Noel de la Cruz in 36 moves of the Sicilian Moscow to boost their bid for the Philippine team competing in the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany, in November.
In the sixth round, Villamayor takes on So, who got stuck at 2.0 points, while Gomez meets NM Jony Habla.
Other fifth round results saw IM Ronald Bancod, GM Jayson Gonzales, IM Rolando Nolte and IM Chito Garma hurdle their rivals in the 17-round qualifier.
Bancod, who topped the semifinal round held in the same venue last month, trounced Bitoon in 31 moves of the Colle system to improve to 3.5 points in the company of NM Leonardo Carlos, who split the point with Habla in 36 moves of the Ruy Lopez.
Gonzales humbled slumping GM Mark Paragua in 36 moves of the Queen?s opening to raise his score to three points, the same total posted by NM Rolando Nolte, IM Chito Garma and Laylo.
Nolte, the pride of Jaro, Iloilo, downed Pascua in 33 moves of the Exchange Gruenfeld while Garma outplayed NM Jerry Nodado in 56 moves of the Sicilian.
Former UST standout Shercila Cua bested Letran ace Jan Jodilyn Fronda in 44 moves of the French to grab the solo lead in the women?s division with 3.5 points in four rounds.
Catherine Perena drew with Sherily Cua in 36 moves of the Catalan to stay in second place with three points.