December 12, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Pangilinan, Jota set Shell Chessfest Batangas pace

STEPHEN Rome Pangilinan and Jonathan Jota dished out top form to wrest control in their respective divisions while Michael Concio, Jr., Emerson dela Cruz and Jerlyn Mae San Diego forged ahead in kiddies side of the Shell National Youth Active Chess Championship at SM Batangas in Batangas City over the weekend.

Over 340 players are vying in the two-day tournament kicking off the five-stage regional elims of the annual circuit sponsored by Pilipinas Shell culminating in the grand finals in October at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, including 132 in the 7-12 age group category.

But it was Pangilinan and Jota who took the spotlight in the first half of the two-day tournament with the former scoring 5.5 points to seize a half-point lead over Daniel Quizon and six others after six rounds in juniors division of the 25th staging of the longest running talent-search sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Jota turned in the more impressive start with a sweep of his first six matches in the 17-20 age group, also half-a-point ahead of Louie Alegria and a full point clear of Lawrence Magura and two others.

Earlier, Vanessa Palas, from the Office of the City Mayor, and Darlito Guamos, Pilipinas Shell External Relations manager for Batangas, made the ceremonial moves to highlight the start of the event where the top three finishes in each group, along with the top female player, will gain berths in the national finals.

Concio, dela Cruz and San Diego, all posted 5.5 points to post a half-point lead over Mark Bacojo and six others in the youngest division of the event that has produced top grandmasters, including GMs Wesley So, Mark Paragua and Nelson Mariano II.

The top-seeded Concio toppled Roderico Baque II, Jirah Cutiyog, Jan Corpuz and Jeremy Marticio, then drew with Robert Perez before beating No. 2 Bacojo, while the third-ranked dela Cruz ripped Samantha Sola, Kent Pahamtang, Daren dela Cruz and Darwin Villanueva, Jr. then split the point with San Diego before downing Jerome Aragones.

San Diego, on the other hand, hurdled Rica Fortes, Genesis Andres, Jefferson Villarin, Oscar Cantela and Perez to zero in on the lone female berth in the grand finals.

Pangilinan, seeded behind No. 1 Daniel Quizon in the 13-16 age bracket, crushed Wyndale Falconit, Ella Mendoza, Aaron Cua and Jasmine Balabbo then drew with Christopher Kis-ing before upending Quizon to gain the solo lead.

The top seeded Jota, on the other hand, trampled Kurt Evangelista, Venz Kwan, Alexis Osena, Lawrence Magura, Joemar Mendiogarin and Rothsen Bautista to move three wins away from sweeping the nine-round Swiss system tournament and nail a berth in the national finals.