CEBU CITY -- Only a miracle can save the Cagayan de Oro chessers from going home empty-handed in the final day of the 2017 National Age Group Chess Championship grandfinals in Robinsons Galleria here.
This, after from over two dozens of children sent by Cagayan de Oro in the Queen City of the South, only David Rey Ancheta and Ruelle Canino are left with a china man’s chance to make it in the top-3 of their respective age categories.
Ancheta of Corpus Christi is trailing at fifth place with 7.5 points after the 13th round and has to do better with two more rounds left in the 12-under boys division.
Michael Concio Jr. vitually copped the title with 12 points, while Mark Jay Bacojo and Joshua Michael Yongco currently in second and third places with 10 points and 8.5 points, in that order, are poised to share the slots with Concio in the Asean championships.
Jerish John Velarde stands at fourth place with eight points after the round.
Canino, on the other hand, moves to solo third place with seven points after defeating Cebu City's Kristina Concepcion Belano in the 10th round of the 10-under girls category.
But, she drops to fifth place in the 11th round after absorbing a heart-breaking loss to Kimberly Colaste.
A win against Colaste would propel Canino to third place with two more rounds left.
Canino was winning in the king-and-pawn endgame with Colaste when she committed a costly blunder.
Antonelle Berthe Racasa continued to hold the lead with 10.5 points in their category, while Daren dela Cruz took the second place with 9.5 points.
Belano and Colaste shared third place with 7.5 points apiece, while Canino is half a point behind.
“Naa sa milagro nalang sila duha ug kinahanglan nila dag-on ang duha ka rounds. Ug depende sab kung mapilde ang nag-una pa nila,” said Johnnel Balquin, head delegation of the Cagayan de Oro chess contingent.
Jasaan pride Clyde Harris Saraos, who was in solo second in the ninth round, faltered his way to a top-3 finish in the 14-under boys.
Saraos succumbed to a 10th round defeat against newly-crowned 14-unde boys champion Daniel Quizon and was held to a draw by Christopher Khalil Kis-ing in the 11th and final round.
Jave Mareck Peteros grabbed second place, while Justine Diego Mordido occupied third with 7.5 points.
Kis-ing also finished with 7.5 points but lost to Mordido in the tiebreaker. Saraos was fifth.
Meanwhile, coach Balquin shares third with five others in the tourney’s side event for players of all ages.
Balquin lost to Cebu favorite National Master Merben Roque in the fourth round before posting a win in the fifth round.
Balquin now has 4 points along with Fide Master Roel Abelgas, Rommel Ganzon, Carlito Lavega, Sherwin Orbeta and Michael Joseph Pagaran.
Roque, on the other hand, enjoys the lead with perfect score, as fellow Cebuano Peterson Sia moves to second place with 4.5 points.
Roque and Sia will duel in the penultimate sixth round on board one in the race for the P12,000 top purse.
Balquin confronts Sherwin Orbeta on board three, as of this writing.
Another Kagay-anon, Nazario Ubanan is in a five-way tie for ninth place with 3.5 points to show.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 10, 2017.