UNHERALDED bets bared their fangs in the just-concluded chess tournament of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro.

Journeyman Basilio Pandan Jr., formerly with the Philippine Army chess team, bested a master-laden field to top the Engage Open category. While the rarely-heard Chiza Gaabucayan defeated ex-Batang Pinoy champion Sittie Halia Sabo to rule the Engage Women division.

The 30-something Pandan, who held junior sensation Lennon Hart Salgados to a draw in the final round, considered his upset win over National Master Rustum Tolentino as the turning point of his awe-inspiring finish.

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Pandan, actually tied with Jaraula Cup winner NM Levi Mercado at 4.5 points, but collared the 5-round tourney's championship trophy via superior tiebreak results.

"I'm very proud for having this achievement. Rustum is a tough and experienced master and beating him in a convincing manner is a thing you can hardly repeat in any given day," Pandan said of Tolentino, who just won the "Feast of Nazarene" chessfest here in Barangay 26.

Mercado, fresh from bagging the P25,000 top purse of the Mayor Jaraula Cup, looked like to rule anew. But what he called as a "won game" with the 16-year-old Salgados in the penultimate round apparently ended in a draw.

"Daug na kaayo kay two pawns advantage na ko kay Lennon lamang pa sa posisyon when I blundered away. Suwerte pud si Pandan kay wala ko niya nakontra," Mercado told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

Salgados edged out fellow 4-pointer Teddy Acedo and 14-year-old Keith Ibaoc in the Bucholz tiebreak to grab the third-place trophy.

With Pandan, Mercado, Salgados, Acedo and Ibaoc in the top-10 are Jake Gonzales, Tolentino, Jason Nabatlao, Eutemio Coquilla and Ralph Dalauta.

Played only in four rounds, the women's rivalry was top-scored by Gaabucayan, Shian Tigulo, Sabo and Carol Anne Chua who all finished at 3 points.

Gaabucayan, who lost to Chua in the last round, however, occupied the first place after the Bucholz tiebreaker.

Event organizer, Engineer Rogelio Golez Jr. said another chess event for the "kiddie players only" will take place at Xavier University's college engineering department in the latter part of this month.