MINDANAO’s top non-master Johnnel Balquin on Saturday, April 20, defeated National Master Levi Mercado to catch up with Nazario Ubanan on the lead in Group A level of the Fide-rated Masters Class Chess School Invitational Chess Tournament at 3rd Floor ACT building, Luna-Velez streets, Cagayan de Oro City.
Balquin and Ubanan, winner over the winless Adelardo Pagente, are now tied at 5 points each with still 3 more rounds to go in the Goldcrest Marketing-backed tourney that offers P7,000, P5,000, P4,000, P3,000 to the top-4 finishers.
At joint second place are former National Shell Active junior champion Bryan Jose and Jayson Salubre with 4.5 points apiece.
In Group B level for the region’s top junior players, Mary Joy Tan leads in the pursuit for the P5,000 top purse with 7.5 points output or a clear 2-point edge from second-running Lorebina Carrasco II (5.5 pts).
No less than female Fide chess arbiter FA Margie Narcilla had traveled all the way from Tacurong City to officiate the prestigious event that aims to develop Mindanao chess talents into quality international chess strength.
“Mao ra gyod ang kalipay sa atong godfather in Cagayan de Oro chess nga ma-upgrade atong mga talented nga chess players in Mindanao into world-caliber class,” said tournament director Ronald Rufin, referring to GMC president National Master Roly Tan.
(That’s the only happiness of our godfather in Cagayan de Oro chess, that our talented chess players in Mindanao will get an upgrade to become world-caliber class)
Deputy chess arbiter Lorenzo `Jun’ Cuizon said the invitational tourney is the first Group A level FIDE-rated chessfest being organized in the City of Gold.
“Lisud pagtapok sa mga Class A players from other places in Mindanao. So, very challenging nga ato gyod nasugdan dire through the all out support of National Master Rolly Tan,” Cuizon told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
(It was hard to get together these Class A players coming from different places in Mindanao. It’s very challenging that we started this through the all-out support of National Master Rolly Tan)
Chess-playing town Mayor Jose Antonio Villo of Kisolon, Bukidnon also made his presence felt when he conquered NM Mercado and Cleto “Bong” Vasquez of Cagayan de Oro and drew with fellow Bukidnon chesser Richard Macas to score 2.5 points after six rounds.
National Master Rustum Tolentino, winner of the Atty. Rufus Rodriguez Cup and Kaamulan Festival Open, decided not to play to help in running the cash-rich five-day tournament.