BAGUIO City’s Leonard Abalos upended Mark Mendoza in the fifth round to gain a share of the lead in the junior division of the Shell National Youth Active Chess Championships Northern Luzon leg at the Cagayan Colleges in Tuguegarao during the weekend.

Abalos, ranked 19th in the 20-and-under class, joined first day leader and Far Eastern University bets McDominique Lagula and Vince Medina

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Top seed Lagula swept his first five matches after a mediocre 23rd place finish in the National Capital Region leg last week. He stamped his class over Charlene Durian, Dick Caranguian, Chito Aguinaldo, Marfred Sanchez and Bernard Nillo Jr., also a bet from Baguio City to put himself in contention for one of the three berths in the national finals slated in October in Manila.

The ninth ranked Medina, on the other hand, spiked his fine start with an upset victory over second seed Jan Galan of La Salle Greenhills in the fourth round then beat Lennon Salgados with the black in the fifth. He earlier toppled Jayson Garcia, Jayson Dumlao and Jenerwin Cadaba.

Abalos, upended No. 5 Mendoza in the fifth round to join the FEU bets in the lead heading to the last three rounds of the tournament sponsored by Pilipinas Shell for the 18th year and sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Kevin Mirano, another FEU entry, stood in solo fourth with 4.5 points while 12 others pooled four points, led by Galan, Nillo, Mark Asejo and Cagayan State U’s Gerard Orteza.

The top three finishers in all legs will advance to the grand finals slated Oct. 23 to 24 at SM Megamall. Each leg will be an eight-round Swiss system event for the juniors and nine-round for the kiddies.

The grand finals will be a nine-round tournament for both divisions.

The organizers have also added another leg in Mindanao to accommodate the big number of players from the 20-and-under and 14-and-under age groups in the region.

The addition made the competitions an eight-stage circuit, spread over the key cities in the country, culminating in the grand finals in Manila in October.