GIANT SLAYER. Filipino International Master Rolando Nolte, at right, makes short work of the top-seeded Indonesian Grandmaster Novendra Priasmoro in only 25 moves of the Sicilian defense.
GIANT SLAYER. Filipino International Master Rolando Nolte, at right, makes short work of the top-seeded Indonesian Grandmaster Novendra Priasmoro in only 25 moves of the Sicilian defense.Photo by LYNDE SALGADOS

Nolte shocks 2 GMs, grabs Pacquiao chess solo lead

GENERAL SANTOS CITY - Veteran Filipino International Master Rolando Nolte could be lucky for bringing down two grandmaster opponents yet, so very unlucky for an impending fate to miss crossing paths with another GM foe in the ongoing Manny Pacquiao International Open Chess Tournament at the Family Country Homes Convention Center here.

With two GM norms listed in his battle-scarred chess resume, the grizzled Nolte piled up two monumental upsets in a row on Saturday against the top-seeded Indonesian GM Novendra Priasmoro and Filipino GM Darwin Laylo to take the solo leadership with a perfect 4 points going into the fifth round of the nine-round Swiss System tourney today, December 10, which stakes some $35,000 in total cash prizes.

But with only two GM players in the 70-man field, Nolte's dream of making it to the elite circle of Filipino GMs led by Asia's first grandmaster Eugene Torre and now US-based world chess icon Wesley So could wait for another uncertain time.

"IM Nolte needs to face three Grandmasters to obtain his final GM norm. It's so regrettable that the Vietnamese GM the Manny Pacquiao Chess Association has invited failed to come due to some unforeseen glitches," MPCA chief arbiter National Master James Infiesto told the Manila Times.

"The Manny Pacquiao chessfest has passed all the international standards except for the crucial part about the required three Grandmasters' participation for any deserving player to earn a GM norm," he added.

Whatever, the 51-year-old Nolte is determined to duplicate his 2022 feat in the Manny Pacquiao-backed Gensan tourney as the best Filipino performer.

Barely halfway through the five-day standard event with one hour and 30 minutes plus 30 seconds increment in time control, the white-handling Nolte pulled the biggest upset on Saturday, December 9 by ending the winning streak of the top-seeded Indonesian Grandmaster Novendra Priasmoro in only 25 moves of the Sicilian defense.

Playing the black side, he quickly followed it up in the afternoon by forcing the resignation of Filipino GM Darwin Laylo in 31 pushes of another Sicilian encounter using the Najdorf variation.

Nolte takes on Russian International Master Alexey Polschikov (3.5 points) in the fifth round still in progress as of press time, hoping to solidify his quest for the $5,000 top purse in the nine-round Swiss System individual event.

Also trailing  Nolte at 3.5 points are Russian IM Oleg Badmatsyrenov, Filipino Fide Master Alekhine Nouri, Indonesian FM Arif Abdul Hafiz, and another Filipino FM Mark Jay Bacojo. LYNDE SALGADOS

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