Severino beats Cuban foe to lead world online chess championship

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FIDE Master Sander Severino smashed Cuban Karla Marrero’s Nimzo-Indian Defense in 51 moves to lead two other Filipinos in the 47-player lead pack after two rounds of the online 4th World Chess Championship on Saturday.

The 36-year-old Mr. Severino, last year’s world champion for the physically disabled, gained the positional edge right in the opening phase that he translated to a pawn advantage and eventually to his second straight win.

Fellow ASEAN and Asian Games veterans Jasper Rom and Rodolfo Sarmiento joined Severino in the lead group after trouncing Poland’s Zuzanna Lukasik and India’s Kumar Naveen, respectively.

Mr. Severino seeks to keep his grip of the lead as he was playing Morocco’s Jamal Messala in the third round at press time in this nine-round event that was joined by 249 participants from 40 nations.

Rom and Sarmiento were battling American Griffin McConnell and Argentinian Leonel Amato, respectively, in the third round.

Just half a point behind was Henry Lopez, who bounced back from an opening round draw with a 43-move victory over China’s Ming Wang of a Slav duel to improve to 1.5 points.

The only other Filipino entry, Darry Bernardo, absorbed his first setback to Malaysian Pin Xie Loo in 33 moves of a Caro-Kann to fall out of the share of the lead with just a point. — Joey Villar