JOHN PAUL GOMEZ — FRANK HOPPE
FILIPINO Grandmaster (GM) John Paul Gomez has never lost a standard game since his memorable run in last August’s World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India where he scored an undefeated seven points in 10 games.
And the 37-year-old Biñan, Laguna native is not about to allow the streak to end as he stayed perfect and at the helm in the MCPL’s Manny Pacquiao International Open Chess Festival in General Santos City.
Mr. Gomez rolled to his third straight win with a 56-move masterpiece over countryman International Master (IM) Michael Concio, Jr. of a Guioco Piano to continue to lead the way along with three others in this nine-round meet staking a top prize amounting to P1.14 million, the country’s biggest in recent years.
And Mr. Gomez will try to extend his streak as he was battling Dutch GM Lucas Van Foreest in the fourth round at press time.
“I’m just taking it a game at a time and just making do with the positions I get into,” said the soft-spoken Mr. Gomez.
The second-seeded Mr. Van Foreest stayed unscathed by besting Russian born, FIDE-represented Konstantin Sek while the other co-leaders top pick GM Hovhannes Gabuzyan of Armenia and fourth seed GM Pier Luigi Basso of Italy hurdled IM John Daniel Bryant of the United States and IM Kim Steven Yap, respectively.
Breathing down the leaders’ necks with 2.5 points apiece were FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri, GM Darwin Laylo, FM Jeth Romy Morado, GM Vitaly Sivuk of Sweden, GM Joey Antonio, IM Cris Ramayrat and IM Rolando Nolte.
Wunderkind Christian Gian Karlo Arca, a 13-year-old Dasmariñas, Cavite-based Panabo, Davao del Norte native, continued to make heads turn as he drew seasoned IMs Ramayrat and Chito Garma after catching a big fish in ninth seed IM Dragos Ceres of Moldova in the opening round the day before. — Joey Villar