Friday, July 24, 2009

Filipinos in the Oceania Zonal

From left: R. Hernandez, J. Marcos, K. Tan, J. Tan, D. Lapitan, and R. Lapitan. (Photo: Ric Ambatali)

FIVE Filipino chess players, representing four different countries, saw action in the open section of the 2009 Oceania Zonal chess championship. They are Joselito Marcos (FIDE Rating 2200), Papua New Guinea; Kevin Tan (1956), Australia; Roberto Hernandez (1834), Palau; Daniel Lapitan (1287), Australia; and Fernando Aguilar (unrated), Solomon Islands.

The event took place in the Visions Conference Room of the Outrigger Twin Towns Resort in Tweed Heads, Gold Coast on the Queensland/NSW border from Saturday 20 to Friday 26 June 2009. Australia’s newly minted grandmaster David Smerdon topped the 9-round Swiss System event.

Kevin Tan, highest placed among the Pinoys, tied for 45-50 places, with 4 points (3 wins-2 draws-4 losses). Marcos (2-3-4), Lapitan (2-3-4), and Aguilar (3-1-5) tied for 51-61 places with 3.5 points apiece. Hernandez (3-0-6) tied for 62-66 places with 3 points.

Tan has only a solitary point in the first 5 rounds but made up for it by scoring 3 points in the last 4 rounds, which was only good for a rating performance of 1650 according to the Chess Results website.

Marcos, who has a starting rank of 20 out of 73 participants, was among the leading pack until his mobile phone alarmed in the midst of 4th round action against New Zealand’s Paul Spiller that dearly cost him the game. He was on 50% performance after 7 rounds but unfortunately lost his last two games. His rating performance of 1892 is tops among the Pinoys. Still it was a big disappointment because he prepared long and hard for the competition.

Eleven-year old Lapitan over-performed with a performance rating of 1751. Tallying 1.5 points only after 6 rounds, he scored 2 points in the remaining 3 rounds, and finished the event with an upset but convincing victory over Fiji’s top rated Damian Norris (2142). Daniel also registered the shortest victory in the Zonal open when he beat another Fijian, Gaurav Raicar (1560), in 12 moves in the fifth round.

Aguilar, easily the most senior among them at 67 and playing in his first international tournament, was winless over-the-board after 4 rounds. Having finally gotten accustomed to the zonal atmosphere after two days, he stabilized his play and scored 50% in the last 5 rounds for a performance rating of 1790.

Palau Royal Resort musician and chess columnist Hernandez, was probably awed by the strength of the competition and did not perform to his rating level. The international exposure, nevertheless, would likely boost his confidence in future competitions.

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