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Bersamina, Mendoza near title

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International Master Paulo Bersamina and Woman FIDE Master Shania Mae Mendoza pulled off different results to close in on the title after the eighth or penultimate round in the classical premier Under-20 division of the 19th ASEAN+ Age Group Chess Championships at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City.

Bersamina, 19, dumped countryman Sarri Subahani to go into the final round with seven points, or a full, one-point lead over Indonesia FIDE Master Azarya Jodi Setyaki, who split the point with 14-year-old prodigy Daniel Quizon of the Philippines to remain at second with six points.

The two-time Olympiad veteran will need just a draw against top seed IM John Marvin Miciano in the final round, which was being played at press time, to clinch the title.

Mendoza, 19, for her part, halved the point with Marife dela Torre to hike her total to 6.5 points, or just half a point against Davao City pride Ella Grace Moulic, who downed Zsuzsa Grace Tabudlong to improve to six points.

Mendoza was tackling Laila Camel Nadera while Moulic dela Torre in the last round in the tournament organized by Chess Event International and sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Phl, bankrolled by the Phl Sports Commission and backed by Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN Chess Federation elected NCFP president Butch Pichay as its new president and Grandmaster Jayson Gonzales as one of its three vice presidents in the election done earlier in the day.

Pichay then called for unity and sought the full support of all 10-member nations to support the re-election bid of NCFP secretary-general and Phl Olympic Committee chairman Bambol Tolentino as FIDE sec-gen.

Dale Bernardo drubbed Ernesto Canete to continue to lead the Open U18 with 7.5 points, or just half a point atop Far Eastern U standout John Merill Jacutina, who stayed at second and in title contention with seven points by blasting Carl Zirex Sato.

In the Open U16, Ronald Canino downed FIDE Master Pham Phu Vinh of Vietnam to seize the solo lead with six points even as FM Alekhine Nouri fell from the top with a stinging defeat to Phl bet Christin Marcelo Olaybal.

In the girls’ U12, the Phl’ Antonella Berthe Racasa stunned top seed Bui Ngoc Phuong Ngi of Vietnam to jump into a five-player logjam on top with 5.5 points apiece.

Ruelle Canino of the girls U10 and Al-Basher Buto of the Open U8 suffered painful defeats to Kaye Lalaine Regidor of the Phl and Nguyen Khanh Lam of Vietnam but still kept their grip of the lead.

Canino remained on top with 6.5 points, half a point ahead over Regidor while Buto had to share the lead with Vietnamese Nguyen Vuong Tung Lam, who zapped Nambiar Aarav of India, following the painful loss.