By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Grandmaster Wesley So overpowered former child prodigy John Burke and seized a share of the lead after seven rounds in the 2021 US Chess Championships at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Missouri Wednesday.
Playing black, the Cavite-born So outplayed the 20-year-old Burke in 34 moves of a Ruy Lopez to tie with Samuel Sevian and Aleksandr Lenderman at the helm with 4.5 points.
So currently has two wins and five draws.
Lenderman split the point with Jeffery Xiong in 38 moves of a Queen’s Gambit while Sevian made quick work of Lazaro Bruzon Batista in 22 moves of an English Opening.
Breathing down the leaders’ necks were Leinier Dominguez Perez and Ray Robson with identical 4 points.
Dominguez Perez halved the point with Daniel Naroditsky in 50 moves of a Ruy Lopez Schleimann Defense while Robson lost to top seed Fabiano Caruana in a marathon 90-move duel.
Caruana, who posted his first win following back-to-back defeats, improved to 3.5 at sixth.
Meanwhile, So clashes with Sam Shankland in the eighth round of this 11-round tournament.
Shankland is currently tied at seventh to 10th places with 3 points along with Dariusz Swiercz, Lazaro Bruzon Batista and Daniel Naroditsky.
Jeffery Xiong and Burke are at the bottom with 2.5 points.
Team Paralympic stays undefeated
Team Paralympic extended its amazing streak to five matches in the second round of the online Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) third conference.
Team Paralympic clobbered Rizal, 13.5-7.5, to extend its winning streak and take the solo lead in the Southern Division, while San Juan, Pasig, Laguna and Manila bested their foes for a share of the top spot in the Northern Division.
The San Juan Predators crushed the Palawan Queen’s Gambit, 19-2; the Laguna Heroes thumped the Toledo City Trojans, 17-4; the Pasig City King Pirates routed the Camarines Soaring Eagle, 15-6; and the Manila Indios Bravos blasted the Mindoro Tamaraws, 17-4.
Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla bannered Laguna with blitz and rapid victories over Rommel Ganzon on Board 1.
Also delivering for Laguna were Woman National Master Jean Karen Enriquez, GM John Paul Gomez and Vince Angelo Medina.
Enriquez, Gomez and Medina also outplayed their respective rivals in both blitz and rapid.
Led by GM Oliver Barbosa and International Master Rolando Nolte, San Juan prevailed 7-0 in the blitz and 12-2 in rapid matches.
San Juan’s only loss came at the expense of Woman International Master Jan Jodilyn Fronda, who bowed to WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego in their rapid duel.
Sherily Cua, Kevin Arquero and Eric Labog Jr, for their part, led Pasig with 5-2 and 10-4 victories in the blitz and rapid events, even as IMs Ronald Dableo and John Marvin Miciano spearheaded Manila against Mindoro.
Caloocan trailed the four Northern Division leaders with a 4-1 mark, followed by Isabela (3-2), Olongapo (2-3), Pampanga (2-3), Rizal (1-4), Davao (1-4), Bangkok (1-4) and Pengcheng (0-5).
At second behind Team Paralympic in the Southern Division where Iloilo (4-1), SingQGApore (4-1) and Penang (4-1), followed by Negros (3-2), Camarines (2-3), Lapu-Lapu (2-3), Sunrays (1-4), Mindoro 1-4), Surigao (0-5), Toledo (0-5) and Palawan (0-5).