Unheralded FIDE Master Randy Segarra held his own against two Belarussian Grandmasters, stunning Kirill Stupak in the first round and drawing Vladislav Kovalev in the second to boost his title chances in the Philippine International Chess Championships Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel in Zambales Wednesday.
Seeded just 27th out of 38 players, Segarra pulled the rug from under eighth seed Stupak with a 46-move win of a Caro-Kann Defense in the first round Tuesday night and then eked out a 30-move draw of a Queen’s Pawn: London System against No. 6 Kovalev the morning after to move in contention.
Segarra later said Stupak was the second GM he beat after he also shocked Armenian GM Avetik Grigorian in this same tournament two years back.
“My preparation and a little bit of luck also helped me,” said the 38-year-old Segarra, who worked for RCBC as a full-time employee and also coaches the La Salle chess team in the UAAP, in Filipino.
IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia downed countryman Ali Branzuela to seize a share of the lead after the first round.
GM John Paul Gomez, the country’s highest ranked chesser here being the ninth seed, split drew with IM Emmanuel Salvador while reigning Philippine Open champion GM Joey Antonio was held to a standoff by untitled Manny Yu.
IM Ronald Bancod also agreed to a standoff with Indian IM Abhimanyu Puranik while IMs Paulo Bersamina and comebacking Ricardo de Guzman halved the point with Rodolfo Panopio, Jr. and WIM Bernadette Galas, respectively.
Segarra and Garcia were the bright spots to what had been a bleak day for the Phl campaign.
International Master Oliver Dimakiling lost to top seed GM Wang Hao of China; IM Haridas Pascua bowed to No. 2 GM Anton Demchenko of Russia; IM Chito Garma lost his way to Kovalev; Woman IM and newly-minted WGM Janelle Mae Frayna was brought down by No. 7 GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia.
Roel Abelgas got the boot from No. 11 IM Tran Tuan Minh of Vietnam; Rolando Andador fell to No. 14 GM Tigran Kotanjian of Armenia; and Emmanuel Emperado was outlasted by No. 17 GM Jha Sriram of India.
The tournament was officially ushered in by National Chess Federation of the Phl president Cong. Butch Pichay and secretary-general Cong. Bambol Tolentino along with board of directors Atty Ruel Canobas and Neri Colmenares in simple opening rites.
The event, which is being financed by the Phl Sports Commission under chairman Butch Ramirez, is being done to allow local players to get a chance to high caliber foreign woodpushers and acquire titles and rating points along the way.
The second and final leg is set December 12 to 19 at the same venue.