Partially blind Bernardo sparkles with 3 straight wins

Lynde Salgados
Partially blind Bernardo sparkles with 3 straight wins

RISING. PH Para team's youngest member Darry Bernardo, 19, is just a full point away from unbeaten tournament leader FM Stanislav Babarykin of Russia.


Pulling off a surprise, teen bet Darry Bernardo emerges as the best performing Filipino para chesser going into the last three rounds of the world online chess tourney

Partially blind tactician Darry Bernardo, the youngest of the five-man Philippine Paralympic team at 19, made a surprise when he went ahead of his more illustrious compatriots after the sixth round of the 4th World Chess Championship for People with Disabilities on Wednesday night, November 10 via Tornelo online platform.

With his top board mentors Fide Master Sander Severino and Jasper Rom crashing down on boards  5 and 8, the tactically gifted Bernardo went all out with black in his board 12 battle with Ejas Husain of Bangladesh to come up with his third straight victory after only 25 moves of the unusual Nimzowitsch Defense.

Now Bernardo, who relies on thick glasses with a 900-plus grade on his left eye and 600-plus grade on his right, had suddenly the highest output among the Filipinos with a 5-1 win-loss slate going into the last three rounds of the prestigious Fide-sanctioned, nine-round Swiss system tourney.

The fifth-seed and reigning International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) champion Severino yielded to unrated Mongolian Ganbat Dashtseren after 62 moves of the English Opening-Botvinnik Variation, while the 13th-seed Rom fell in a 42-move duel with Macedonia’s Zarko Selkovski of the double-edge Sicilian Grand Prix Attack.

Their heartbreaking defeats apparently relegated Severino and Rom deep down in a big bunch of 4 pointers.

Sana ito na po ang time ko (I hope that this will be my time to shine),” said Bernardo, who never gave Husain the breathing space.

The resurgent Bernardo, who exercised cautious play in his fifth-round conquest of Esteban Jacome of Ecuador, seized the initiative on move 21 after planting his pawn-supported Queen on f3 that bothered Husain no end, leading to his early submission.

Arena Grandmaster Henry Roger Lopez, unbeaten but slowed down by three draws, also pounced on Luis Anibal Rodriguez Pirela of Venezuela in 45 moves of the Dutch Defense to also remain in contention at 4.5 points.

All out na aron makaapas (Now it’s time to go all the way in order to catch up with the tournament leaders),” Lopez told Rappler.

The completely blind Rodolfo Sarmiento (1546) fought tooth and nail against another higher-rated foe Georges Vasquez (1864) of France before he resigned after 52 moves of another Colle System encounter.

Both Severino and Rom started well in the opening phase on the white side of the board, pressing the attack only to be time-hobbled when their respective matches turned complicated in the middlegame.

“It’s hard when you have the slight advantage because it will motivate you to go all out for the win. When he (Dashtseren) managed to equalize, I still tried to push my luck instead of settling for an easy draw,” Severino told Rappler.

In an all-Russian, all-FM tussle on board one, the higher-ranking Stanislav Babarykin (2364) prevailed over Ilia Lipilin (2174) after 41 squeaker of the French Defense.

Babarykin thus took the solo lead with a pristine 6-0 record in the overall individual standing after the other unbeaten Otero Munelo Harlen Jose (2125) of Venezuela was held to a draw by Grandmaster Tazbir Marcin (2508) of Poland.

Occupying second to sixth at 5.5 points are Dashtseren, FM Molenda Marcin of Poland, Jose, FM Sargissan Sargis of Armenia, and FM Larduet Despaigne Carlos of Cuba.

Now the Philippines’ biggest hope for the individual crown, Bernardo joined the 12-man 5-pointers led by the top-seeded Polish GM Marcin, sharing seventh to 18th spots. –