Blind master Sarmiento highlights PH Para’s 4-1 steamrolling in round 2

Lynde Salgados
Blind master Sarmiento highlights PH Para’s 4-1 steamrolling in round 2

IMPRESSIVE. The Philippine Paralympic chess team sustains its hot start.

Philippine Paralympic Team

The five-man Philippine Paralympic team delivers another solid showing in the online world chess tournament

Visually-impaired National Master Rodolfo Sarmiento continues to dazzle as the five-man Philippine Paralympic chess team produced another spectacular 4-1 win-loss record on Day 2 action of the 4th World Championship for People with Disabilities on Saturday, November, 6 via Tornelo online format.

In his second straight victory, the completely blind Sarmiento from Tagaytay City overwhelmed Kumar A. Naveen of India who is by far superior to him in Elo ratings at 2035 to 1546 difference.

But handling the white pieces in Colle System of the opposite Fianchetto formation tussle, Sarmiento proved to have the better understanding in positional play as he gained space advantage in queenside maneuver that led to Naveen’s submission in 40 moves after being a piece down and staring on an uncontested march of isolated passed pawn on c5.

“Given my condition now, I’m so honored to be able to participate in the world championship tournament. I’m lucky because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” the former promising cager Sarmiento, whose eye retina snapped during his high school days, told Rappler.

Fide Master Sander Severino, the reigning International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) world champion from Silay City, Negros Occidental, lived up to his fifth-seed billing as he took his Nimzo Indian match with the lower-ranked Karla Marrero Infante of Cuba to a favorable endgame and his second win in 50 moves.

As Panabo, Davao del Norte pride NM Henry Roger Lopez provided the first win of the night after starting with a draw, the 13th-seed National Master Jasper Rom from Danao, Cebu City rolled to his second triumph in breathtaking fashion on the white side of the board.

In a seemingly doubled-edge duel of the Sicilian Grand Prix Attack, Rom faced a midgame intricacy where he’s been time-pressured with only  3 minutes and 4 seconds left on his clock to the Polander Zuzanna Lukasik’s 5:48.

But accurate deployment of Rom’s heavy pieces to the Polander’s vulnerable Kingside fortress had paved the way to resignation in 44 squeakers with pending mate in one finish awaiting.

Paired against the unrated Ming Wang of China, the white-wielding Lopez could not be denied as he delivered a checkmate with the Knight and Queen on move 43 of the Queen’s Gambit to improve at 1.5 points.

Left as the Filipinos’ lone casualty is the young tactician from Angeles City, Pampanga, NM Darry Bernardo.

Handling black, Bernardo countered e4 of Malaysia’s Pin Xie Loo with the solid as stolid Carrokan defense. But few moves later, Bernardo unveiled his real intention of turning the positional opening into a wild complicated battle of wits and nerves.

As early as move 15, he allowed the Malaysian to ruin the black King’s safety with Rxa7 in exchange to an unclear counterplay in the center. He got punished instead and resigned after only 33 moves.

“But that’s his trademark. He really loves the intricacies win or lose,” said Philippine Para team coach and trainer James Infiesto of Bernardo, who drops at 1-1.

The top-seeded Polish Grandmaster Marcin Tazbir (2508) remains perfect at 2-0, even as the second-seed International Master Igor Yarmonov was held to a draw by fellow Ukrainian Vladyslav Pokotaiev.

The nine-round Swiss tournament with 45 minutes + 30 seconds increment per move is an individual competition with an additional team ranking. –