PH’s Rom, Bernardo fight back to join Severino in world chess contention

Lynde Salgados
PH’s Rom, Bernardo fight back to join Severino in world chess contention

IN THE RUNNING. Youthful tactician Darry Bernardo racks up two straight wins to stay in title contention.


Their top bets may have faltered but the other members of the Philippine Paralympic chess team come up big in the fifth round of the world online chess tourney

Two consecutive draws slowed down Filipino IPCA world chess champion Sander Severino as well as Arena Grandmaster Henry Roger Lopez, who also squandered a winning line to pick his third draw in five matches. 

But the rest of the five-man Philippine Paralympic team came up big in the fifth round of the 4th World Chess Championship for People with  Disabilities on Tuesday night, November 9 via Tornelo online format.

The 13th and 26th seeds National Masters Jasper Rom and Darry Bernardo and the lower-ranked blind master Rodolfo Sarmiento all won their respective board matches in style.

NM Rom demonstrated the power of Bishop pair in the middlegame to gain an enemy pawn. He then nurtured his uncontested passed pawn on f-file that reached the seventh rank en route to the resignation of Mario Pallerols Duran of Cuba after 43 moves in Queen’s Pawn Opening of the less-explored  Zukertort variation.

Buti parang bumalik tira ko. Kahapon flat masyado di gumana calculation ko (Good that I’m back playing well again. Yesterday was my worse in calculating moves),” said Rom, who also had the advantageous two bishops in his midgame tussle with Argentinian Leonel Amato in the fourth round when he floundered against time pressure.

Rom’s victory now put him in the 23-man group of Fide Master Severino – the 2020 International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA) champion – as well as youthful tactician Bernardo with 4 points to show and a share of 10th to 32 places in the overall individual standing.

AGM Lopez, who’s still reeling from a “won game” that ended in a truce following a slight miscue, landed in a big bunch of 3.5 pointers.

In his back-to-back triumphs after a disastrous second round, the white-wielding Bernardo had surprisingly diverted from his usual aggressive play. He chose to adopt a solid and positional strategy with the King’s Indian defense to beat the time-hobbled Esteban Jacome of Ecuador in 50 moves.

Black resigned with nothing to do against white’s queening c-pawn.

“It’s a prompt decision when my opponent did not fall early in my preparation against the KIA’s stonewall formation,” Bernardo said on his change of style.

Losing thrice, meanwhile, is not an option for NM Sarmiento who pummeled Turkish foe Erhan Ilgin with black in 52 squeaker of the French defense to improve at 3-2 win-loss slate.

“We have two favorable matches that ended in a draw. Sander was already a piece up but missed the Nh5 continuation instead of the weak Rf8 on move 32 that was greeted with many tactical threats,” the Filipinos’ coach, NM James Infiesto, told Rappler of the board 6 duel that was drawn after a marathon 77 pushes of the Catalan opening. 

“In fact, it was his Russian counterpart who was winning after that, but also overlooked the right continuation.”

Russia’s Dmitrij Danilchenko had still enough time on his clock when he missed a simple push-pawn on the seventh-rank, sacrificing a rook for the winning a7-to-queen promotion.

“Yes, I’m already in the receiving end of the rook versus two knights squabble because he has a passed pawn on a-file. But I could not also sleep at the thought of my  own early advantage dissipate,” Severino told Rappler.

“I’m also winning when I blundered,” said Lopez, who was still a pawn up but in risky situation when he agreed to split the points with Soundarya Kumar Pradhan of India after 35 moves of the complicated Benoni.

The intense heat of rivalry midway of the nine-round Swiss system tourney that assembled 246 online chess combatants around the world, now left only three players at the top with perfect 5 points in Russian FMs Babarykin Stanislav and Lipirin Ilia and the untitled Otero Munelo Harlen Jose of Venezuela. –