Philippines, 11 Dec 2018
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Antonio stays on top, draws vs Zuniga in World Senior chess tiff

Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Rogelio "Joey" Antonio Jr. (2431) drew with top seed Peruvian GM Julio Granda Zuniga (2650) in 56 moves of Sicilian defense to stay on top with five others after sixth rounds of the on-going 27th World Senior Chess Championship 2017 (50+ and 65+ Open-men and women) in Acqui Terme, Italy Monday.

The many-time Philippine Open champion Antonio, seeded sixth here, used his petline Alapin with the white pieces tried to ride the momentum of a pair of impressive victories but failed to squeeze out a victory and settled for a draw against Zuniga, a four-time American continental champion.

They were joined at 5.0 points by No. 3 GM Zurab Sturua of Georgia (2536), No.5 GM Eric Prie of France (2482), No.10 IM Alexander Reprintsev of Ukraine (2361) and No.13 IM Oliver Brendel of Germany (2334) in the 50-years-old category in as many rounds.

Sturua dismantled Indian IM Devaki V Prasad of India (Elo 2290) in 56 moves of King's Indian defense, Prie outclassed No.9 GM Giorgi Bagaturov of Georgia (2399) in 71 moves of English Opening, Reprintsev waylaid No. 4 FM Klaus Bischoff of Germany (2513) in 46 moves of Reti Opening and Brendel subdued No.8 IM Evgenij Kalegin of Russia (2426) in 71 moves of another English skirmish.

According to executive chess champion Jaime "Jim" Osit Santos, close confidante of Antonio who watched the game live through Internet, when the smoke is cleared, Antonio had a rook and three pawns, while Zuniga had a rook and four pawns. Antonio's passed pawn in the c7 square couldn’t do anything but forced Zuniga into a draw.

Antonio's good showing in the 11 Round swiss-system tournament was because of his hard work especially in Physical conditioning.

"Nag prepare ako ng program sa kanya (GM Rogelio "Joey" Antonio Jr.) months before the tournament at ginawa namin ito sa Billy James Celebrity Gym sa Timog Avenue, Quezon City. May designed program kasi ako for chess players. Malaking bagay kasi para sa endurance, stamina and alertness. Nagustuhan naman niya ito at patuloy na ginawa. Mahalaga ito for lalo na sa tournament players," said Police Superintendent Santos, a member of Philippine National Police Chess Team, strength and physical conditioning mentor of Antonio.

In Tuesday's Seventh round, Zuniga will face Brendel on Board 1, Reprintsev goes up against Sturua on Board 2 and Prie versus Antonio on Board 3.

Another Filipino entry Asia's First Grandmaster Eugene Torre (2465) defeated No. 26 Matthias Kierzek of Germany (2252) in 54 moves of Nimzo-Indian defense.

The win allowed Torre to gain a share of 7th place with 4.5 points in the 65-years-old and above category.

Also with 4.5 points is No. 27 FM Boris Gutkin of Israel (2250), Torre's next opponent, No. 8 GM Evgeni Vasiukov of Russia (2404), No.9 GM Lothar Vogt of Germany (2398), No. 11 GM Davorin Komljenovic of Croatia (2379), No.15 GM Nikolai Pushkov of Russia , No.14 IM Jan Rooze of Belgium (2314), No.25 IM Janez Barle of Slovakia (2261), No.28 Boris Malisov of Israel (2240), No.33 Marat Primbetov of kazahkstan (2222) and No.47 Robert Beltz of Germany (2158).

Tournament favorite GM Anatoly Vaisser of France (2503) crushed No. 17 IM Nigel Povah of England (2295) in 47 moves of London System Opening to create a six-way tie for first place with No. 5 GM Yuri S Balashov of Russia (2437), No.6 GM Vladimir Okhotnik of France (2434), No.7 GM Vlastimil Jansa of Czech Republic (2425), No. 27 IM Arkady Shevelev of Israel (2280) and No.29 FM Christian Hess of Germany (2336).

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Marlon Bernardino.

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