Team PH on a roll in Asian online chess

Banjo Barcenilla Paulo Bersamina
GM Banjo Barcenilla and IM Paulo Bersamina (File photo)

The Philippines swept its last three round games including upset victories over top two seeds India and Kazakhstan for the No. 2 seeding in the knockout quarterfinals of the Asian Nations Online Chess Cup 2020 on Sunday.

The Filipinos slew the top-seeded Indians, who were the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad co-champions with the Russians, and then brought down the second-ranked Kazakhs via identical 2.5-1-5 scores in the seventh and eighth rounds.

The Agilas then capped a perfect day with a 3-1 thrashing of Kyrgyzstan in the ninth and final round to finish second with 14 match points.

The PH men’s team was actually tied with Mongolia with the same match points and first tiebreak scores (24-24) but the Nationals beat the Mongolians, 2.5-1.5, in the fifth round in the deciding tiebreak for the No. 2 seeding.

The PH team drew a familiar foe in No. 7 Kazakhstan on Friday in a format where each team will play two matches and one “Armageddon” blitz game in case of a tie.

The other quarterfinal pairings pit No. 1 Iran against No. 8 Singapore, No. 3 Mongolia versus No. 6 India, and No. 4 Australia against No. 5 India.

Against Kyrgyzstan, Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla and International Masters Paulo Bersamina and Haridas Pascua blasted IM Mikhail Markov, IM Asyl Abdyjapar and Ruslan Sezdebekov on boards two to four, while GM Mark Paragua blew another drawish game and succumbed to IM Semetey Tologontegin on top board.

Against Kazakhstan, Bersamina and Pascua came through with the decisive triumphs while Barcenilla salvaged a draw out of a losing position.

Versus India, it was Barcenilla who shone the brightest with a smashing triumph over GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly on board two while Paragua, Bersamina and Pascua fought to draws.

The Lady Agilas, meanwhile, seek to hang on to the lead as they battle the heavily favored Indians in the seventh round Monday.