Friday, July 06, 2007

By: Marlon Bernardino

US Master Anton Paolo del Mundo scored seven points in nine rounds to cop first place in Section 1 or the Under 2400 brackets of the just concluded World Open chess tournament last Thursday at the Valley Forge Radisson and Convention Plaza, King of Prussia in Pennsylvania, USA.

Del Mundo, former Ateneo stalwart and first Milo Checkmate student, registered a US Chess Federation performance rating of 2503 to lead four others tied with him for first place. He also has an unofficial estimated FIDE rating increase of 29.1 points, and will push his international rating to 2325 to establish himself as the next Philippines' FIDE Master. Paolo is currently No.48 in the July RP-Fide rating list with an Elo rating of 2296. According to FIDE handbook rules, a player who reached the 2300 Elo barrier is automatic gain an outright FIDE master title especially if he can play at least a minumum of 24 games.

Sharing first place with Del Mundo were all titled players, namely IM Mikhail Zlotnikov of Russia, FM Tegshsuren Enkbat of Mongolia, FM William Morrison, and FM Ilye Figler of the United States. Morrison was Del Mundo's colleague at University of Maryland Baltimore County, and they were consistent US national collegiate chess champions when Del Mundo studied in the university.

The winners shared the top prizes at about $6,000 each. Del Mundo is currently a software engineer, having graduated among the honors class in the computer science department.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr. was elated Del Mundo's big win in the 35th annual World Open Chess Championships which offers a total pot prize of US$400,000 in the event was organize by husband and wife Bill and Brenda Goichberg of the Continental Chess Association.

"Once again Filipino woodpusher proved that we can shine in chess and that's what Paolo (Del Mundo) did, iI hope that we should give chess more attention in our country so that we can produce more champions in abroad." said Pichay, also the deputy president of ASEAN Chess Federation.

The victory was unexpected for the multi-awarded Del Mundo, who has just recently come out from a two year hiatus from chess with the last tournament at the Minnesota HB Global competition.

At this tournament, he was also the only untitled winner among grandmasters from all over the world. As a tune-up for the World Open, he played at George Washington Open recently in Virginia, where his family stays.

It was a double victory of sorts for the Del Mundo family, when Paolo's dad and first chess teacher Herky del Mundo also scored seven points and tied for fourth place in the Section 5 tournament in the World Open. Del Mundo is a filmmaker in Ashburn Virginia, and also serves as a chess teacher in his spare time in Rockville, Maryland.

Paolo made a strong push at the end of the tournament with two straight victories against Craig Jones of North Carolina and the touted FM Robby Adamson, who was overcame with disbelief when he lost to the untitled player.

Meanwhile, lone Filipino GM entry Mark Paragua won the 10 minutes rapid Open section after accumulating 4.5 points after five games of play.

The country's No.3 GM earlier withdrew his participation in the main event of the Open section after losing to Israeli GM Leonid Yudasin in the fifth round and finished with 2 wins and 3 loses.

The World Open (June 28-July 4 King of Prussia, PA) wrapped up on a rainy Independence Day in a nine-way tie for first in the Open section which included GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Sandipan Sandipan, Leonid Yudasin, Evgeny Najer, Alexander Shabalov, Alexander Stripunsky, Victor Mikhalevski, Varuzhan Akobian and Julio Becerra, all of them scored identical 6.5 points apiece.

According to US Chess Federation website, Akobian won the title by beating Stripunsky in so-called Armageddon playoff or tie-breaker.

Other Filipino player who participated in this event were FM Rico Salimbagat, US Masters Alan Montalbo and Joel Banawa, Robert Lardizabal, Carlo del Mundo, William Aramil, Joseph Calapati, Allan Salgado and Dexter Pacheco.

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