Monday, March 10, 2008

 
Former university standout rules 2nd FCPL Rapid Chess
Jobannie C. Tabada

UAE - Gilbert Taopa ended a year-long title draught after ruling Friday (March 7, 2008) the 2nd FCPL Active Chess Tournament 2008 at the Reef Mall in Deira, Dubai.

Taopa, a former Technological Institute of the Philippines standout, finished the seven-round Swiss event with six points on five wins and two draws, half a point ahead of solo second placer and Taopa's final-round opponent Arnel Matildo, who rebounded from a second-round setback to ultimately earn a crack at the championship.


Matildo's title hopes, however, never really took off against the white-wielding Taopa, who despite needing just a draw to secure at least a tie for first place was pushing hard for a win. The eventual champion, though, failed to make the most out of his substantial space advantage and Matildo's cramped middlegame set-up to settle for a draw, as Matildo uncorked timely offensives in the queenside and managed to trade off major and minor pieces to steer the encounter to a theoretically drawn endgame with a rook for each side and bishops of opposite color.

Defending champion Nihuzzar Ismael of India settled for third place after emerging with the best tiebreak score among four players who finished with five points each. Nihuzzar capitalized on an endgame blunder by Alexious Valerio to pick up his fifth point in the seventh round.

At fourth was Jobannie Tabada, who suffered a monumental breakdown in the final two rounds after picking up five straight victories. Tabada lost to Taopa in the sixth in a Queen's Pawn Opening that transposed to the Classical System of the French Defense, committing a tragic elementary blunder when he made a greedy pawn grab on h4 with his queen that left a gaping hole on d6. Taopa's knight immediately occupied the poorly defended square with devastating effect, forcing Tabada to resign five moves later.

At fifth was British player Paul Dargan, who extended Tabada's anguish in the final-round, denying the Filipino a chance to tie for first place when he punished Tabada's uninspired opening and middle game play in their Sicilian Defense encounter. Rounding out the five pointers was 28th-seeded Florencio Superales, who pulled off the biggest surprise in the tournament when he upset the off-form top-seed Fide Master Antonio Molina Sr. in the final round, accentuating his victory with a knight sacrifice that set up a mating attack with the major pieces.

The prevented Molina from moving up to a tie for second and dropped him to seventh in the final standings with 4.5 points. The rest of the top 10 finishers were Rey Joy Bartolay, Marcelo Payoket and Pakistan's Ali Sibt, who all likewise finished with 4.5 points.

Asian Chess Federation's Toti Abundo, who is also the Fide Ratings Administrator, attended the final day of the two-weekend event, which offered over USD300 in prizes. The event, which was supported by Reef Mall, was organized by the Filipino Chess Players League - UAE with Joey Tiberio acting as tournament director. Fide Arbiter Marz Marcial and Willy Laceste served as arbiter and assistant arbiter, respectively.

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TOURNAMENT PHOTO

















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