SUNGYEONG APARTE and Wesley Magbanua flashed top form and swept their first six matches to wrest the solo lead in their respective divisions in the 25th Shell National Youth Active Chess Championship Southern Mindanao leg at SM City Davao last Saturday.

The ninth-ranked Aparte stamped his class over Mae Ducusin, Joy Atupan, Benjie Brobo and Roger Olaso, Jr. then the General Santos City NHS mainstay stunned fourth seed Ellyz Bongato and no. 3 Kurt Placencia to move on top with six points in the junior division of the country’s longest talent-search sponsored by Pilipinas Shell.

Magbanua, on the other hand, lived up to his top billing in the kiddies section as the Jose Maria College standout trampled Renie Asilum, Pierce Villanueva, Mae Vitor, Nathalie Liscano, Joannah Olay and Charliemagne Arias to seize command in the three-division tournament serving as the fourth leg of the five-stage regional eliminations culminating in the grand finals next month.

Rafael dela Torre, Jr., another Jose Maria College ace, also took the solo lead in seniors play with 5.5 points as the seventh-ranked bet eased past Carla Frias, Jelord Villareal, Charles Fiel, John Diaz and Francis Guimalan while halving the point with Dhona Yngayo in the fifth round.

Top seed Irish Yngayo and No. 2 Aaron Caresosa were held by draws by Yeongsa Aparte and Kyle Tiamzon, respectively, in the third round but won their five other matches to stay in the hunt in the 13-16 division with 5.5 points.

Six others — Placencia, Bongato, Chris Ampon, Queen Peralta, Jerson Pantalita and Joerex Pugosa — posted five points heading to the last three rounds of the event where the top two plus the top female player will gain berths in the national finals on Oct. 7-8 at SM MOA in Pasay.

Ruth Atog scored 5.5 points while Jacob Aparte, Cliff Descartin, Ryan Rasay, Sam Umayan, Jayson Gener, James Catayas, Jeiela Julom, Gabriel Umayan and Arias scored five points apiece to remain in the race in the 7-12 age category of the event sanctioned by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.

Four players also kept their bid in the 17-20 age category with five points, including Guimalan, Daniel Borinaga, Andre Jorgio and James Sumatra with top seed Gino Asuncion and Renard Mamaril posting 4.5 points each.