GM JP Gomez loses grip of Zonal 3.3 lead

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FILIPINO Grandmaster (GM)John Paul Gomez fought to a draw with untitled Mongolian Khuyagtsogt Itgelt that dealt a blow to his World Cup bid after seven rounds of the Eastern Asia Chess Championships FIDE Zone 3.3 Open in Mongolia Saturday night.

After zooming to the lead and clinging into it after five rounds, the 32-year-old Gomez lost grip after losing to fourth seed Mongolian International Master Sumiya Bilguun in the sixth round Friday and then being held to a standoff by the lower-ranked Itgelt a day after.

Entering the final two rounds, the many-time Olympiad veteran slipped to a share of seventh spot with Itgelt, Bilguun and another local bet FIDE Master Ganzorig Amartuuvshin with 4.5 points.

Vietnamese IM Nguyen Van Huy turned back Bilguun to claim the solo lead with six points in this nine-round tournament staking two spots to the Chess World Cup 2019 slated Sept. 9 to Oct. 2 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Half a point behind Gomez with four points each and still clinging to their waning World Cup hope were countrymen IMs Paulo Bersamina and John Marvin Miciano, who downed FM Byambasuren Garidmagnai and Nyamsuren Batbold of Mongolia, respectively.

The two were tackling Mongolians FM Tsedvee Lkhagvasuren and IM Dambasuren Batsuren in the seventh round at press time.

In women’s play, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza smashed WGM Battsooj Bayarmaa and Enkhsaikhan Udval of Mongolia to breathe life to their dying World Cup campaign.

The wins pushed Frayna and Mendoza in a five-player tie at 12th place with four points apiece and the two are eyeing nothing less than a win over IM Irine Kharisma Sukandar of Indonesia and WIM Pham Bich Ngoc of Vietnam in the eighth round that would keep them in the hunt.

The Filipinos campaign were being bankrolled by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines and the Philippines Sports Commission.