DANIEL Quizon slowed down his pace a bit and agreed to a 23-move draw with fellow International Master (IM) Ricky de Guzman to retain his top post after eight rounds of the 2021 Philippine National Chess Championships at the Solea Hotel and Resort in Mactan, Cebu on Monday.

Knowing the title is within his grasp, the 17-year-old Mr. Quizon chose a quieter defense and veered away from the riskier Benko Gambit and successfully steered the game into a draw.

It kept Mr. Quizon at the helm with seven points, or 1.5 points atop a resurgent IM Ronald Dableo, who drew with IM Jem Garcia in 31 moves of a King’s Indian Attack.

Mr. Dableo, who has turned up the heat in the last four rounds by scoring 3.5 points in that stretch after drawing his first four outings, has remained the biggest threat to Mr. Quizon’s title bid as the two will only get to play each other in the 11th and final round today.

It also pushed Mr. Quizon closer to emerging the country’s national champion and claiming the top prize worth P80,000 and a slot to the Hanoi Southeast Asian Games and 2023 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Bangkok and Chonburi, Thailand.

Grandmaster (GM) Darwin Laylo posted the lone victory of the round at the expense of Allan Pason in 36 moves of another Queen’s Gambit to seize a share of third with Mr. De Guzman with five points each in this meet sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chaired by William Ramirez, JEEP, CCLEX, Metro Pacific Tollways, Alin Cargo, PCSO and RiChess Masters.

The rest of the games here, which was also being backed by POC President Abraham Tolentino, NCFP President Prospero Pichay, Jr., Chess Movement, Inc. chair Ariel Potot, Atty. Roel Canobas and PCSO general manager Royina Garma, resulted to draws courtesy of GM Joey Antonio and IM Joel Pimentel, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and IM Michael Concio, Jr., and IM Paulo Bersamina and IM John Marvin Miciano. — Joey Villar