GRANDMASTER Darwin Laylo is back on top as the country’s top chess player after 17 years. — NATIONAL CHESS FEDERATION OF THE PHILIPPINES

AFTER a 17-year wait, Grandmaster (GM) Darwin Laylo is back on top as the country’s top chess player.

The 42-year-old Mr. Laylo recalled the old form that pushed him to the pedestal in 2004 and 2006 in ruling the National Chess Championships at the Malolos City Auditorium in Bulacan Monday night.

The Army man from Dasmariñas, Cavite split the point with International Master Daniel Quizon, the last winner of this meet two years ago in Lapu Lapu, Cebu, and finished with 6.5 points on four triumphs and five draws.

Mr. Laylo’s four victories, which came at the expense of Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna, WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego, IM Paulo Bersamina and GM Joey Antonio, happened in the early rounds that allowed him the luxury of drawing his last three assignments to seal the deal.

He took home P100,000 courtesy of Malolos City Mayor Christian Natividad for his feat.

“Big thanks to my family and the people who helped me to get back to the top,” said Mr. Laylo, who also cited the support of Army Special Service Center Col. John Oliver Gabun.

IMs Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Michael Concio, Jr. fought Frayna and Bersamina to draws to end up second and third and prizes worth P80,000 and P50,000, respectively.

Rounding out the top 10 were IM Paulo Bersamina, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna Frayna, Mark Jay Bacojo, IM Daniel Quizon, GM John Paul Gomez, GM Joey Antonio and WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego. — Joey Villar