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Jota back on track

Jonathan Jota put himself back in an ideal position on Saturday as he regained a share of the lead halfway through the 2017 Battle of Grandmasters National Chess Championships at the City Club of Alphaland Makati Place.

After relinquishing the top spot last Friday when defending champion Joey Antonio stole the spotlight by withdrawing due to severe sinusitis, the 20-year-old Jota (2101) rediscovered his form in Round 5 by defeating fellow untitled John Marvin Miciano (2212) in 47 moves behind a Sicilian defense.

The proud Lyceum-Manila student then settled for a split point against youngster Michael Concio Jr. (1688) in the sixth round, raising his point total to 4.5 points while boosting his title bid in the 11-round, eight-day tourney which serves as the country’s main qualifiers for next year’s Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.

International Masters IM Haridas Pascua (2427) and Chito Garma (2325) found themselves tied up anew with Jota after coming up with a full point each in the last two rounds.

Pascua settled for a draw against top seed GM John Paul Gomez (2463) in Round 5 and had the same decision against IM Paulo Bersamina (2397) in Round 6.

Garma earned a half-point against Concio Jr. in the fifth round and had the same against Gomez in Round 6 after 31 moves using a French Defense.

Gomez and Bersamina stayed in the hunt with similar 4.0 points while GM Rogelio Barcenilla Jr. (2457) and untitled Jeth Romy Morado (2132) were still within striking distance with 3.0 markers. (Jerome Lagunzad)