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Guirhem, Pason pace Shell chess

Fifth seed Fiona Guirhem took charge in the juniors division while No. 2 Allan Pason upended top seed Felix Balbona in the sixth round to wrest control in seniors play halfway through the 25th Shell National Youth Active Chess Championship Visayas leg at SM City Cebu last Saturday.

Top seed Jerish Velarde and No. 20 Jeraian Cagang, on the other hand, posted 5.5 points each to share the lead in the kiddies side of the fifth and final regional eliminations of the country’s longest talent-search sponsored by Pilipinas Shell.

Guirhem, a mainstay of Central Phl U, toppled Braven Maralil, Adelyn Bensi and Marie Valencia, drew with Cyril Telesforo then trampled Remegio Galenzoga III and Jeremy Tanudra to set the pace in the 13-16 age bracket with 5.5 points.

But eight others stood just half-a-point behind, including top seed Chris Pondoyo, Manilyn Cabungcag, Jave Peteros, Alphecca Gonzales, Jane Quinanola, Reishi Polan, Telesforo and Tanudra, guaranteeing a fierce battle in the last three rounds of the two-day tournament.

Earlier, Sankie Simbulan, Social Investment manager of Shell Companies in the Philippines, and Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. Retail Territory manager Greg Moratin made the ceremonial moves, kicking off the two-day tournament where the top two plus the top female players in each division will advance to the national finals set Oct. 7-8 at SM Mall of Asia.

Others who graced the event were tournament director Alex Dinoy, FIDE Arbiter Odilon Badilles, community coordinator Chiqui Guison and External Relations’ Janice Manson.

Pason, meanwhile, repulsed Balbona in the sixth round to move on top of the 17-20 division with perfect six points, a full-point ahead of Jethro Esplanada, Adrian Basilgo, Gerard Gelera, Marc Villarojo, Michael Canizares, Joshua Panes, Jethro Caparino, Sheila Mae Diloy and Balbona.