By U.S. News Agency / Asian

GM John Paul Gomez of the Philippines tried long and hard to salvage a win — or even a draw — but still lost to GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son of Vietnam in their ninth and final round showdown and fell to a tie for third place at the end of the 2011 HD Bank Cup Open chess championship at the Rex Hotel here Sunday.

Gomez, who swept his first five assignments, struggled with the disadvantageous black pieces and eventually lost the match to the higher-rated Vietnamese player in one of the keenly-watched final round matches on center stage.

The 24-year old Gomez, who earned his GM title during the 38th World Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany three year ago, finished the nine-round competition with 6.5 points on five wins, three draws and one loss.

The mechanical engineering graduate of La Salle also drew with GM Zhou Weiqi of China in the eighth and penultimate round late Saturday.

GM Yu Yangyi of China, who snapped Gomez’s five-game winning streak with a draw in the sixth round, and GM Wen Yang of China, who trounced FM Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam, shared first place with seven points apiece.

Yu, however, bagged the title by virtue of a higher tiebreak score.

With Gomez in third to seventh places with 6.5 points are top seed GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, Truong Son, Zhou Weiqi and neophyte Xie Deshun of China.

Le, the highest-rated player here with an ELO of 2664, halved the point with Yu in their top board encounter.

Zhao outclassed Cao Sang of Vietnam and Xie humbled IM Oliver Dimakiling of the Philippines to catch up with the front runners in the tough, 74-player tournament hosted by the Vietnam Chess Federation.

IM Oliver Barbosa demolished Wang Chen of China and GM Roland Salvador crushed GM Tu Hoan Thong of Vietnam to lead two other players in a tie for eighth to 11th places with six points.

Barbosa, best remembered for winning the ASEAN chess championship in Singapore late last month, blew his bid with a loss to Le in the eighth round.

Salvador, who became the country’s newest GM after winning a tournament in Italy also last year, defeated WGM Irene Kharisma Sukandar of Indonesia.

Dimakiling led a big group of players in a tie for 12th to 20th places with 5.5 points.

Three other Filipino campaigners — IM Richard Bitoon, IM Kim Steven Yap and unheralded Rodolfo Panopio — finished in a tie for 21st to 28th places with five points.

Bitoon, a member of the Philippine team in the World Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia last year, blew his bid for a higher finish when he lost back-to-back games to GM Wen Yang of China in the eighth round and to lower-rated Lu Shanglei of China in the final round.

Yap, a protégé of Cebu-based sports patron Boojie Lim of Rose Pharmacy, drew with Wang Jue of Chinain the eighth round and won over compatriot Merben Roque in the ninth round.

Panopio, on the other hand, defeated Uaychai Kongsee of Thailand and countryman Emmanuel Senador to finish in the middle of the standings.

FM Haridas Pascua wound up with 4.5 points, after a draw with Sukandar in the final round.

GM Darwin Laylo finished second-to-the-last in the 11-man Filipino delegation with only four points to show.

Laylo, seeded ninth with an ELO of 2516, dropped his last three assignments to FM Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam, IM Tu Hoang Thai of Vietnam and Li Harbin of China.

Only Senador fared worse with 3.5 points on three wins, one draw and five losses.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay congratulated the Filipinos for their respectable showing in the season-opening tournament, especially Gomez.

“Our players, especially John Paul, did well.Save for the last-round setback to Nguyen, he could have won the title and the top prize of US$ 6,000,” said Pichay, who supported the Filipinos’ campaign in Vietnam.