VIETNAM — 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 in the 2011 HD Bank Cup Open Chess Championship at the Rex Hotel here Sunday.

Needing a win to clinch the crown, Gomez lost his final-round assignment and fell into a tie for third to seventh places.

Gomez, who swept his first five assignments, struggled with the disadvantageous black pieces and 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 years 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 had drawn 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.

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 untitled ie 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 International Master Oliver Dimakiling of the Philippines to catch up with the frontrunners 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, who is 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 last year, defeated Woman’s GM Irene Kharisma Sukandar of Indonesia. – KY, RCJ, GMANews.TV