Filipino International Masters (IM) Richard Bitoon and Oliver Barbosa recorded a win and a draw, respectively, to fortify their respective title bids in the 1st ASEAN Open Chess Championship in Singapore.

Bitoon defeated FIDE Master (FM) Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam while Barbosa battled Grandmaster (GM) and tournament third seed Susanto Mergaranto of Indonesia to a draw to rise to a share of second to sixth places in the tournament that serves as part of the annual 7th Singapore International Chess Festival.

Bitoon, a 2010 Khanty-Mansiysk Chess Olympiad veteran, subdued Hoa while playing the white pieces to raise his record to three points behind two wins and two draws. Barbosa also posted three points.

Joining Bitoon and Barbosa from second to sixth places are GM Dao Thien Hai and IM Nguyen Van Huy of Vietnam, and Megaranto. They are half a point behind top seed GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili of Georgia going into the fifth round.

Azmaiparashvili, who now plays for Singapore, outduelled GM John Paul Gomez of the Philippines to take the lead with 3.5 points on three wins and one draw.

Reggie Olay beat Agusta Laksana of Indonesia, while Nelson Mariano III drew with GM Jayson Gonzales to join four other players with 2.5 points.

GM Jayson Gonzales, who coaches UAAP champion Far Eastern University, has two points to lead a big group that includes Cebu’s Kim Steven Yap, Merben Roque, and Singapore-based Filipino Enrique Paciencia.

FEU standout Rulp Ylem Jose outclassed Zerle Cheng of Singapore to raise her score to two points in the women’s division.

However, three other Filipinas lost their respective matches.

Beverly Mendoza bowed to Nguyen Thi Hung of Vietnam, Jenny Rose Palomo lost to Jslin Tay of Singapore and Jedara Docena sucumbed to Hoang Thi Nuh of Vietnam. – JVP, KY, GMANews.TV