By U.S. News Agency / Asian

Former national junior champion IM Oliver Barbosa kept the Philippine flag flying by drawing with top seed GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili of Singapore in the seventh round of the 2010 ASEAN Open Chess championships at the Stanfield Residences along Vernon Road here Wednesday.

Barbosa, who rose to prominence by winning both the national junior championship and national under-18 crown in 2004, also drew with IM Nguyen Van Huy of Vietnam in the fifth round and won over compatriot Reggie Olay in the sixth round to stay within striking distance with five points on three wins and four draws.

The 24-year-old campaigner from Pasig City remained only half a point behind Azmaiparashvili in this prestigious, 32-player tournament held as part of the annual Singapore International Chess Festival.

Azmaiparashvili, a highly-rated Georgian player who now plays for Singapore, halved the point with GM Susanto Megaranto of Indonesia in the fifth round before beating erstwhile Filipino frontrunner IM Richard Bitoon the following round.

Six players, led by GM John Paul Gomez and Cebu sensation IM Kim Steven Yap, also stayed in contention with 4.5 points out of a possible seven.

Gomez, seeded fourth with an ELO of 2522, followed up back-to-back draws with compatriot Nelson Mariano III and IM Nguyen Van Huy with a victory over FM Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam.

Yap, a protégée of Cebu businessman-sportsman Boojie Lim, held fifth seed GM Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam to a fighting draw in the seventh round. He earlier won over Sean Cuhendi of Indonesia and countryman Merben Roque in the fifth and sixth rounds.

Also with 4.5 points are Bitoon, who sandwiched the loss to Azmaiparashvili with a draw over Dao and a win over Mariano; and Megaranto, who settled for draws with Azmaiparashvili, Dao and Nguyen in his last three assignments.

Olay and Singapore-based Filipino IM Enrique Paciencia led three other players with four points.

GM Jayson Gonzales whipped Andika Pityra of Indonesia and drew with FM Timothy Chan of Singapore to lead a big group of players with 3.5 points.

In the women’s division, Far Eastern University standout Rulp Ylem Jose drew with Liu Yang of Singapore and Citra Dewi of Indonesia to remain in a tie for 10th to 16th places with three points.

Jose is joined by fellow Filipina campaigners Jedara Docena and Beverly Mendoza.

In the accompanying Singapore Open, FEU champion Sheider Nebato crushed fifth seed Shen Siyuan of China to forge a two-way tie for second to third places with 5.5 points.

Nebato, who swept his first four assignments, is one and a half points behind top seed GM Wen Yang, who remained unbeaten in seven games.

GM Buenaventura “Bong” Vilamayor drew with Myo Naing of Maynmar and Christopher Castellano beat WFM Patil Metali of India to join a big group of players with five points.

Three other Filipino campaigners — Ritchie Evangelista, Kevin Mirano and Paulo Bersamina — remained within the lower half of the 74-player field with 4.5 points.

Lovelyn Medina has 3.5 points while Ronna Reigner Senora has 2.5 points.

In the age-group categories, Janelle Mae Frayna demolished Khei Tar Kang of Malaysia to stay in contention with 5.5 points on five wins, one draw and one loss.

Frayna, one of several talented FEU players in the tournament, lost to Hisham Nur Nabila of Malaysia in the fifth round and drew with Monisha Raja of Singapore the following round.

In the boys’ 14 under, Paul Robert Evangelista dumped Rod Attakaatsur of Indonesia and compatriot Vince Angelo Medina to vault into solo second place with six points.

Evangelista, also of FEU, is a full point behind Le Tuan Minh of Vietnam.

Jerad Docena humbled Huang Jie and Calvin Ong of Singapore to raise his record to five points.

Dominque Laghula outplayed Sentosa Yuliana of Indonesia and Shawn Yong of Singapore and drew with Nguyen Van Hai of Vietnam to move into a tie for third and fourth places with five points.

The Filipinos’ campaign in the week-long championships is supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), headed by president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay and secretary-general and Tagaytay City Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.