HO CHI
MINH CITY, Vietnam, Jan. 5 (PNA) — Filipino players, led by
newly-minted GM Roland Salvador and newly-crowned ASEAN Chess champion
IM Oliver Barbosa made their presence felt at the start of the 2011 HD
Bank Cup Open Chess championship at the five-star Rex Hotel here
Tuesday.

Salvador,
who earned his GM title after winning the 11th Fermo-Porto San Giorgio
in Italy last year, made short work of FM Jirapak Pitirotjirathon of
Thailand, while Barbosa, who shared first place with GM Zurab
Azmaiparahsvili in the recent ASEAN championship, subdued Uaychai
Kongsee of Thailand to lead opening-day winners in this 74-player
tournament.

Six
other Filipino players — GM John Paul Gomez, GM Darwin Laylo, IM
Richard Bitoon, IM Oliver Dimakiling, IM Kim Steven Yap and FM Haridas
Pascua — also hurdled their respective opening-day assignments.

Gomez
whipped Tran Quoc Dung of Vietnam, Laylo crushed IM Mikhail Vasilyev of
Ukraine, Bitoon dumped Wang Jue of China, Dimakiling humbled compatriot
Rodolfo Panopio, Yap overwhelmed Nguyen Duc Viet of Vietnam and Pascua
demolished Adam Iskandar of Malaysia.

Another Filipino campaigner, Merbne Roque, battled to a draw with GG Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam.

Not as fortunate was IM Emmanuel Senador, who succumbed to Thong Tahi Hung of Vietnam.

Also
winning their respective matches were top seed GM Le Quang Liem of
Vietnam, who whipped IM Daniel Howard Fernandez of Singapore; third seed
GM Yu Yangyi of China, who outclassed Vo Thanh Nimh of Vietnam; fourth
seed GM Zhao Jun of China, who pulverized Li Hanbin of China; and fifth
seed GM Zhou Weiqi of China, who smothered Lu Yijie of China.

Second seed GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son of Vietnam settled for a draw with compatriot WIM Pham Le Thao.

“This
is a good start for our players. I hope they can sustain their
momentum,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP)
president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay.

At stake in the tournament sponsored by HD Bank are
US$ 25,000, with the champion pocketing the lion’s share of US$ 6,000.

The opening ceremony was held early Tuesday. (PNA)
scs/LOR/pr