Filipino GM tops KL chess tourney

Posted at 09/12/2011 7:25 AM | Updated as of 09/12/2011 10:50 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines newest chess grand master (GM) Oliver Barbosa won the overall title in the DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Invitational Masters at the Swiss Garden Hotel and Residences in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last Saturday.

The native of Taytay, Rizal finished with 7.0 points to bag the overall title and the 4,000 RM prize that goes with it.

Barbosa, a former University of the Philippines player, achieved his 3rd and final grand master norm in the 8th round.

He settled for a truce with former Asian junior champion and Vietnamese GM Nguyen Anh Dung in the 9th and final round.

“Once again our flag has been raised in this foreign land,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr.

Another Filipino player, Richard Bitoon of Medellin, Cebu, earned his 3rd and final GM norm in the 9th round by defeating GM Tahir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan.

Bitoon and international master (IM) Jahongir Vakhidov finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

“Nagpapasalamt kami ni Oliver sa tulong ni NCFP chairman Pichay at ni Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Ricardo Garcia sa kampanya namin dito sa KL chess,” said Bitoon.

According to Pichay, Barbosa and Bitoon’s GM titles will be discussed in the next FIDE congress.

They will join the elite circle of Filipino GMs, including Eugene Torre, Rogelio “Joey” Antonio Jr., Buenaventura “Bong” Villamayor, Nelson Mariano II, Mark Paragua, Wesley So, Darwin Laylo, Jayson Gonzales, John Paul Gomez, Joseph Sanchez, Roland Salvador, Rogelio "Banjo" Barcenilla Jr., Julio Catalino Sadorra and the late Rosendo Balinas Jr. -- by Marlon Bernardino