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GM Wesley So on course for top junior honors

PNS- Grandmaster Wesley So agreed to another draw, this time against GM Yuriy Ajrapet­jan of Ukraine, to remain in a tie for 17th to 36th places after the eighth round of the Aeroflot Chess Festival 2009 at the Hotel Gamma-Delta in Moscow. So, who is hoping to barge into the Top 20 in this prestigious, 78- player tournament, tried to initiate complications despite playing the disadvantageous black pieces but eventually settled for a draw by repetition of moves in 35 moves. The 15-year-old Filipino cham­pion has a rook, bishop and five pawns against Ajrapetjan’s rook, bishop and four pawns when the game was agreed drawn. Although ahead by one pawn, So repeated his rook move three times with a check on the Ukrai­nian player’s king mainly due to white’s passed pawn on the h-file.

The draw left the high school student of St. Francis College (Bacoor) with only 4.5 points with three wins, three draws and two losses. Overall, So is in 24th place, well within striking distance of a possible Top 20 finish. He is also in good position to clinch top honor as the best ju­nior player with 4.5 points, the same record of GM Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan. The top junior player will re­ceive 2,500 Euro. GM Arman Pashikian of Arme­nia toppled erstwhile solo leader Gm Igor Kurnosov of Russia to grab the solo lead with six points, half a point ahead of second seed GM Etienne Bacrot of France and seven other players with only one round left.

Bacrot, seeded second with an ELO of 2722, outclassed GM Evgeny Tomashevsky of Russia to improve his total to 5.5 points. Joining Bacrot are GMs Alex­ander Moiseenko of Ukraine, Bor­ki Predojevic of Bosnia, Vladimir Potkin of Russia, Jianchao Zhou of China, Sergey Zhilgalko of Be­larus, Weiqi Zhou of China and Kurnosov. In the ninth and final round, So will go for the all-important win against GM Zaven Andriasian of Armenia.  Andriasdian (ELO 2564) pulled the rug form under GM Li Chao of China in the eighth round.

In Divison A-2, IM Richard Bi­toon overwhelmed IM Nikolay Ko­novalov of Russia to climb into a share of 22nd to 38 th places with 4.5 points. Bitoon’s final-round opponent is GM Alexander Potapov (ELO 2456) of Russia. In Division B, Haridas Pascua capped his campaign with a win over WGM Baira Kovanova. Pas­cua’s 9-round aggregate of 6 points landed him in 15th place overall, out of 80 partici­pants. The other RP bet, Jan Em­manuel Garcia, split the point with Danila Belousov of Rus­sia in his final outing to tally 5 points and place 24 th overall