Tournament Favourites take top honours in 2nd Singapore Masters Blitz Invitational 2015
Just 3 months after Singapore's best funded and strongest chess tournament (in recent years) 1st Singapore Masters Blitz Invitational had ended, Olimpiu Urcan and Mark Tan went one better by upping the prize fund to about $2000 for the 2nd Singapore Masters Blitz Invitational. Apart from having 3 IMs participating like in the first edition, the event also attracted Filipino GM Bong Villamayor. In that very short span of time between the events, youngsters William Woong, Lee Qing Aun and Tin Jingyao has already secured their CM, FM and IM titles respectively and pundits watched with interest to see how these two will fare against the more experienced masters. Indonesian IM Irene Sukandar also flew in to Singapore with her sister Djajeng (who played and won a training rapid match against Singapore Poly's No 1 Melvin Chin) for the event.
Although I had scored decently in the 1st edition with a TPR of 2326 and 6/11, I agreed immediately when Olimpiu, after considering various options, asked me to be the tournament arbiter for the 2nd edition. Apart from knowing almost all the participants personally (which will greatly facilitate matters), I am also proud to be involved in the running of this event, which was held in the spacious, air-conditioned Anchorage condo function room.
On to the event! The Asean U20 champion, IM Tin Jingyao and NM Roberto Suelo (the tournament arbiter for the 1st edition) swept into the lead with 3/3, while the ELO favourites GM Villamayor and IM Goh Wei Ming fell off the pace. Bong was held to a solid draw by Russian FM Andrey Terekhov, who refused to give the GM an inch in their Round 1 game.
(Game commentary and analysis courtesy of FM Andrey Terekhov)
Wei Ming was handed a loss in Round 2 when he inexplicably allowed FM Daniel Chan to pin his queen with a rook in a totally even position. Jingyao extended his lead by beating Roberto Suelo with powerful endgame play to reach 4/4 with a one point lead over Suelo, Qing Aun and Wei Ming (who had beaten Bong on time in a drawish position). So the Round 5 matchup between Wei Ming and Jingyao was critical for the former to stop the kid from streaking away with the event.
Hence, Wei Ming caught up with the kid and proceeded to lead by ousting Suelo in Round 6 while Bong roared back into contention by beating Irene and Jingyao to reach 4.5/6, joint second with Suelo. The shocker came in Round 7 when Qing Aun hung on with tenacious defence to outlast Goh and dealt him an upset loss. Jingyao's win over Irene made it a 4 way tie after round 7 with Bong, Wei Ming and Qing Aun with 5/7. Jingyao's climb was halted when FM Timothy Chan stunned him with a battery of accurate volleys.
Bong surged into the lead with 6/8 after beating Qing Aun while Wei Ming's bete noire IM Enrique Paciencia nicked him for a draw. Suelo joined Wei Ming in 2nd place (5.5/8) by outlasting Benjamin Foo. Bong extended his lead in Round 9 with this marvellous positional effort with a well calculated pawn sacrifice.
Wei Ming got held to a staunch draw by Tim while National Coach Paciencia ended Jingyao's hopes. In the penultimate round, Tim did Wei Ming a big favour by stopping Bong while Irene gifted Wei Ming a whole piece in the Exchange French after 10 moves, allowing Wei Ming to tie with Bong for the lead with 7/10 going into the final round. There were no surprises in the final round as Wei Ming, Bong and Paciencia won on the top 3 boards to attain the top honours. Wei Ming clinched the title on tie-break while Paciencia's 7.5/11 put him 1/2 point ahead of the remaining prize winners Suelo and Irene.
1st - IM Goh Wei Ming ($1000) 8/11
2nd- GM 'Bong' Villamayor ($500) 8/11
3rd - IM Enrique Paciencia ($300) 7.5/11
4th - NM Roberto Suelo ($100) 6.5/11
5th - IM Irene Sukandar ($50) 6.5/11.
The tournament ran very smoothly (at least from my perspective). There were only 2 illegal move claims. The first occured when Benjamin Foo claimed against Lee Junwei for a piece drop but the tournament director Olimpiu asked them to continue because he witnessed that Junwei had pressed the clock after he rearranged the piece. The other one was quite hilarious. In round 8, Andrey was a pawn up against FM Andrean Susilodinata when the latter played a check and offered a draw at the same time. Andrey paused to examine the position and decided to play on....forgetting that his king was in check...and thus moved another piece. Ouch!
Pictures from the event