Shania Mae Mendoza provided one of the few silver linings in Palawan’s loss against Iloilo by defeating two-time Armenian champion Hovhannes Gabuzyan in the blitz portion of the Wesley So Cup, the second conference of the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines (PCAP) Saturday.

Mendoza defeated Gabuzyan in 76 moves of a Larsen’s Opening, nursing a passed pawn to promotion when her foe quit. Palawan’s Indian import, Padmini Rout trounced Joey Antonio on board two. But Iloilo’s five other players won as they took the blitz, 5-2. In the rapid section, only Antoinette San Diego, now facing male opponents, scored for Palawan by defeating Dennis Bernas. The final count: Iloilo 13, Palawan 1.

In the first conference of the PCAP, Mendoza stunned Antonio. Gabuzyan should not have been Mendoza’s second grandmaster scalp in the PCAP. He outplayed her and had a big advantage in various stages of the game. In this diagram (see Diagram 1), Gabuzyan was still better after Mendoza’s 54th move. His passed e pawn was going to queen and his king was poised to go to f3 on the 55th move, going to e4, and after d5 and a pawn swap control the center.

Diagram 1

Instead, Gabuzyan played 55. Bc7 hoping for 56 Bd8 and attacking the h-pawn. Despite Mendoza’s time pressure she played 55.. Kf6 attacking the e-pawn. After 57 Bxh4 Mendoza played Bxd4!, depriving White of a chance to create a passer. When White played 58. Be1 and Black played 58.. Bxc5, the tables were completely turned. The rest of the game: 59. Kf3 Ke5 60. g4 Be7 61 Bc3 ch Kd5 62 Kf4 Kc4 63 Be1 Kd3 64 g5 c5 (It is a matter of technique, as the old masters would say) 65. g6 Bf6 66 Kf5 Bd4 67 Ke6 c4 68 Kd6 c3 69 Bxc3 Kxc3 70. Kc7 Kb4 71 Kxb7 Kxa5 72 Kc6 Kb4, White resigns. 

Rout, the former Asian champ, obtained a better position against Antonio’s Caro-Kann. With accurate play, she wrested a decisive advantage on the 37th move.

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With 37 Rc7! unmasking her bishop’s diagonal to attack the rook on a8 and the bishop on c5, Rout won material and made the advantage of a piece tell. In the rapid game, Antonio called upon his old Sicilian Alapin and won in 28 moves, ending with a mate.

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