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GM John Paul Gomez scored four wins in a row to wrest the solo lead after the fourth round of the 2011 HD Bank Cup Open chess championship at the five-star Rex Hotel here on Thursday.

Gomez, a member of the Philippine team which bagged the silver medal in the recent Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, outdueled WIM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung of Vietnam in the third round and GM Zhao Jun of China in the fourth round to keep his perfect 4-0 record in this tough, 74-player competition.

Another Filipino campaigner, IM Richard Bitoon, drew with top seed GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam in the third round and beat Kevin Goh of Singapore the following round to lead three other players with identical 3.5 points.

GM Darwin Laylo settled for a pair of draws with compatriot IM Oliver Dimakiling and CM TranThan Tu of Vietnam to share sixth to 13th places with three points.

Five other Filipinos -– GM Roland Salvador, IM Oliver Barbosa, IM Kim Steven Yap, FM Haridas Pascua and Dimakiling – also stay in contention in a tie for 14th to 27th places with 2.5 points each.

Salvador, the highest-rated Filipino here with an ELO rating of 2533, bowed to No. 22 seed Wang Chen of China in the third round but won over Vo Thanh Nin of Vietnam in the fourth round.

Barbosa, who shared first place with GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili in the ASEAN Chess Championships held in Singapore last December 26-30, succumbed to Yu Yangyi of China but recovered to beat WIM Pham Le Thao Nguyen of Vietnam.

Yap, a protégé of Cebu sports patron Boojie Lim, whipped Tan Weiliang of Singapore and then drew with IM Nguyen Van Huy of Vietnam to raise his record to 2.5 points.

Pascua outclassed Pham Dihn Nhat Khanh of Vietnam and halved the point with IM Lou Yiping of China, while Dimakiling drew with Laylo and lost to GM Yu Yangyi of China.

Merben Roque and Rodolfo Panopio are currently tied for 27th to 39th places with two points apiece, while Emmanuel Senador is tied for 40th to 53rd places with 1.5 points.

Roque halved the point with GM Nguyen Anh Dung of Vietnam and won over Pham Thi Ngoc Tu of Vietnam, while Panopio lost to GM Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam and won over WGM Irine Sukandar of Indonesia. - pna

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