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Nolte, Antonio near MCPL title

Good thing Nolte and Antonio stepped up in shouldering the responsibility of carrying the country’s fight.

Filipino International Master Rolando Nolte and Grandmaster Joey Antonio fashioned out big results to grab a piece of the lead after the seventh round of the MCPL Manny Pacquiao International Open Chess Festival Friday in General Santos City.

Nolte stunned second pick GM Lucas Van Foreest of the Netherlands with a draw while Antonio walloped countryman IM Kim Steven Yap to lay claim to the share of the lead with three others with 5.5 points each.

Apart from Nolte, Antonio and Van Foreest, Russian-born Konstantin Sek of FIDE and No. 4 pick GM Pier Luigi Basso of Italy also zoomed to the top and on course of snatching the top P1.14 million prize, the richest in the country in decades, courtesy of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.

Sek stopped the country’s IM Daniel Quizon on his tracks with a 40-move triumph of a Sicilian duel while Basso outlasted American IM John Daniel Bryant in this event supported by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

The 18-year-old, Dasmariñas, Cavite-based Quizon caught two big fishes in third seed GM Vitaly Sivuk of Sweden and top pick Hovhannes Gabuzyan of Armenia in the previous two rounds the day before but ran into a game Sek, who outplayed in the former in their middle game skirmishes.

Good thing Nolte and Antonio stepped up in shouldering the responsibility of carrying the country’s fight.

Also with five points were Gabuzyan and IM Michael Concio, Jr., who split the points, and GM Darwin Laylo, who smashed Xavier John Verdun.

Nolte was battling Basso while Antonio was clashing with Sek in the eighth and penultimate round at press time, hoping to cling on to the lead going into the final round Saturday.

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