FIDE Master Randy Segarra held his own against two Belarussian Grandmasters, stunning Kirill Stupak in the first round and drawing Vladislav Kovalev in the second on Wednesday to boost his title chances in the Philippine International Chess Championships Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel in Zambales.
Seeded 27th in the 38-player field, Segarra pulled the rug from under eighth seed Stupak with a 46-move win of a Caro-Kann Defense in the first round on Tuesday night and then eked out a 30-move draw of a Queen's Pawn London System against No. 6 Kovalev the morning after to move in contention.
Segarra later said Stupak was the second GM he beat after he also shocked Armenian GM Avetik Grigorian in this same tournament two years ago.
"My preparation and a little bit of luck also helped me," said the 38-year-old Segarra, who coaches the La Salle chess team in the UAAP.
International Master Jan Emmanuel Garcia downed countryman Ali Branzuela.
GM John Paul Gomez, at ninth seed the country's highest ranked chesser here, drew with IM Emmanuel Salvador while reigning Philippine Open champion GM Joey Antonio was held to a standoff by untitled Manny Yu.
IM Ronald Bancod also agreed to a standoff with Indian IM Abhimanyu Puranik while IMs Paulo Bersamina and comebacking Ricardo de Guzman halved the point with Rodolfo Panopio, Jr. and WIM Bernadette Galas, respectively.
International Master Oliver Dimakiling lost to top seed GM Wang Hao of China, IM Haridas Pascua bowed to No. 2 GM Anton Demchenko of Russia, IM Chito Garma lost his way to Kovalev, Woman IM and newly-minted WGM Janelle Mae Frayna was brought down by No. 7 GM Merab Gagunashvili of Georgia.
Roel Abelgas lost to from No. 11 IM Tran Tuan Minh of Vietnam, Rolando Andador fell to No. 14 GM Tigran Kotanjian of Armenia, and Emmanuel Emperado was outlasted by No. 17 GM Jha Sriram of India.
The tournament was officially ushered in by National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Butch Pichay and secretary-general Bambol Tolentino along with board of directors Ruel Canobas and Neri Colmenares.
The final leg is set Dec. 12 to 19 at the same venue.