MANILA Philippines - Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So continued to reach new heights on the international chess stage when he emerged as the top junior player at the end of the Aeroflot Chess Festival 2009 at the Hotel Gamma-Delta in Moscow.
So, the country's highest-rated player with an ELO of 2627, drew his ninth and final-round match against GM Zaven Andriasian of Armenia in 36 moves of the Sicilian to finish in a tie for 17th to 36th places with five points on three wins, four draws and two losses.
More importantly, the 15-year-old Filipino champion clinched the award as the top junior player.
So, who was voted as the "Chess Player of the Year" by the Philippine Sportswriters Associaiton (PSA), edged fellow world junior campaigners GM Eltaj Safarli of Azerbaijan, GM Sanan Sjugirov of Russia and IM Ray Robson of the United States.
GM Etienne Bacrot of France trounced erstwhile solo leader GM Arman Pashikian of Armenia and GM Alexander Moiseenko of Ukraine subdued GM Zhou Weiqi of Choan to share first place with 6.5 points.
Bacrot, however, clinched the top spot by virtue of higher tiebreak score.
Seven players, led by GM Zhou Jianchao of China and GM Borki Predojevic of Bosnia, share third to ninth places with six points. With them were GM Sergei Zhigalko of Belarus, GM Igor Kurnosov of Russia, GM Vladimir Potkin of Russia, GM Evgeny Tomashevsky of Russia and Pashikian.
Nine other players share 20th to 18th places, finishing half a point ahead of So's group at 5.5 points.
Among the notable players who finished with the same score as So are last year's champion GM Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia, third ssed GM Arkadj Naiditsch of Germany, GM Alexey Dreev of Russia, Ilia Smirin of Israel, Jaan Ehlvest of the United States and Boris Grachev of Russia.
So even finished ahead of top seed GM Shakriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, GM Alexander Onishcuk of the United States, GM Evgeny Bareev of Russia, GM Loek van Wely of the Netherlands, GM Rafael Vaganian of Armeia, GM Varuzhan Akobian of the United States, GM Artashes Minasian of Armenia, GM Li Chao of China, GM Tigran Petrosian of Armenia and GM Ehsan Ghaemmaghami of Iran.
In Divison A-2, IM Richard Bitoon settled for a draw with GM Alexander Potapov (ELO 2456) of Russia to finish in a share of 22nd to 39th places with five points.
The pride of Medellin, Cebu, finished with four wins, two draws and three losses for five points, two full points behind eventual champions IM Alexandre Danin of Russia and GM Melikset Khachiyan of the United States.
In Division B, Haridas Pascua outclassed WGM Baira Kovanova of Russia to finish in a tie for sixth to 15th places with six points.
Pascua, who is set to represent the country in the world junior chess championship in Argentina later this year, wound up with four wins, four draws and only one loss.
Another Filipino campaigner, Jan Emmanuel Garcia, finished in a share off 21st to 38h places with five points on two wins, six draws and one loss.
Garcia, a member of the famed V.Luna Chess Club, drew with Danila Belousov of Russia in the final round.