Salimbagat wins 2009 Winter ChessFest

Rico Salimbagat, Champion 2009 Winter ChessFestNEW YORK — In a battle of the mind and endurance, FIDE Chess Master Rico Salimbagat, outmaneuvered tournament newcomer Ryan Magat during a 5-minute “sudden-death” match to break a three-way tie and win the 2009 Winter Chess Fest top prize.

Salimbagat endured six rounds of intense play with three players tied for first place receiving the same number of points.

The event, which attracted more than 30 chess players from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, was held on March 14 at the NYU School of Medicine in Manhattan. The top-seeded former Philippine Army top player was awarded with a Championship Trophy and a $400 cash prize. The feat is also his first competition for the year.

Salimbagat and Magat opened the game with a French Defense which progressed into a positional battle towards the middle game when major pieces were traded. As the energetic Magat was using more time to make his moves, the game reached its peak as they approached the end game with a knight and pawn remaining on the board.

Pressed for time from the beginning, Magat eventually yielded to the clock’s limitation forcing its flag to fall and lose the game. He only had a few seconds left in his clock against his opponent who had still had two more minutes left.

Salimbagat is known for venturing into unconventional plays. He deviates from familiar opening book lines by giving up pawns early in the game to gain better development of his pieces, especially when he plays black. One of his big wins in this tournament was overcoming a complicated middle game in Round 5 to beat second-seed Senior Master David Apelo.

The 33-year-old Salimbagat, who has a current FIDE rating of 2249, played white in his game against 22-year-old Magat, who earned a runner-up honor and a $200 cash prize.

Third place trophy and a $100 cash prize went to chess Expert, 24-year-old Michael Adarlo, a 2004 Philippine Active Chess and National University Champion. Third-seeded National Master Jun Encarnacion finished fourth and was awarded with a medal.

A multi-awarded chess player, Salimbagat participated in the 2003 U.S. Open and Western Pacific Champion in the Senior Master category, the 2008 Chicago Open and the Foxwoods Open. He placed 2nd at the 2006 Bangkok Open.

Among the Unrated players, Romel Lapay grabbed the first place trophy followed by Leon Buencochillo, Rolly Rafanan, Kit Valiente and Emil Albolote, respectively.

Other participants that were recognized in the tournament were: Jerry Salazar, Best in Under-2000; Jose de la Cruz, Best in Under-1600, both received a trophy and $50 cash prize; Tony Yabut, Best-in-Senior, Jacqueline Rafael, Teen; Erin Encarnacion, Child.

“More than half of the players that participated in the tournament were rated by US Chess Federation,” said Nonoy Rafael, the Tournament Director. He also said that more chess tournaments are planned for the year and supported by organizations with a good cause.

The 2009 Winter ChessFest was co-sponsored by Kalusugan Coalition, Inc. and the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health and the NYU School of Medicine Project AsPIRE team headed by their director, Rhodora Ursua, and coordinators David Aguilar and Henry Soliveres.

Trophy Winners (L-R): Jacqueline Rafael, Best Teen; Romel Lapay, Best Unrated; Erin Encarnacion-Best Child; Jerry Salazar, Best U2000; Jose Dela Cruz – Best U1600; Ryan Magat, runner-up; Michael Adarlo – 3rd place; Nonoy Rafael, Tournament Director; Rico Salimbagat, Champion; and Rhodora Ursua, Project Director.

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