Michael Concio, Jr. and Mhage Gerriahlou Sebastian downed their respective foes to stay unbeaten and on top after the fifth round of the 2023 Philippine National Juniors and Kiddies Chess Championships in Alicia, Isabela on Sunday.
Concio stopped unheralded Vince Duane Pascual on his tracks, while Sebastian turned back Ruelle Canino to jump to the top in their respective divisions with an unblemished five points each.
A World Cup veteran and an Asian rapid king, Concio, 18, has been living up to his top billing and, if he continues to sustain his magnificent form in the last three rounds, he should complete a successful title defense in this tournament backed by host Mayor and NCFP regional director Atty. Joel Amos Alejandro.
The Dasmarinas resident took the crown last year after outlasting childhood buddy and fellow International Master Daniel Quizon via tiebreaker.
For the 18-year-old Sebastian, she may have overcome the biggest hurdle in her title bid with that clinical victory over the second-seeded Canino, a runner-up in this same tournament three years ago.
In kiddies action, Gllasea Ann Hilario and Daniella Bianca Cruz halved the point to continue to share the lead in the girls’ section with four points apiece while Phil Martin Casiguran and Jaycol Sodela, who hurdled Pat Ferdoff Macabulos and Justin Jed Ortillo, respectively, to stay at the helm in the boys’ bracket with 4.5 points each.