Kim Yap, Cebuano chess master, obtains GM norm
Emmanuel B. Villaruel (Associated Press) - August 23, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — When he left Cebu last June 4 for a series of major tournaments in the United States, he has one goal in mind - to obtain his first Grandmaster norm.


Ten weeks later, it's mission accomplished for Cebuano International  Master now GM candidate Kim Steven Yap.

Holding his ground against a tough field of opposition that includes two powerful GMs, Yap went on to place second in the Berkeley Chess School 2018 Summer IM/GM Norm Tournament in Berkeley, California on Monday night (Tuesday Phl time).

The 30-year-old Yap completed the 9-round Swiss system competition with 6.5 points, just half a point behind tournament champion IM Joshua Sheng of the US, but it was more than enough to propel him to his first GM norm.

Interestingly, Yap defeated Sheng in round 7. His other victims were American IMs Bryce Tiglon, and Condrad Holt, FIDE Master Josiah Stearman, and US master Gabriel Jame Bick. He figured in a draw with Indian IM Rohan Ahuja, and GMs Mark Paragua, his fellow countryman, and Priyadharshan Kannapan of India, while dropping only one match against US FIDE Master Christopher Woo. Paragua wound up fifth in a tie with Woo with identical 5.0 points.

"I really did not expect to finish second because I lost to FM Woo in the fourth round despite I'm in the winning position," said Yap. "But I just kept my focus and my will to win remains."

After settling for a draw with Ahuja in round five, Yap racked up three wins in a row against Holt, Sheng and Stearman before ending up his campaign to draw with Kannapan.

"I'm overjoyed with what I achieved because I was up against a bunch of top caliber opponents," said Yap, who has a world rating of 2448.  "I'm so glad that I was able to pull it off and fulfill my goal of coming here (in the US) and that is to get my first GM norm."

Yap accomplished the feat just five days after he and Ahuja emerged as co-champions in the BCS Summer IM Tournament also in Berkeley with 6.5 points each.

Before showcasing his wares Berkeley, Yap saw action in the New York International Open where he bested Russian GMs Tamaz Kachasveili and GM Sergei Azarov and figured in a draw with tournament winner GM John Burke of the US and his runner-up GM Viktor Mikhalevski of Russia, who is one of the world's best chess trainers and authors of chess books.

Now, Yap needed only two more norms to become a full-fledged Grandmaster. If he achieves such, he will become the 18th Filipino chess GM and fifth Cebuano after Enrico Sevilano, Rogelio Barcenilla, Joseph Sanchez, and Richard Bitoon.

Yap extended his profound gratitude to all those who, in one way or another, have helped him attain a higher degree of success at this stage of his career particularly his Cebuano benefactors in Bogie Lim of Rose Pharmacy, Inc. and Atty. Augusto 'Gus' W. Go of the University of Cebu (UC) where he serves a chess varsity head coach.

"Rest assured that through my success, I would even strive harder so that my students will also be successful not only in chess but also in life," said Yap.

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