By Jean Malanum

FATHER AND SON. FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri (right) and his father, Iranian International Master Hamed Nouri, shake hands after the final round of the Laoag City Open chess tournament at Ilocos Norte National High School gymnasium on Saturday (Dec. 23, 2023). Alekhine won the match in 34 moves of English Opening. (Contributed photo)

MANILA – Filipino-Iranian FIDE Master Alekhine Nouri was crowned Laoag City Open champion at Ilocos Norte National High School gymnasium on Saturday night. 

The 18-year-old from the City of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan tied for first place with International Master (IM) Barlo Nadera of Malabon, Metro Manila and Marc Francis Balanay of Santa Marcela, Apayao at the end of the nine-round Swiss System tournament with 7.5 points. 

But Nouri was declared the winner due to superior tiebreak points. He claimed the championship trophy and PHP30,000, the same amount given to Nadera and Balanay. 

In the final round, Nouri defeated his father, International Master Hamed, in 34 moves of English Opening; Nadera beat National Master (NM) Lorenzon Aaron Cantela of General Trias City, Cavite in 43 moves of Gruenfeld Defense; and Balanay downed Alfredo Rapanot of Cagayan de Oro City in 48 moves of Torre Attack Opening. 

IM Rolando Nolte finished with 7.0 points, followed by Rapanot, Hamed Nouri, Antonio Chavez Jr. and Richel Lomocso (6.5). 

Cantela, IM Jose Efren Bagamasbad, Jaime Criste, Nazario Ubanan, Rodolfo Panopio Jr., NM Edmundo Gatus, Luffe Magdalaga, Rommel Lucion, Jared Yzkhailer Cajigal and Geraldine Guyo ended with 6.0 points. 

“Right now, I am tired. It’s been a long week. But I’m happy to come out on top. It’s definitely a confidence-booster heading to my first tournament of the year at Robinsons Galleria [in Quezon City],” Nouri said. 

He is a product of world boxing champion and National Chess Federation of the Philippines vice president Manny Pacquiao’s chess development program. 

Nouri, who joined the World Juniors in Sardinia, Italy last year, is among the favorites to win the GM Rosendo Carreon Balinas Jr. Rapid Youth Chess Championship on Jan. 13, 2024 at Robinsons Galleria. (PNA)