It will be an interesting match up on the top boards with Nolte playing against Manaog on Table 1. A draw by Manaog may slow down the "Nolte Express" but it will probably do little to stop the inevitable. The much more experience Philippines IM may just be a bit too advance for the other players to slow him down, or for that matter, stopping him altogether. On the other hand, a surprise win by Manaog may create a sense of dejavu of the year 2000 when four Filipinos earned the top 4 placing in the 27th edition of the Selangor Open where Antonio, Torre, Mascarinas and our current leader Nolte, turned the event into a "Manila Open" in Sungai Wang Plaza.
On Table 2, Jax Tham has been handed the responsibility to stop another Filipino in Ian Udani and perhaps, a win by Jax may put him in a final round match to meet Nolte. It has been a sensational comeback for the old timer who had a surprising lost to Syazrin in Round 1 but clawed his way back to the top after amassing 5 wins and a single draw since the loss.
For Sumant, who is playing on Table 3 against Saprin, it has been a real roller coaster ride. Losing his game to a much younger opponent Sean Ooi in Round 5 has definitely cost him a valuable point that would have put him much closer to the top of the pack. Nonetheless, with tough match ups in the upper boards, he may still get a chance to redeem himself and get closer to the leader with a win against Saprin. But then again, this is Saprin! It won't be easy for Sumant against the much calmer and composed Saprin Sabri whose two sons are also playing in the event.
|More than half of the top boards are still missing at the start of Round 8 earlier this morning. Seen above are Mohd Saprin (on the right), Roshan (on the left) and Kamaluddin (in the center)|
|Veteran Lim Kian Hwa playing against youngster Tan Yong Zhao on Table 10|
|Jax Tham against Ian Udani - At time of print, Ian has already had the upper hand|
|Saprin adjusting the pieces on the board while waiting for his opponent to arrive|