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IM Pascua stuns 4th seed GM

International Master Haridas Pascua extracted 1.5 points out of games against Grandmasters Levan Pentsulaia of Georgia and Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus to snare a piece of fifth place after the penultimate round of the Philippine International Chess Championships at Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel in Zambales Saturday night.

Pascua, 23, stunned the fourth-seeded Pentsulaia in 27 moves of an English Opening in the seventh round Saturday morning and then escaped with a 49-move draw with No. 6 Kovalev of a Sicilian Rossolimo to climb to a share of No. 5 with five points each going into the final round.

There, the University of Baguio standout was playing Woman GM Lei Tingjie of China at presstime and eyeing a win or at least a draw to finish in the top five and gain some rating points that will get him near the 2500 rating he needed to officially obtain the GM title he clinched in Abu Dhabi in August last year.

To date, Pascua has a 2401 rating and should be assured of at least 14.5 points regardless of his final round result of this nine-round tournament, the first of two GM-spiced events sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission under chairman Butch Ramirez, Burlington, Marc Adventures Mining Inc. and Puregold.

“It’s been a tough and long journey but I will never give up,” said Pascua in Filipino in the meet sanctioned by the NCFP headed by president Butch Pichay and vice president Atty. Ruel Canobas.

Pascua has been on a dowhill path and watched his rating dip from 2447 in August a year ago to 2401 at present.

Should he eventually zoom to 2500, Pascua will be the country’s 12th GM and the first since 2011.

Top seed GM Wang Hao of China took the solo lead after he trounced Lei in 59 moves of a King’s Indian Defense with six points.

Half a point behind were Kovalev, Vietnamese IM Tran Tuan Minh.

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