BAGUIO City-based wood pusher Haridas Pascua started his bid on a high note posting early victories in the 5th HD Bank Cup International Chess Tournament in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
As of 9 a.m. of March 19, the 21-year-old International Master firmed up his bid to take the top spot with two victories and one defeat after the first three rounds of the international sports event slated March 16-23.
The University of Baguio chess wizard marked early back-to-back triumphs over untitled Indian national, S. Harini, and IM Myo Naing of Myanmar.
Haridas finished his game against the two with 48 and 40 moves, respectively, but took a hard time marking his third win in the tournament after being matched with GM and Vietnam's top ranked chess player, Quang Liem Le, in the third round.
"We are still on the right track, kaya pang humabol ni Haridas para makuha yung target niya na GM norm bago matapos ang tournament na ito," Haridas' father Gilbert told Sun.Star Baguio through Facebook.
The University of Baguio Information Technology senior plunges to action in his second international outing this year as he tries to be the 18th Filipino GM following the steps of his friend and former teammate Wesley So.
"Hopefully and in God's will the second out of three ng mga GM norms ni Haridas makuha niya dito ngayon," Gilbert added.
Haridas shares the top spot with 30 other players including five fellow Filipinos including GM Julio Catalino Saddora, IM’s Oliver Dimakiling, Rolando Nolte and Paolo Bersamina, and untitled Franz Robert Grafil.
In the third round of the contest, Sadorra outclassed FIDE Master (FM) Nguyen Anh Khoi of Vietnam, Dimakiling beat Vietnamese Trand Le Dan Thu, Nolte toppled Nguyen Phuoc Tam of Vietnam, Bersamina nipped Lee Kyung Seok of South Korea and Grafil stunned Filipino GM Richard Bitoon.
Haridas acquired his first GM norm last year in December at the Philippine Sports Commission International Chess Challenge held in Quezon City.
The 21-year-old chess wizard, who started playing the sport at the age of four, is currently ranked 12th overall in the entire Philippines with an ELO rating of 2,430 in standard chess, 2,395 in rapid, and 2403 in blitz.