MANILA, Philippines – Haridas Pascua salvaged a consolation prize by taking third in the Asian Continental Championship blitz tournament in Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, August 12.
Pascua, 24, and a native of Baguio City, was actually tied from second to sixth places with 7 points, half-a-point ahead of the winner Salem A.R. Saleh of the host country. But on tiebreak, Pascua took third place behind Zhang Zhong of Singapore.
His result justified the support given by the Filipino Chess Players League and Toti Abundo, a top official of the Asian Chess Federation who is based in the UAE.
“It seems impossible… I can’t believe that I won (third). Maybe luck is on my side,” said Pascua on his Facebook page.
But Jayson Gonzales, executive director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines, said Pascua is talented. “He is a very strong blitz player. He sees every combination,” said Gonzales in a phone interview with Rappler.com.
“He just needs to study some more,” added Gonzales.
In the standard tournament, where the top 5 finishers enter next month’s World Cup – the second qualifying stage for the world championship – Pascua scored 4 points from 9 rounds, good for 57th place.
In a private message at his Facebook account, Pascua said he didn’t know why his play went down starting after the second round when he lost to Iranian grandmaster Ghaem Maghami after holding Le Quang Liem of Vietnam, Southeast Asia’s strongest player, to a draw.
“I noticed that after five hours of play I tire easily and I try too hard,” said Pascua. From the third to the ninth and last round, Pascua took 3 losses from players who are rated lower than him. These players, who are mostly veterans, outmanuevered him in long games.
Pascua lost 17 Elo rating point and that would bring down his Elo rating to 2427. Even if he is able to get his third norm to be a grandmaster in the Abu Dhabi International Open Tournament, he has to raise his Elo rating to 2500 to get the title.
Was it foolhardy that Pascua chose to get his final grandmaster norm in the Asian championship instead of an easier tournament in Southeast Asia? “I learned many things here. I saw how the Vietnamese, Indians and Chinese play,” he said. “It’s so tough to become a grandmaster.” – Rappler.com