MANILA, Philippines -- Grandmaster (GM) Li Chao of China is now sharing the top spot with GM Mark Paragua of the Philippines in the $100,000 Manny Pacquiao Cup Asian Continental Chess Championship at the Midas Hotel and Casino here.
Li defeated GM Richard Bitoon in 46 moves of Catalan Opening on Thursday to share the top spot with Paragua after six rounds of play.
"Medyo naipit y'ung posisyon ko sa middle game saka active ‘yung two bishop n’ya. Sa rook and pawn end game hindi ko na siya mapipigilan mag promote ng Queen. Bawi na lang sa susunod na round," said Bitoon.
Paragua, meanwhile, only managed a draw against top seed GM Le Quang Liem of Vietnam after 29 moves of Sicilian defense in their Queen, rook and pawn middle game.
"Talagang nauwi sa tabla ang laban," said Paragua.
Li and Paragua have 5.0 points in six outings, a half point ahead over Le, GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra and John Paul Gomez, GMs Baskaran Adhiban and Subramanian Arun Prasad of India and GM Marat Dzhumaev of Uzbekistan.
Sadorra split the point with Gomez after 29 moves of Gruenfeld defense, while Adhiban outclassed GM Mohammed Al-Sayed of Qatar after 39 moves of King's Indian defense.
Prasad nipped fellow Indian GM Lalith Babu after 47 moves of Nimzo-Indian defense. Dzhumaev dealt GM Tsegmed Batchuluun of Mongolia a beating after 42 moves of French defense.
The nine-round Swiss System event which offers $100,000 in prizes is organized by the GM Eugene Torre Chess Foundation and is sponsored by boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao.
The event, also supported by Cafe Puro, Alaxan, Oriental and Motolite Corp., is being held under the auspices of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines.
Sharing the limelight with Li and Paragua is 15-year-old Jerad Docena who held GM Parimarjan Negi of India into a fighting draw.
FIDE Master (FM) Hamed Nouri upset IM Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam and maintained his reputation as a "giant killer in international competitions."
Docena and Nouri have 3.5 points and are being groomed to become future grandmasters in the future according to NCFP Chairman Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr.
In the women's play, Woman International Master (WIM) Catherine Perena defeated woman Grandmaster (WGM) Bhakti Pradip Kulkarni of India to raise her total to 4.0 points.
This is good for a share of 7th to 10th places with WGM Huang Qian of China, WIM Ni Shiqun of China and WIM Chelsie Monica Sihite of Indonesia.
IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen of Vietnam beat Woman FIDE Master Marie Antoinette Sandiego to create a six-way tie for first place together with IM Batkhuyag Munguntuul of Mongolia, WGM Mary Ann Gomes of India WGMs Guo Qi, Tan Zhongyi and Wang Jue of China who tote 4.5 points each. By Marlon Bernardino