GM Mark Paragua settled for a 31-move draw with eighth seed GM Kirill Stupak of Belarus in 31 moves of a Queen’s Pawn Game to keep his grip of the lead along with three others after the third round of the Philippine Sports Commission-Puregold International Chess Challenge at the Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel Wednesday night.
Paragua, now based in the United States, was riding the crest of two impressive wins including one against countryman IM Oliver Dimakiling but failed to capitalize on a slight positional edge and agreed to a standoff with Stupak.
Despite it, Paragua has his firm hold of the lead along with Stupak, top seed GM Wang Hao of China and No. 4 GM Levan Pantsulaia, each owning 2.5 points this nine-round event sponsored by the PSC, Burlington, Marc Adventures Mining Inc. and Puregold.
Wang, who topped the first leg a few days back, bashed fellow Chinese WGM Lei Tingjie’s French Defense with a quick, merciless 23-move triumph while Pantsulaia downed opening round sensation Hamed Nouri in 42 moves of a Queen’s Indian to zoom to the four-man tie on top.
Breathing down the leaders’ necks was a big group of chessers with two points that included Filipinos GM Eugene Torre, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia, GM Joey Antonio and GM Darwin Laylo.
Torre and Garcia battled to a 31move standoff of a quiet Slav duel while Antonio and Laylo fought to a 30-move split of yet another Slav.
WIM Janelle Mae Frayna drew with Im Paulo Bersamina in 34 moves to stay on title course with 1.5 points.
Frayna is fresh from her sterling Olympiad where she clinched the WGM and men’s IM title in the same biennial meet.
But for her to assume the titles, Frayna, currently rated 2320, would need to breach the 2400-rating mark.