The Philippines may soon have another chess grand master (GM) in the coming days. Haridas Pascua, 24, one the most promising young Filipino talents who holds the title of international master (IM), is back in the UAE to compete with more than 100 chess masters from 39 countries in the first ever Sharjah Masters International Chess Championship slated from March 22 to 31.

After the Sharjah tourney, Pascua will take part in the Dubai Open Chess Tournament at the Dubai Chess and Culture Club, where two other Filipino grandmaster prospects, IM Oliver Dimakiling and IM Kim Steven Yap, are also expected.

The University of Baguio graduate is hoping to earn 25 points in the overall finish of the tourney to bag the much-coveted grandmaster title. Pascua is currently ranked 16th among the active chess players in the Philippines with an ELO rating of 2,440.

“Once I reach the rating of 25, I will automatically be declared grand master. That is my aim for competing in this tournament aside from hoping to bag the cash prize of $15,000,” said Pascua in an exclusive phone interview with The Filipino Times.
Once he gets the GM title, Pascua, who works as a part-time online chess trainer based in Malaysia, will then aim for higher ground in the Philippine chess arena.
“Just like my other contemporaries in the field of chess, I also want to become the top player in the Philippines. That’s where my focus is at the moment. Since I am still young, settling down and having a family is not in my priority list yet,” said Pascua.
The young champ is accompanied by his father Gilbert Pascua, who also doubles as his coach-mentor, for the nine-day event.
Pascua’s visit is supported by the UAE-based Filipino Chess Players League (FCPL) who has backed him up in his participation in the previous tournaments in the UAE.

Photo Caption
Grandmaster-elect Haridas Pascua, 24, (3rd from L) along with supporters and sponsors.
(L-R) Joey Tiberio Philippine Airlines Sales Manager; Albert Fernando Chief Operating Officer; Haridas Pascua Philippine Grand Master; Gilbert Pascua Father & Coach; Rajiv Bhatacharjee Head of Business Development; Russell Gonzalez, Non Air Product Development; and William Penaredondo Community Manager.