by RONALYN BANAKEN
University of Baguio’s (UB) chess wizard Haridas Pascua has finally earned the prestigious International Master (IM) title – the second highest granted by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) or World Chess Federation in over-the-board play.
Pascua, an Information Technology student of UB, secured the title after hauling points at the Kuala Lumpur International Open Championship last April 4-11 in Malaysia, earning him his third and final IM norm. A norm in chess is a high level of performance in a tournament. Several norms are one of the requirements to receive a title such as Grandmaster — the highest title a chess player can attain — from the World Chess Federation.
The win elevates Pascua's Elo rating of 2375 to 2389, according him the prized title. The Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in two-player games such as chess.
During the Malaysian championship, Pascua collected six points and a half in nine games to place sixth among 88 players from 19 countries. He won five games and drew three, losing only one game to emerge as the best-placed Filipino player in the tourney.
He earlier achieved his two other norms at the 2012 Indonesia Open Championship and at the 2010 Prospero Pichay International Cup.
Pascua’s feat is yet another milestone for UB, particularly in chess, as he is the second from the University to gain the coveted IM title. The late Andronico Yap, a UB alumnus, was International Master in the early 1980s.
Pascua, along with reigning National Age Group Chess (girls 12-and-under category) champion Bea Mendoza of the UB High School, is poised to compete in the semi-finals of the National Championship in Manila slated on April 30-May 4. Winners of the finals will represent the country in the World Chess Olympiad in Norway in August.
Meanwhile, Mark Vincent Limocon of the UB Laboratory Elementary School dominated the kiddies’ division of the Annual Bangus Festival Chess Championship in Dagupan City last April 12. Limocon collected five points in six games.
The UB chess team is coached by Engr. Joseph Codiaman and Ronaldo Alvez of the UB Athletics Department.