By Kristel Satumbaga
International Master Haridas Pascua topped the final four-man Olympiad playoff Wednesday night to claim the fifth and last berth to the Philippine team seeing action in the 44th World Chess Olympiad set Aug. 5 to 18 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
The 26-year-old Pascua scored four points out of a possible six and finished half a point ahead of Grandmaster Darwin Laylo with 3.5 points.
He joins GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra, Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. and John Paul Gomez and IM Paulo Bersamina in the national squad.
Laylo had a chance to forge a tie and another playoff with Pascua, who lost his final round assignment to IM Daniel Quizon, had the former beaten IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia.
Laylo managed just a draw, however, to slip to second.
It will be Pascua’s second Olympiad stint after debuting in Batumi, Georgia two years ago.
“It’s always an honor playing for flag and country,” said Pascua, a Mangatarem, Pangasinan native who now lives in Baguio City.
Apart from the Olympiad, Pascua said his other goal is to reach the 2500-rating mark and officially become a full-fledged GM. His current rating is 2418.