Vietnamese women Thanh An, Bao Tram and Mai Hung now occupy the top three positions at the ongoing Asian Zonal 3.3 Chess Championships (World Cup qualifier) in the Philippines.
Nguyen Thi Thanh An continued to impress, beating host contestant Galas Bernadette in the 7th round on Sunday to earn 6 points to lead the pack, 1.5 points ahead of Hoang Thi Bao Tram and Nguyen Thi Mai Hung, in the second and third place respectively.
The sixth-seeded Thanh An only needs one more draw in the final two games to win the championship and a berth at the 2014 World Cup.
In the men’s event, Vietnam’s number two grandmaster, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, has slid to second place with 5.5 points after being held by host rival Antonio Rogelio, while Filipino So Wesley beat Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam to climb to the top spot with 6 points.
There are two more games to go and Son and Wesley are very likely to take the top two spots, and earn berths to next year’s World Cup.
By rule, only the two male players and the female champion at the January 22-29 event in the Philippines will qualify for the World Cup 2014.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s best player Le Quang Liem was held to a draw Sunday in the sixth round of the 2013 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess after five consecutive wins.
The Sunday game against Russian rival Nikita Vitiugov, elo 2694 and ranked 54th by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) was a tough one for the 8th-seeded Liem, elo 2705, ranked 39th globally. The match was tough for both players, who fought to a tie after 86 moves.
Despite the draw, the 21-year-old Liem who earned 5.5 points, remains on top of the masters’ event where he will next clash with top seed Ukrainian Vassily Ivanchuk, elo 2758, in the seventh round.