JOEL PIMENTEL halved the point with Van Thanh Nguyen of Vietnam to lose sole possession of the lead after seven rounds in the Open Under-20 division of the 13 ASEAN+ Age-Group Chess Championships in Vietnam.
The pride of Bacolod City took the solo lead following his victory over erstwhile co-leader Firman Syah Farid of Indonesia in the sixth round.
But the draw coupled with a win by FIDE Master Tuan Minh Tran of Vietnam against Woman International Master Altanulzii Enkhtuul of Mongolia led to a tie for the lead in the centerpiece event of the competition.
Both Pimentel and Tran boasted 5.5 points.
Lennon Hart Salgados and Nubairshah Shaikh Mhd of India also halved the point while Farid rebounded by thrashing FM M Amin Tabatabaei of Iran to keep the leaders within their sight.
The trio raised their output to 5.0 points.
Austin Jacob Literatus led the chase group in OU-16 with his 5.0 points after his conquest of Sagara Gelar of Indonesia.
He's just half-point behind solo leader FM Tuan Minh Le of Vietnam, who toppled fellow Vietnamese FM Chan Hung Lu.
FM Paulo Bersamina downed Yiou Wang of China in OU-14 to push his total to 5.5 points.
But Minh Thang Tran of Vietnam was able to grab solo leadership with 6.0 by taking the scalp of erstwhile co-leader Ahuja Rohan of India.
Bersamina, seeded first in his division, will try to wrest the lead from Tran when they meet in the eighth round.
Stephen Rome Pangilinan's chances for the title took a hit after settling for a draw against Minh Chien Huyn of Vietnam.
He remained in a tie for second with 5.5 points, but solo leader FM Anh Khoi Nguyen was comfortably ahead with 7.0 points.
The country's campaign in the tournament is supported by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).