Li and Paragua have 5.0 points in six outings, half point ahead over Le, GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra and John Paul Gomez, GMs Baskaran Adhiban and Subramanian Arun Prasad of India and GM Marat Dzhumaev of Uzbekistan.
Sadorra split the point with Gomez after 29 moves of Gruenfeld defense, Adhiban outclassed GM Mohammed Al-Sayed of Qatar after 39 moves of King's Indian defense, Prasad nipped countryman GM Lalith Babu after 47 moves of Nimzo-Indian defense and Dzhumaev dealt GM Tsegmed Batchuluun of Mongolia after 42 moves of French defense.
The nine-round Swiss System event offering $100,000 in prizes is organized by the GM Eugene Torre Chess Foundation and is sponsored by eight-division world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, Cafe Puro,
Alaxan, Oriental and Motolite Corp. is held under the auspices of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines headed by it's Chairman/President Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr., Secretary-General newly-elected Cavite 7th district Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino Jr., Asian Chess Federation and FIDE (World Chess Federation).
Sharing the limelight are 15-year-old Jerad Docena who held GM Parimarjan Negi of India into a fighting draw while FM Hamed Nouri upset IM Nguyen Duc Hoa of Vietnam and maintained his reputation as "giant killer in international competitions".
Docena, a habitue of Spare and Strike in Bangkal, Makati earlier drew with IM Kiril Kuderinov of Kazakhstan in round 1, bowed to GM Niaz Murshed of Bangladesh in round 2, beat IM Emmanuel Senador in round 3, drew with IM Go Weiming of Singapore in round 4, shocked FM Haridas Pascua in round 5.
Nouri, on the other hand was yielded to Sadorra in round 1, beat Joseph Galindon in round 2, drew with GM Krishnan Sasikiran of India in round 3, upset GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami of Iran in round 4, and lost to Prasad in round 5.
Docena and Nouri have 3.5 points, two of the most promising players groom to become a grandmaster in the future according to NCFP Chairman/President Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr.
" Sina Jerad (Docena) at (Hamed) Nouri ang ilan sa mga pambato natin na malaki ang pag-asa na maging grandmaster sa hinaharap," said Pichay.
Docena tallied a Rating Performance 2520 while Nouri notch a Rating Performance of 2541, both seeking GM and IM title norms here.
"So far so good maganda ang nilalaro ng mga bata natin. Hope mahawakan nila ang momentum sa nalalabing tatlong laro," said National Chess Federation of the Philippines Secretary-General and newly-elected Cavite 7th district Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino Jr.
"We (NCFP) hope na makapasok ang mga player natin sa World Chess Cup. Ipagpatuloy natin ang pagdarasal at pagsuporta sa kanila," added NCFP Vice President for Visayas and Grass Roots Development Head Bayan Muna Re. Neri Javier Colmenares.
In the women's play, WIM Catherine Perena defeated WGM Bhakti Pradip Kulkarni of India to raise her total to 4.0 points, good for share 7th to 10th placers in the company of WGM Huang Qian of China, WIM Ni Shiqun of China and WIM Chelsie Monica Sihite of Indonesia.
IM Pham Le Thao Nguyen of Vietnam beat WFM Marie Antoinette Sandiego to create a six-way tie for first place together with IM Batkhuyag Munguntuul of Mongolia, WGM Mary Ann Gomes of India WGMs Guo Qi, Tan Zhongyi and Wang Jue of China who totes 4.5 points each.