PH men fuel rise from depths, eye history
The Philippine men’s team is on a major comeback, topping Ecuador, 3-1, Thursday night to move within sniffing distance of a top-10 finish after the 10th and penultimate round of the 43rd World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.
All but labeled a flop after a defeat to Lebanon had the squad orbiting almost aimlessly outside the top 100, the men drew decisive wins from International Masters Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Haridas Pascua over Fide Master Kevin Naboa and IM Miguel Munoz Sanchez to fuel the latest climb.
Grandmasters Julio Catalino Sadorra and John Paul Gomez pitched in with draws over GM Carlos Matamoros Franco and IM Christian Barros to jam the Philippines into a seven-team tie for 13th place with 14 points.
Coleaders United States and China lead the pack with 17 points. The United States, led by Filipino sensation Wesley So, defeated Armenia Thursday while China hauled down erstwhile solo leader Poland.
And nonplaying coach Eugene Torre, who was part of the 1988 team that finished eighth—the country’s best performance in the Olympiad—in Thessaloniki, Greece, feels the current squad has a shot at bettering that record if it can fashion out an upset against Vietnam.
“The team prepared hard and didn’t give up. We have an opportunity to make history,” said Torre, whose team is backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and NCFP president Prospero Pichay.
While the men’s team continued their inspiring charge, the women’s squad, which earlier in the tournament was left to carry the fight for the Philippine delegation, dropped to a share of 46th spot after losing to Moldova, 1.5-2.5.
WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WIM Bernadette Galas lost to WIM Diana Baciu and WFM Paula-Alexandra Gitu on boards one and four while WIM Catherine Secopito bested WFM Olga Hincu on board two and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza drew with IM Svetlana Petrenko on board three.
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