Not wanting more, Hall of Famer Torre now imparting his genius
On most days, Grand Master Eugene Torre is preoccupied with his prevailing passion of teaching young people in strategically moving those medieval wooden pieces on the chess board.
“I spend more time now encouraging children to play chess,’’ Torre, the head coach of the national chess team, told the Inquirer.
Asia’s first GM has nothing more to prove, especially after a long and brilliant career made more illustrious by a recent enshrinement to the World Chess Hall of Fame.
“I can’t not think of any more milestones that I have to chase. I just want to inspire and pass on to the next generation of chess players what I have learned,’’ said Torre, who joined Chinese chess legend Xie Jun as the only Asians in the World Chess Hall of Fame.
The 69-year-old Torre was a veteran of 23 Olympiads, winning a silver medal during the 1974 edition in Nice, France where he claimed GM status, and a pair of bronze medals while manning board 1 for the country in 1980 Malta and 1986 Dubai.
Torre’s swan song in 2016 Baku, Azerbaijan, however, proved to be his finest hour after seizing the bronze in board 3 and finishing with a performance rating of 2836 built on nine victories and two draws.
“I saved my best for last. Percentage-wise, it was better than when I got my GM result in 1974. My performance was convincing in 2016 because of my rating,’’ said Torre.
Defeating then-reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov in a 1972 tournament in Manila also counts as one of his extraordinary triumphs, a great conversation piece in every Torre subject matter.
Inducted in the 2016 Philippine Sports Hall of Fame organized by the Philippine Sports Commission, Torre is now in the company of 36 other chess greats in the World Hall, most of them Americans and Europeans.
Among those immortalized and nominated by representatives of the World Chess Federation (Fide) were Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Victor Korchnoi and Alexander Alekhine.
“We are really proud that a Filipino was enshrined. It will be very memorable because this is the first time that a male player from Asia has been recognized,’’ said Torre.
With the induction normally set in the United States, the ceremony is unlikely to go ahead due to the raging COVID-19 health crisis.
The World Chess Hall of Fame was established in 1984 in St. Louis, Missouri, but it was only in 2001 that the body began honoring the legends of the sport.
Torre predicted that it’s only a matter of time when Indian GM and former world champion Viswanathan Anand and a couple of woman GMs from China become the next World Chess Hall of Fame inductees from the continent.
“The inductees were mostly Europeans and Americans. It’s understandable since chess blossomed late in Asia,’’ said Torre, a close friend and chief second of the late Bobby Fischer during his triumphant world title rematch against Spassky in 1992.
Besides monitoring the daily progress of the national chess team, Torre has been focusing on the development of the sport at the age-group level.
Majority of the games are now played online due to COVID-19, but it won’t be a hindrance for Torre to get more kids involved.
“I even have a 9-year-old granddaughter who has been showing interest in following my footsteps,” said Torre.
And that’s also something to watch out for, for a Torre playing chess will always be special. INQ
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