PH chessers eye 10th vs Romanians | Inquirer Sports

PH chessers eye 10th vs Romanians

By: - Editor / @RLuarcaINQ
/ 09:37 PM September 09, 2012

OPEN: 17 points—China, Armenia, Russia; 16.0—Ukraine; 15.0—Hungary, Germany, Poland, United States; 14.0—Argentina, Netherlands, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Romania, Philippines, Slovenia

WOMEN: 17 points—China, Russia; 16.0—Ukraine; 15.0—France, Kazakhstan, Germany, India; 14.0—Poland, Bulgaria, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Romania, Peru

ISTANBUL, Turkey—A top-10 finish in sight, the Philippines will go all out against higher-rated Romania at the conclusion of the 40th Chess Olympiad Sunday.

The Filipinos, already assured of a loftier finish than their worst-ever 50th placing two years ago in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, need to upset the Romanians in the 11th and final round to realize a 24-year goal in the biennial meet that lured a record 158 countries to this historic city.

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Tasked to do what was deemed to be improbable when they left home two weeks ago are Grandmasters Wesley So, Oliver Barbosa, Eugene Torre and Mark Paragua. They will man the boards for the 35th-seeded Philippines in descending order.

Opposing them are a similarly all-GM Romanian squad rated 25th among 150 teams in the Open Division.

Former World Chess Cup qualifier Constantin Lupulescu (Elo 2614) will handle white against So; while GM Mircea-Emiliano Parligras (2618) will play black against Barbosa.

Torre, second only to Hungarian GM Lajos Portisch (176.5) in total points output in the Olympiad with 149.5 points thus far, will battle Levente Vajda (2612).

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Newly crowned national champion Mark Paragua will tackle Vladismar Nevednichy (2554) as the Filipinos nurture slim hopes of matching their best-ever seventh-place windup in the 1988 Thessaloniki (Greece) Olympiad.

The Philippines has never beaten the Romanians in their last three Olympiad encounters.

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They wound up tied in both the 1996 Yerevan (Armenia) and 2006 Turin (Italy) editions, but the Romanians trounced the Filipinos (3-1) in 1998 in the Elista (Kalmykia) Olympiad

Torre, who played in all those confrontations, is optimistic of the Nationals’ chances against the Romanians, who were also dumped by the Chinese in the third round, 3-1. The Filipinos bowed to the Chinese, 0.5-3.5, in Round 9 with So drawing with Super GM Wang Hao.

It will also be make-or-break for the Filipino women when they tangle with their counterparts from Bosnia and Herzegovina who are ranked 39th in the division.

Despite being held to a 2-2 tie by the lower-rated Malaysians in the 10th round Friday, the 57th seed Filipinas remain confident of posting an upset that would enable them to surpass their 12-point output and 44th place effort in Khanty-Mansiysk.

National Chess Federation of the Philippines executive director and team coach Jayson Gonzales said Saturday’s break enabled the Filipinas to loosen up. They had lunch at a Turkish restaurant, then visited some historic sites and bazaars dotting the narrow cobblestone side streets before retiring to their rooms to prepare for the final battle.

So, the only unscathed Filipino player with two wins and eight draws against elite rivals, and International Master Oliver Dimakiling, the board 5 player, tagged along.

Torre and roommates Paragua and Dimakiling stayed behind at Radisson Blu hotel, relaxing and reviewing the Romanians’ games and then went on a stroll in a nearby mall.

Woman International Master Catherine Pereña, her spirit lifted after salvaging a draw in Round 10, meets WIM Elena Boric on board 1 while Janelle Mae Frayna, who earned an outright Woman Fide Master title here, faces WFM Aleksandra Dimintrijevic on board 2

Jedara Docena tries to snap a three-game losing spell when she tangles with WFM Dijana Dengler while Jan Jodilyn Fronda aims for her third straight win against Sanja Dedijer on board four.

With 11 match points thus far, the Filipinas must forge a draw to match their production in Khanty-Mansiysk. A win would likely push them into the top 40 and in strong contention for the Group C (teams ranked 51 to 75) title of the Women’s Division.

The Filipinos, meanwhile, are disputing Group B (teams seeded 32-62) honors with the Uzbeks, who clash with the Vietnamese in the last round.

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Meanwhile, Baku, Azerbaijan, has been chosen to host the 2016 Olympiad during the Fide General Assembly, besting fellow bidders Albena, Bulgaria, and Tallin, Estonia. The 41st Chess Olympiad will be held in Tromso, Norway, in 2014.

TAGS: 40th Chess Olympiad, Chess

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