Pinoy chessers surpass target in Batumi

October 06, 2018

WITH China emerging as double champion,  the Philippines settled for an uninspiring finish in the  43rd World Chess Olympiad.

A pair of disappointing 1-3 setbacks in the 11th and final round turned a promising campaign into another sad ending for the Philippines in both the men's and women's divisions in Batumi, Georgia.

IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia again provided the lone victory in the Filipinos' 1-3 loss to Southeast Asian rival Vietnam  as he toppled GM Tran Tuan Minh on biard three

GM Julio Catalino Sadorra fell to GM Le Quang Liem, FM John Paul Gomez succumbed to GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and IM Haridas Pascua yielded to IM Nguyen Anh Kho in other results.

With the loss, the GM Eugene Torre-coached Philippine team finished in a 14-country tie for 25th to 38th places with 14 points on seven wins and four losses based on a scoring system that hives two points forca win,  one point gor a draw and zero for a loss.

Overall, the 54th-seeded Filipinos wound up in 37th place based on the Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger tiebreak system.

It was a big improvement from the Filipinos' 46th-place finish in the Tromso Olympiad in 2014 and 58th-place in the Baku Olympiad two years ago.

The 37th-place finish, however, pales in comparison to the Filipinos' historic seventh-place finish in 1988 Thessaloniki Olympiad or even the country's 21st place finish in the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad -- the last Olympiad of GM Wesley So for the country.

Torre,  however,  was pleased with   his young  team’s showing.

“I am happy with the performance of the boys.With three of the  five members as first timers, I take my hats off to our young players,” said Torre in a message to People's Tonight.

“Despite the last-round loss     “to Vietnam, our final output of 14  points in  this 11-round Swiss System  format first introduced in 2008 Dresden Olympiad, equalled our total match points in the  2012  Istanbul Olympiad,” added Torre.

Torre, who was tapped to coach the team after a record-breaking  Olympiad appearance from 1970  Siegen to 2016 Baku, said the Filipinos did very well during a  five-win streak  from the sixth to10th round.

“Against higher seeded Vietnam, all the boys played well in the opening and middle games. Except for IM Garcia, the rest could not sustain it towards the end because of time pressure,” added Torre.

In Batumi,  the Philippines  won  over No. 144 seed San Marino (4-0), No. 48 Slovakia (2.5-1.5),  No. 151 Jersey (4-0), No. 60 Albania (2.5-1.5),  No.67 Uruguay (3-1),  No. 95 Zambia (2.5-1.5) and No. 78 Ecuador (3-1).

The four losses came against No. 18 Croatia (1-3),  No. 55 Estonia (1.5-2.5), No. 102 Lebanon (1.5-2.5) and No. 27 Vietnam (1-3).

In the women's division, the Philippines suffered a 1-3 defeat to Australia and finished in 67th place with 11 points on five wins,  one draw and five losses.

Marie Antounette San Diego and Bernadette Galas averted a shutout loss by drawing against Nguyen Thu Giang and Irina Berezina on boards three and four respectively.

WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, who played in all 11 rounds,  bowed to WGM Julia Ryjanova,  while WFM Shania Mae Mendoza, the team's leading scorer with 6/10,  lost to WFM Zhang Jilin.

The GM Jayson Gonzales-mentored team,  which reached as high as 12th place earlier in the tournament, lost four of the last five rounds as they failed to match their 34th-place finish in Baku in 2016.

The 2018 Batumi Oympiad was again dominated by China, which was introduced to chess by the late FIDE president Florencio Campomanes during friendly Phil-China matches in the 70s.

The Filipinos' campaign is supported by the Philippine Sports  Commission (PSC),  headed  by  Chairman William “Butch’  Ramirez, thru the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), led by President/Chairman Rep.  Prospero “Butch” Pichay and secretary-general Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.