Torre in running for top award
THE Philippine men’s team lost its second straight match, this time against Spain, 2.5-1.5, in Saturday’s eighth round of the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, but Eugene Torre continued to draw attention in the battle for honors with the Philippines’ former top player Wesley So at third board.
On percentage, Torre’s 7/8 pace, boosted by his victory-- and the Philippines’ lone win against Spain-- gives him am 87.5 percent clip followed by So, who left the National Chess Federation of the Philippines in 2014 and now plays for the US, with 85.7 percent.
But on rating performance, which includes the average strength of opponents and is the basis for awarding board prizes, So is on top while Torre is fifth.
It is a surreal picture, but common in world chess to see Torre and So, whose US team has tied for the lead in the Olympiad, fighting for honors.
A team official said that the Philippines will continue fighting in the Olympiad now that the two losses have brought it down to 50th place.
“We are in the land of the giants now. We have to fight back,” the official added.
He said Torre, the only one who has not availed of a rest, will continue to play.
The men’s team will play Argentina, which defeated defending champion China, in Sunday’s ninth round.
John Paul Gomez, who officials said was not feeling well for the eighth round clash, will man Board 2.
Rogelio Barcenilla Jr., who took his second loss last Saturday, will take a rest. Ino Sadorra will helm the team, Torre will man board three followed by Paulo Bersamina on board four.
The women’s team crushed Belgium, 4-0, and it is now in 19th place. The Filipinas will face Asian rival Mongolia in the ninth round in a match which will determine if they belong in the top 20.
The victories were earned by grandmaster candidate Janelle Mae Frayna, Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Catherine Secopito and rookie Shania Mae Mendoza, who picked up her third win in four games.
“We’re just proud of what the team is doing and we hope to sustain the form until the end,” said GM Jayson Gonzales, the NCFP executive director and women’s skipper.