The Philippines relied on the heroics of Grandmaster Mark Paragua as it shocked Sweden, 2.5-1.5, in the fifth round Tuesday night to barge into the top 10 of the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.
With the match tied at 1.5 points apiece following draws by GMs John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo and International Master Paulo Bersamina on boards two to four, Paragua fought his way from an almost equal position and squeezed out a 69-move draw with Erik Blomqvist on top board to snatch the upset win against the 31st-ranked Swedes.
The Filipinos, who are backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, thus leapfrogged straight to an 18-country tie at eighth spot with eight match points to show where they are the lowest-ranked country, being seeded only 52nd out of 182 men’s teams in this 11-round, 12-day event.
India 2 and Armenia share lead with perfect 10 points while a Wesley So-led United States, Uzbekistan, India 1, Cuba and Iran were a point off the pace at third to seventh spots.
The country hopes to sustain its impressive showing as it shoots for another mammoth triumph versus 22nd seed Israel, which absorbed a 2.5-1.5 defeat to So and the Americans, in the sixth round at press time.
The Filipinas, for their part, came close to likewise pulling off a shock victory against the 17th-ranked Dutch, but WGM Janelle Mae Frayna fell against top board player Eline Roebers in a 2.5-1.5 defeat.
WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego won her duel with FIDE Master Machteld Van Foreest on board three, while WGM candidate Kylen Joy Mordido split the point with WIM Rosa Ratsma on board four.
WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda was the other casualty as she fell to veteran GM Peng Zhaoqin on second board.
They fell to a 35-nation pack at 39th with six points and they will battle lower-ranked Ecuador in the sixth round at press time for a chance to bounce back on track.