The Philippine men’s team turned back Zambia, 2.5-1.5, while the women’s squad routed South Korea, 3-1, to bolster their chances after nine rounds of the 43rd World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia Wednesday night.
International Master Jan Emmanuel Garcia provided the lone victory—a 60-move triumph over Kela Kaulule Siame of an Engish Opening on board three—for the Filipinos as Grandmasters Julio Catalino Sadorra and John Paul Gomez and IM Haridas Pascua drew with IM Andrew Kayonde, FIDE Master Douglas Munebga and Prince Daniel Mulenga on boards one, two and four, respectively.
That sent the 54-seeded Philippines in a 14-country tie for 20th place with 12 match points after once lurking outside the top 100 when it lost to lowly Lebanon in the fifth round.
The Philippines is now just four points behind Poland, which seized the solo lead after stunning top seed and reigning champion United States, 2.5-1.5.
Interestingly, the Americans have Cavite-born GM Wesley So as their board two chesser.
The Filipinos, whose trip is bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission and NCFP president Butch Pichay, were playing the Ecuadorians, who bested the South Africans, 2.5-1.5, in the 10th and penultimate round at press time.
In women’s action, WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, WFM Shania Mae Mendoza and WIM Bernadette Galas over WFM Wang Chengjia, WFM Roza Eynula and Kim Yubin on boards one, two and four, respectively to lift the Pinay chessers to the win.
WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego fell to Park Sunwoo on board three.
The Philippines thus moved up to a 13-country logjam at 33rd spot, with 11 points and was battling Moldova at press time.