GRANDMASTER Eugene Torre provided the silver lining in the Philippine men's team's lackluster performance in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan by snaring a bronze medal on board three.
The 64-year-old Torre eked out a marathon win over International Master Moulthun Ly of Australia to finish unbeaten as he scored 10 points out of the possible 11 on nine victories and two draws.
Torre emerged with the highest total by any participant in the 11-round biennial event but settled for just a bronze since tournament regulation gives the gold to the chesser who ends up with the highest performance rating.
That honor went to former Philippine team top board player GM Wesley So, who represented eventual champion United States. He emerged with a performance rating of 2896, beating silver medal winner GM Zoltan Almasi of Hungary (2845) and Torre (2836).
Torre's bronze, however, shone like gold as the many-time Olympiad veteran took his first medal since snatching a silver in the 1974 edition in Nice, France where he also became Asia's first ever GM.
Torre's mammoth effort couldn't save the Philippines from suffering a 1.5-2.5 loss to Australia that sent the Filipinos skidding to 58th place overall with 12 match points - one of the worst finishes by the country in the meet.
GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, who turned 30 years old on Wednesday, split the point with GM David Smerdon on the top board but GMs John Paul Gomez and Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. fell to GM Zhao Zong Yuan and IM Anton Smirnov on boards two and four.
Sadorra, who didn't play in the third and rounds after he was confined in a hospital due to headaches, held his ground on top board and finished with five points in eight games including a surprise draw with reigning world champion GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the sixth round.
The women's squad wound up with a better effort as it landed 34th overall with 13 points, surpassing its 64th place performance in Tromso, Norway two years ago.
The Filipinos, whose trip was bankrolled by the Phl Sports Commission, however, could have made it to the Top 10 at best and 18th at worst with a final round win but ended up absorbing a 1-3 loss to 12th seed Lithuania.
Catherine Secopito delivered the lone win by stunning WIM Salomeja Zaksaite on board three while Janelle Mae Frayna, Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Shania Mae Mendoza fell to GM Viktorija Cmilyte, IM Deimante Daulyte and WFM Daiva Batyte on boards one, two and four, respectively.
Frayna nonetheless made history by becoming the first Filipina to obtain the Woman Grandmaster and men's International Master titles in the same event after scoring seven points in 11 games all made up for everything.
"We're excited about the future especially in women's chess," said GM Jayson Gonzales, the NCFP executive director and women's captain.
The Filipinos are expected to arrive on Thursday night.