TEAM Philippines will be gunning for sweeps in the Open and Women divisions when the 43rd Chess Olympiad starts on Monday in Batumi, Georgia.
Pitted against San Marino and Mozambique, respectively, Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Jayson Gonzalez are hoping to get a big early win at Sport Palace.
Torre, non-playing captain of the men's team, will be fielding GM Julio Catalino Sadorra at the top board alongside Olympiad newcomers International Master Jan Emmanuel Garcia, GM-elect Haridas Pascua and Fide Master Mari Joseph Turqueza against San Marino, which is ranked 144th against No. 54 Philippines in the 185-team Open division.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, picked Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna, WIM Catherine Secopito, national champion WFM Shania Mae Mendoza and WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego to kick off the campaign of the 43rd-ranked Filipinas against the Mozambicans, rated 117 among 151 entries in the distaff side.
The US-based Sadorra will tangle with Paul Rossini on board 1, Garcia will battle Giancarlo Berardi on board 2, Pascua will face FM Enrico Grassi on board 3, and Turqueza will tackle Candidate Master Danilo Volpinari on board 4.
Benefiting from a two-month European stint, Frayna will battle WIM Vania Fausto Da Vilhete, Secopito will tackle Katina Efentakes, Mendoza will clash with Suzete Vicente Jefo, while San Diego will test Oneila Andre Sitoe in that order.
"Kaya naman (4-0) pareho," said Gonzalez. "Medy mahihina pa ang kalaban."
"Maganda na ang makauna kasi malamang bukas (Round 2) medyo malakas malakas na (ang kalaban) owing to the accelerated Swiss System."
Under the format, a win, regardless whether it's by 4-0, 3-1 or 2.5-1.5, is worth 2.0 points, a draw one point, and a loss zero.
Apart from Frayna, Gnzalez is pinning his hopes on Mendoza, who topped the women's section of the 2018 Battle of Grandmasters and continues to play well.
Torre opted to give GM John Paul Gomez a rest in order to give exposure to Garcia and Turqueza and boost Pascua's chances of raising his current 2435 rating to 2500 in order to become a full-fledged GM.
Team Philippines was sent here by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines headed by Deputy Speaker Prospero "Butch" Pichay and bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission.