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    Janelle Mae Frayna makes history as Philippines' first woman chess grandmaster

    Sep 12, 2016
    Janelle Frayna making the ceremonial toss against Chinese GM Wei Yi during the Asian Cities Chess Team Championships in Tagaytay three years ago in this file photo.

    BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - Janelle Mae Frayna made history on Sunday night (Monday, Manila time) by becoming the country’s first ever chess Woman Grandmaster.

    Frayna achieved the feat after clinching her third and final WGM result with a 33-move draw against International Master Daavademberel Nomin-Erdene of Mongolia in a stinging 1.5-2.5 loss in the ninth round of the 42nd World Chess Olympiad here.

    Frayna, 20, accomplished it by scoring six points on four wins and four draws against just a loss in nine games.

    She battled three players with men’s GM titles - Georgia's Nana Dzagnidze and India's Dronavalli Harika - and one with a men’s IM title - Nomin Erdene - while two others are WIMs namely, Sabrina Latreche of Algeria and Alejandra Guerrero Rodrigiez of Mexico.

    "I'm proud to announce that WIM Janelle Mae Frayna achieved the third and last result to become the first Woman Grandmaster from the Philippines," said GM Jayson Gonzales, the Philippine women's team skipper and Frayna's personal trainer and coach at Far Eastern University.

    Frayna came close to claiming the title in the World Juniors in India weeks back after leading with three rounds to go, only to falter entering the homestretch.

    This time, she was not about to be denied.

    WIM Janelle Jodilyn Fronda's defeat to IM Tubswhintugs' Batchimeg on board two spelled the Filipinas’ doom as Catherine Secopito and Shania Mae Mendoza halved the point with WGM Aoltan Ulzii Enkhtuul and WIM Uuganbayar Lkhamsuren on boards three and four, respectively.

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    The setback pushed the Filipinas from the Top 20 down to the top 30 with 11 match points and will clash with 20th seed Italy in the penultimate round, aiming nothing less than a win to remain in contention for a top 10 finish.

    Like Frayna, GM Eugene Torre is on course to re-writing history as he slew GM Diego Flores in the Filipinos’ 2-2 draw against Argentina.

    The 64-year-old Torre now has an undefeated record of eight points on seven wins and two draws, the highest point so far by any individual player in the 11-round tournament. 

    But Torre is running fifth in the battle for the gold medal on board three, which will be determined by whoever ends up with the highest performance rating, behind a stellar cast that included Filipino GM Wesley So, who is now representing the United States.

    Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi currently leads the way with 2887, followed by Hungarian GM Zoltan Almasi's 2871, while French GM Laurent Fressinet is at No. 4 with 2857.

    "Hopefully, Wesley and I could end up as board medallists and I'm also thinking of helping the team win matches," said Torre, whose lone board medal came in the form of a silver in the 1974 Nice Olympiad where he eventually emerged Asia's first ever GM.

    Torre's win plus Sadorra's victory over GM Sandro Mareco on board one helped the Filipinos turn a 0-2 disadvantage following defeats by GM John Paul Gomez and IM Paulo Bersamina to GMs Federico Perez Ponsa and Alan Pichot on boards two and four, respectively.

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    The Filipinos, who have fallen far behind the leaders with 10 match points, will play Scotland in the fifth round.

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    Janelle Frayna making the ceremonial toss against Chinese GM Wei Yi during the Asian Cities Chess Team Championships in Tagaytay three years ago in this file photo.
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