THE ray of hope vanished for the Philippines as its men’s and women’s teams wound up with losses in the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.
The Filipinos, with Grandmaster Julio Catalino Sadorra absorbing his first defeat on board 1, bowed to the Vietnamese, 1-3, in the Open division, while the Filipinas yielded to the Australians, also via 1-3, in the distaff side.
As a result, the Filipinos dropped from 19th to 37th place in the 185-team Open division ruled by the Chinese following a 2-2 standoff against the Americans, the 2016 Baku (Azerjaiban) Olympiad champions.
Still, the Filipinos, mentored by GM Eugene Torre, bettered their performance in Baku, where they ended up 58th with 14 match points.
Hobbled by only one win in their last five matches, the Filipinas pooled 1 match point and tumbled 21 notches to 67th place among 151 teams. They took 34th spot in Baku, also under coach GM Jayson Gonzales.
International Master Jan Emmanuel Garcia averted a shutout for the Filipinos when he bested GM Tuan Minh Tran in 66 moves of an English Opening on board 3, but GM John Paul Gomez and IM Haridas Pascua fell to GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and IM Nguyen Anh Khoi on boards 2 and 4, respectively.
WIMs Marie Antoinette San Diego and Bernadette Galas drew with Woman Fide Master Thu Giang Nguyen and IM Irina Berezina on boards 3 and 4, but Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza dropped their boards 1 and 2 matches against WGMs Julia Ryjanova and Jilin Zhang.
Mendoza, the reigning national women’s champion, earned a WIM result by scoring 6.0 points in 10 games. Frayna scored 5.5 points in 11 games, Galas 5 of 8, San Diego 4.5 of 8, and WIM Catherine Secopito 3 of 7.
The United States-based Sadorra emerged the Philippines’ top scorer with 7.5 points in a no-relief stint, followed by Pascua with seven points in 10 games and Garcia with 6.5 also in 10 games. Gomez chipped in five points in 10 games and FM Mari Joseph Turqueza a point in three games.
Following its conquest of the Philippines, Vietnam climbed to seventh spot in the Open division, the best among Southeast Asian nations.
China and the USA, with Cavite-born GM Wesley So handling board 2, actually ended with 18 points each, but the Chinese took the title via the Sonneborn Berger tiebreaker. Russia also finished with 18, but settled for third with the lowest SB points. Host Georgia 1 placed third with 17 points.
China made it a double by topping the Women’s competition at the expense of Ukraine, also via tiebreak, duplicating the feat of Russia in the 1986 Dubai Chess Olympiad.
Team Philippines was sent to the Olympiad by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines under Deputy Speaker Butch Pichay and funded by the Philippine Sports Commission.
The next Olympiad will be held in Khanty-Mansiysky, Russia, in 2020, under the helm of newly elected World Chess Federation (FIDE) president Arkady Dvorkovic.