THE country is looking for a top 20 finish in the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey later this month.
Eugene Torre, Asia’s first ever Grandmaster, said that is the goal of the young Philippine team bound for the August 27 to September 10 meet to be played at the Istanbul Expo Center.
“We’ll be aiming for a top 20 finish, but if given a chance to be in the Top 10 again, we’ll grab it” said Torre in the weekly Scoop Sa Kamayan session at the Kamayan Restaurant in Padre Faura.
“Reachable yung top 20,” admitted the 60-year-old Torre, owner of an Olympiad record of 19 straight appearances and 21st stint overall.
“But if we will look into the experience of our line-up based on the player’s Elo rating, the chances of landing in the top 10 will not be that totally impossible.”
The Philippines finished 50th during the 39th edition of the tournament held in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia in 2010.
GM Wesley So will man the top board in the men’s team as the 18-year-old Filipino has the highest Elo rating of 2650.
Board Two will be handled by Oliver Barbosa (2554), Torre (2416) on Board Three, and Mark Paragua (2508) on Board 4. Paragua recently topped the National Open championship, which served as qualifier to determine the members of the Philippine team to the Olympiad.
Alternate member is International Master Oliver Dimakiling (2428).
National Chess Federation of the Philippines executive director Jayson Gonzales, who will be coaching both the men’s and women’s sides, said the Filipina woodpushers are likewise capable of a higher finish than the 44th place they achieved two years ago.
“Like the men’s team, our women’s squad, which is a combination of veteran and new players, has the capability to finish better that the last time around,” said Gonzales, who was accompanied by Torre, So, Paragua and Dimakiling and the women’s team members of Woman International Master Catherine Perena, Woman National Master Jodilyn Fronda and Woman Fide Master Rulp Ulen Jose in the same session.
Other members of the women’s team are WNM Janelle Mae Frayna and WNM Jedara Docena.
The Filipino chessers are currently ranked 31st in the world on the strength of their strong showing in the international field, the most recent of which were the twin triumphs of So in the Montreal Open and Toronto Open, respectively.
The Filipinas, on the other hand, are ranked 52nd in the world.
A send-off ceremony will be held in honor of the teams on Tuesday to be hosted by businessman-sportsman Daniel Francisco.
Anchored by Torre, the Philippine team finished seventh during the 1988 Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece, the highest ever achieved by the country in the history of the biennial meet.
Torre also powered another Philippine squad to an 11th place finish in the 1974 Olympiad in Nice, France where he completed the norms to gain the GM title.