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PH stuns Georgia

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Pinay chessers topple 4-time champ and 4th seed.

The Philippines produced a king-size upset in the women’s section Saturday when it toppled four-time champion Georgia, 2.5-1.5, in the second round of the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Ranked a lowly 46th, the Filipinas showed resilience against the fourth seeded squad, picking up the full point on the second and fourth boards with the white pieces.

Woman International Master Jan Jodilyn Fronda (ELO 2128), playing white, fought through a losing endgame to upset Grandmaster Bela Khotenashvili (2463) in 47 moves.

Khotenashvili, a silver medalist on board two in 2014, built a favorable rook-and-pawn endgame, but missed the winning line on the 26th move despite taking nearly two minutes to make.

Still, the game was still heading to a draw until the Georgian made a fatal king move on the 31st.

Fronda quickly capi talized with a pawn sacrifice that enabled her to create two passed pawns on both ends of the board.

Khotenashvili was unable to prevent one of the pawns from reaching the eighth rank and resigned a few moves later.

Georgia’s woes did not end there.

WIM Catherine Secopito (2119) outplayed International Master Salome Melia (2419) in 58 moves also with white.

Secopito hung tough despite some tense moments in the middlegame and rose to the occasion in the endgame which she dominated.

Melia failed to see the right reply against Secopito’s advancing center passed pawn and was forced to give up her knight to stop a queening pawn.

When the end came, Secopito had a pawn and bishop against Melia’s lone king.

Georgia scored the lone point through IM Nino Batsiashvili (2474) who outclassed Christy Lamiel Bernales (2065) on board three.

In top board action, WIM Janelle Mae Frayna (2281) held GM Nana Dzagnidze (2522) to a fighting draw.

Georgia last won the title in 2008 in Dresden, Germany. It previously triumphed in 1992, 1994 and 1996.

Dzagnidze and Khotenashvili, Georgia’s top two players, are two of only 33 women holding GM titles.

GM Jayson Gonzales, the women’s team captain, paid tribute to the team’s fighting spirit.

“We were fortunate that both (Fronda and Secopito) of them won their games. Earlier, I thought they were losing. But somehow, their resilience and fighting spirit prevailed at the end,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said their training and preparations at home are paying off.

The improbable win set up the Filipinas against No. 5 India on Sunday.

Thirty one teams, led by top seed China, remain undefeated after two rounds.

Meanwhile, the Filipinos dropped a 2.5-1.5 decision to Paraguay in the Open section.

Grandmaster Eugene Torre (2447), playing white on board three, scored his second straight win at the expense of GM Jose Fernando Cubas (2470), but compatriots GMs John Paul Gomez (2492) and Rogelio Barcenilla (2455) lost on the second and fourth boards with black.

Gomez bowed to GM Axel Bachmann (2492) while Barcenilla went down to GM Zenon Franco Ocampos (2496).

The Filipinos get a chance to make up for lost ground when they take on Nigeria Sunday. (REY BANCOD)