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PH downs Costa Rica

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Torre held to a draw, but teammates deliver.

Grandmaster Eugene Torre was held to a draw after three straight wins, but his teammates delivered a big 3.5-0.5 victory over Costa Rica Monday in the fourth round of the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Playing black for the first time, the 64-year-old Filipino legend halved the point with GM Bernal Gonzalez Acosta after 64 moves.

Neither player held a substantial advantage in an encounter that fizzled out into a drawn rook-and-pawn endgame.

GMs John Paul Gomez and Rogelio Barcenilla got to play white for the first time and secured wins while International Master Paulo Bersamina bounced back with black in the fourth board.

Gomez, playing the top board for the third time, punished IM Sergio Minero Pineda’s lackluster handling of the French defense to win after 44 moves.

At the end, Gomez had an unstoppable passed h-pawn.

Barcenilla, on the other hand, pounced on IM Leonardo Valdes Romero’s mistake in the middlegame to complete a 74-move victory.

Both players had little room for maneuver in a closed position until Romero was forced to give up his knight for two pawns to break the game.

Barcenilla, however, found the right replies under time pressure and converted his material advantage to victory.

A day after losing with white, Bersamina scored a patient 43-move victory with black against IM Alexis Murillo Tsijli.

Tsijli, trying to complicate a quiet position, gave up the exchange for an extra pawn, but couldn’t follow through as Bersamina asserted himself.

Following their third win against one defeat, the Filipinos climbed into a tie for 14th spot, a full point behind defending champion China, Azerbaijan 1, Netherlands, India, Belarus and Ukraine.

Second seed United States led a big group of 3.5 pointers after being held to a draw by the Czech Republic.

Top seed Russia suffered a shock 2.5-1.5 loss to No. 5 Ukraine in the day’s top board pairing while India edged Cuba, 2.5-1.5.

China struck in the first two boards to whip Italy, 3-1, while Vietnam was a 3-1 winner over Ireland.

Top board player Catalino Sadorra returns to action after a two-day rest when the Filipinos clash with South Africa Tuesday. Bersamina takes a breather.

Meanwhile, the women’s team fought Canada to a 2-all draw.

Woman FIDE Master Shania Mae Mendoza, seeing action for the first time, saved the day with a 48-move win over Maili-Jade Ouellet.

Mendoza sacrificed a bishop for two pawns to launch a massive kingside attack that Ouellet was unable to fend off.

The win made up for WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda’s sorry loss to Yuan Yuanling in 70 moves.

Fronda was an exchange up, but made some bad decisions toward the end to suffer her second straight defeat.

Two other matches ended in draws.

WIM Janelle Mae Fronda split the point with FIDE Master Zhou Qiyu in 31 moves while WIM Catherine Secopito battled Lali Agbabishvili to a 51-move draw.

Only four teams – Ukraine, Serbia, Russia and Kazakhstan – remain unbeaten after rounds in the women’s section.
The Filipinas, who will face Algeria in the fifth round, share 32nd spot with 2.5 points. (REY BANCOD)