Grandmaster Eugene Torre continued his amazing run with a fifth victory Friday but the Philippines fell to Italy, 2.5-1.5, in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Playing his seventh consecutive match, the 64-year-old Filipino legend disposed of GM Axel Rombaldoni in 35 moves.
Rombaldoni resigned when it became clear he could not stop Torre’s outside passed pawn from reaching the eighth rank.
Torre has now won all five matches with the white pieces, employing the same system that has proven effective even against higher-ranked opponents.
With 6 points on 5 wins and 2 draws, Torre leads the race for the gold medal in board three, ahead of Philippine-born GM Wesley So of the United States.
Torre has 85.7 winning percentage as opposed to So’s 83.3 percent. Also with 83.3 percent were GM Nabaty Tamir of Israel and International Master Semetey Tologontegin of Kyrgyzstan.
Torre won the silver medal at board one in the 1974 Nice Olympiad aside from two bronze medals.
GM Catalino Sadorra drew with GM Daniele Vocaturo in 32 moves.
It was Sadorra’s third draw in four matches and remained the only undefeated Filipino aside from Torre.
But the Italians spoiled the Filipinos’ promising start by winning the next two boards with the white pieces.
GMs John Paul Gomez and GM Rogelio Barcenilla reached the endgame a pawn down and were promptly beaten.
Gomez, playing the second board, bowed to GM Danyyll Divirnyy in 72 moves while Barcenilla went down to GM Sabrino Brunello in 62 moves.
Torre, Gomez and Barcenilla have yet to take a breather.
Gomez has a record of 3 wins against 2 losses and 2 draws while Barcenilla has 4 wins against 2 defeats and a draw.
The Philippines, which slipped to joint 26th place, faces another formidable opponent in Spain on Saturday.
In the women’s section, the Philippines also suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of powerhouse Hungary.
Top board player woman International Master Janelle Mae Frayna threw away a winning match with white and took her first loss at the hands of GM Thanh Trang Hoang in 36 moves.
Frayna, playing without relief, missed the winning line in the middlegame, allowing Thanh to turn the tide of battle.
Christy Lamiel Bernales, on board three, absorbed her third defeat in four matches against WGM Tricia Gara while WIM Catherine Secopito bowed to IM Anita Gara.
The only bright spot was provided by WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda who whipped IM Szidorna Lazarne Vajda in 44 moves for her fifth win against two losses.
The defeat pulled down the Filipinas into a tie for 25th spot with 4.5 points. They take on Belgium in the eighth round. (Rey Bancod)