by Rey Bancod
Facing a lightweight team in Belgium, the women chess players completed a merciless 4-0 sweep to climb into a share of 15th spot with 5.5 points.
However, the men’s squad took a narrow 2.5-1.5 loss to Spain despite GM Eugene Torre’s victory at board two.
WIM Janelle Mae Frayna, playing the top board, boosted her bid to become the country’s first woman grandmaster when she outclassed WFM Hanne Goossens for her fourth win against one loss and three draws.
Frayna, 20, needs only one norm to complete her WGM title.
In board two, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda roared to her sixth win against two defeats at the expense of Wiebke Barbier.
WIM Catherine Secopito and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza struck in the lower boards against lower-ranked opponents.
Secopito, playing white, took the measure of Sarah Dierckens while Mendoza outplayed Astrid Barbier.
The victory enabled the women’s team to grab the lead in Category B ahead of Azerbaijan 2 and Turkmenistan.
The teams are grouped according to their seeding and the top finishers in each of the five categories will receive trophies.
On Sunday, all four Filipinas return to action against Mongolia which has two international masters and a WGM in the lineup.
The men’s team, on the other hand, takes on 26th-ranked Argentina in the ninth round.
Against powerhouse Spain, the Filipinos could not hold with the black pieces as GMs Catalino Sadorra and Rogelio Barcenilla went down in defeat.
Sadorra, who on Friday held reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway to a draw, lost to GM Francisco Vallejo Pons while Barcenilla bowed to GM David Anton Guijarro on board three.
IM Paulo Bersamina made a good of account of himself on board four when he halved the point with GM Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez.
The other bright spot was provided by Torre, who at 64, is in strong position of winning a fourth individual medal.
Torre, who first played in the Olympiad in 1970, picked up his sixth victory – all with the white pieces – against GM Ivan Salgado Lopez on board two.
The 25-year-old Lopez, who outranks Torre by 215 ELO points, had no answer to the Filipino’s solid positional play and suffered his second loss in seven matches.
Torre, who won the silver at board one during the 1970 Nice Olympiad and two bronzes in separate editions, now leads the race for the gold medal in board three with 7 points in eight games (87.5 percent).
Philippine-born GM Wesley So, now playing for the United States, is tied with GM Tamir Nabaty of Israel with 6 points apiece in 7 games (85.7 percent).