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PH draws with Argentina

Torre, Sadorra save day for Pinoy chessers in Baku.

Grandmasters Eugene Torre and Catalino Sadorra saved the day for the Philippines which salvaged a 2-all draw with Argentina Sunday in the ninth round of the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Torre, still playing at a high-level at 64 years old, chalked up his seventh victory – his first with the black pieces – against GM Diego Flores who fell prey in 42 moves.

The unbeaten Filipino has now collected 8 points, the most by anyone in the field, but remains in fifth place in the race for individual medals in board three.

The top individual performers are no longer determined by winning percentage, but by rating performance.

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia leads in board three with a performance rating of 2887. Torre’s performance rating is 2804.

Also in the running is Philippine-born GM Wesley So of the United States who is in third place with 2862.

“Sana makakuha kami ng medals ni Wesley,” said Torre, hours before the Filipinos faced Scotland in the penultimate round.

Sadorra, smarting from his loss against GM Francisco Vallejo Pons of Spain Saturday, pounced on a gross blunder by GM Sandro Mareco to escape with a 49-move win also with black.

In a match that swung like a pendulum, Sadorra was two pawns down with compensation at one point until Mareco made a fatal pawn capture with a bishop on the 48th move.

Mareco overlooked a knight fork that cost him a major piece and promptly resigned after Sadorra made his move.

Earlier, GM John Paul Gomez and International Master Paulo Bersamina lost with white against higher-ranked opponents.

Gomez, playing board two, bowed to GM Ponsa Perez while Bersamina lost to GM Alan Pichot in the fourth board.

The Filipinos are in 56th place with 5 points and need to sweep their last two assignments to improve on their previous performance.

The United States and Ukraine share top spot with 8 points, half-a-point ahead of top seed Russia.

In the women’s section, the Filipinas absorbed a 2.5-1.5 loss to Mongolia.

WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda was the lone casualty at board two, losing to IM Tuvshintugs Batchimeg.

The rest of the matches ended in draws.

WIM Janelle Mae Frayna, playing the top board, drew with IM Davaademberel Nomin-Erdene; WIM Catherine Secopito split the point with WGM Altan-Ulzii Enkhtuul; and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza agreed to a truce with WIM Uuganbayar Lkhmsuren.

With the draw, Frayna has complied with the required 6 points in nine matches needed to become the country’s first woman grandmaster.

“Unofficially, Frayna has complied with her third and final norm to become WGM,” said women’s captain GM Jayson Gonzales.

The Filipinas, who are in 28th place with 5.5 points, take on Italy next.

China is on top of the standings with 8 points followed by Poland with 7.5 points. Tied for third with 7 points are Ukraine, Russia, India and the United States. (REY BANCOD)