By Rey Bancod
Chess legend Eugene Torre yesterday paid tribute to the overall performance of the Philippine team despite a 3-1 defeat to Southeast Asian rival Vietnam in the 43rd World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia Friday.
“I am overall happy with the bonding, attitude and performance of the boys,” said non-playing captain Eugene Torre. “Always positive and helping one another throughout the whole Olympiad.”
The loss, their fourth in the 11-round Swiss System, relegated the Filipinos to 37th place, still a marked improvement from two years ago in Baku, Azerbaijan where they wound up 58th.
China unseated the United States as Open champion after both teams battled to a 2-all draw in the final round.
China, the US and Russia finished with 18 points apiece, but the Asian powerhouse won the tiebreak. The US settled for second with Russia taking third spot.
Since sending a group of teenagers to the 1992 Manila Olympiad, Vietnam has steadily grown into a regional power, outperforming the Filipinos in previous Olympiads.
Friday was no exception as GM Le Quang Liem and GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son stamped their class against GM Julio Catalino Sadorra and GM John Paul Gomez in the first two boards.
IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia, the team’s top scorer, held GM Tran Tuan Minh to a draw, a result duplicated by IM Haridas Pascua against IM Nguyen Ahn Khoi.
Torre said the Nationals played well in the opening and middle game, but except for Garcia, ran into time trouble.
Still, Torre said considering that three of his players were first-timers – Garcia, Pascua and FM Mari Joseph Turqueza, the team exceeded expectations.
“I take my hat off to our young players,” said Torre, Asia’s first GM.
Sadorra, the top board player, suffered his first loss, but still emerged the team’s top scorer with 7.5 points in 11 rounds.
Pascua, playing board four, collected 7 points on six wins against one loss and two draws.
In board three, Garcia made 5 points in the last six rounds for 6.5 points overall while Gomez struggled with 4.5 points in 10 matches.
Turqueza, the reserve player, played only three matches, winning only once for 1 point.
Aside from champion China, two other Asian nations made it into the Top 10:
In women’s play, the Philippines finished 67th after bowing to Australia, 3-1.
WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza lost to WGM Julia Ryjanova and WGM Zhang Jilin, respectively.
Playing in the lower boards, WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego and WIM Bernadette Galas halved the point with WFM Nguyen Thu Giang and IM Irina Berezina, respectively.
The Filipinas ended the tournament with 12 points on five against five losses and a draw.
GM Jayson Gonzales, the women’s team skipper, said the players ran out of stamina and endurance.
“Playing every day at least 4-5 hours per game plus 3 or more hours of preparations before their matches took their toll on the players,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales said players need to be exposed in the same kind of conditions to improve their skills, knowledge and stamina.
China completed a sweep by winning the women’s title, edging Ukraine via tiebreak. Georgia 1 took third place.