By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
The Philippines got off to a rousing start as the men’s and women’s squads blanked their respective rivals Friday night in the 44th World Chess Olympiad campaign in Chennai, India.
The PH men’s squad toppled Oman while the women’s crew crushed Guam in similar 4-0 scores to make their presence felt in the prestigious tournament.
Grandmasters Mark Paragua, John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo and International Master Paulo Bersamina outsmarted their rivals while WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Woman FIDE Master Shania Mendoza, WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego and WIM Kylen Joy Mordido likewise proved classy.
While the GM Jayson Gonzales-mentored women’s squad had an easy time, there were some anxious moments in the GM Eugene Torre-coached men’s side particularly in the game of Paragua, who fought his way back to outlast an upset-conscious FM Amer Al Maashani.
The men’s team will next play sixth pick Azerbaijan, an all-GM team that is expected to field in World No. 10 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov after resting him in its 4-0 blanking of Algeria, in the second round at press time.