By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
The Philippine men’s team banked heavily on Grandmaster Mark Paragua’s huge win over a fancied rival to stun the higher-ranked Sweden, 2.5-1.5, in the fifth round of the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India Tuesday night.
Paragua bested GM Erik Blomqvist on board one, a victory that proved vital as his teammates settled for draws against their 31st-seeded Swedish foes.
John Paul Gomez split the point with Tiger Hillarp Persson, Darwin Laylo drew with Jonathan Westerberg, and Paulo Bersamina halved the point with Emanuel Berg.
The victory propelled the Filipinos for a share of eighth place with 19 others with eight match points and arranged a next meeting with Israel, which bowed to Wesley So-led United States, 2.5-1.5.
The women’s crew, however, suffered a 2.5-1.5 defeat at the hands of 17th ranked Netherlands to slip to a share of 39th place with six match points.
Woman International Master Marie Antoinette San Diego provided the lone victory for the Filipinas after dispatching FIDE Master Machteld Van Foreest on board three.
WIM Kylen Joy Mordido escaped with a draw with WIM Rosa Ratsma on board four, while Woman Grandmaster Janelle Frayna and WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda yielded to Eline Roebers and Peng Zhaoqin, respectively.
Up next for the 39th-seeded Filipinas will be Ecuador, which prevailed over Sri Lanka, 3.5-0.5.