By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Grandmaster Mark Paragua produced a giant-sized victory over heavyweight Jan-Krzysztof Duda and the Philippines pulled off a gutsy 2-2 draw with fifth seed Poland in the seventh round Friday in the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.
The New York-based Paragua beat the reigning World Cup champion and world No. 18 Duda in 36 moves to keep the Filipinos in title hunt.
The massive win and GM Banjo Barcenilla’s 39-move draw with GM Kacper Piorun of an English duel on second board helped the Filipinos secure the standoff and a place in an 18-country logjam at 14th place with 10 match points apiece.
It also overhauled an early 1.5-0.5 deficit following a loss by GM Darwin Laylo to GM Mateusz Bartel on board four and a draw by GM John Paul Gomez with GM Wojciech Moranda on board three.
It was the third upset in a row by the Filipinos, who are being bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission, after pulling the rug from under fancied Sweden, 2.5-1.5, in the fifth round Tuesday and escaping with a 2-2 truce with the favored Israelis in the next round.
But the draw against Poland could be their biggest and most memorable one after the country held a team that owns an impressive average rating of 2654 compared to its 2451 norm.
The 52nd-seeded Philippines hopes to continue its impressive showing when it battles 25th pick Greece in the eighth round Saturday in this 11-round biennial event.
Meanwhile, the Filipinas overpowered the Bolivians, 3.5-1.5, to enter the top 30 along with a big group with nine points.
WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WIMs Marie Antoinette San Diego and Kylen Joy Mordido delivered the wins on boards one, three and four while WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda split the point with WFM Maria Eugenia Ramirez on board two.
They play the Slovenians in the eighth round.