By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Woman Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna lifted the Philippines to a shock 2.5-1.5 win over fancied Slovenia Saturday to barge back into the top 20 in the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.
Frayna pounced on an endgame blunder by a higher-ranked International Master Laura Unuk to turn what appeared to be a standoff duel into a 66-move victory of an English Opening on top board that sealed the match.
Jan Jodilyn Fronda provided the other win at the expense of WIM Zala Urh on the second board while WGM candidate Kylen Joy Mordido drew with WIM Teja Vidic on the fourth and last board.
WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego was the lone casualty after she lost to WIM Lara Janzelj on third board.
The upset triumph catapulted the Filipinas, whose participation in this 11-round, 12-day event is being funded by the Philippine Sports Commission, back into a 10-team tie at 17th with 11 match points.
And the 39th-seeded Filipinas could climb even further if it could pull off another upset against the 12th ranked Hungarians in the ninth round set Sunday.
The men’s team, in contrast, saw its impressive run grind to a halt after succumbing to the favored Greeks, 2.5-1.5, following a heartbreaking defeat by GM Banjo Barcenilla to GM Nikolaos Theodorou on second board.
GMs Mark Paragua and John Paul Gomez and IM Paulo Bersamina all drew their games on boards one, three and four, respectively.
The setback sent the Filipinos reeling out into a 22-nation logjam at 35th with 10 points.
They battle higher-ranked Georgia in the ninth round.