MANILA, Philippines – The gritty Philippine men’s team suffered its first loss in the ongoing 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad after bowing to higher-ranked Armenians at the WOW Convention Center in Istanbul, Turkey.
Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So (ELO 2652) halved the point with World No. 2 GM Levon Aronian (2816) after 51 moves of Ruy Lopez Opening using the advantageous white pieces in their top board encounter.
GM Oliver Barbosa (2554) split the point with GM Sergie Movsesian (2698) after 37 moves of English Opening on Board 2.
GM Mark Paragua (2508) also settled for a truce with GM Vladimir Akopian (2687) after 45 moves of Slav defense on Board 3.
Meanwhile, GM candidate and International Master (IM) Oliver Dimakiling (2428) yielded to GM Gabriel Sargissian (2693) after 25 moves of Irregular Opening on Board 4.
Despite the team’s loss, National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) Chairman Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr. lauded the Filipino woodpushers for their gallant stand against the Armenians.
"We lost against Armenia, a power house in the chess world, but today we have shown to the whole world that the Philippine Chess is a future world power,” said Pichay, who watched the game live through the internet.
“No less than Aronian sang praises for So in an interview in Istanbul. Because he salvaged a draw against a better position of Wesley So. I thought mananalo pa si Wesley," he added.
Pichay also commended the other players.
"Oliver and Mark are both playing at their best, in fact I think they (Barbosa and Paragua ) are playing like grandmasters with an Elo rating of 2700," added Pichay.
Once again, So had preserved his no-loss record against GMs with 2700+ rating.
This was the second time that So had played a 2800+ rated player. The first was against Bulgaria’s GM Veselin Topalov rated 2803 then, FIDE’s 2005 World Chess Champion.
Their game ended in a draw in the 2010 Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.
The 35th seed Filipinos into a tie for 16th to 36th placers.
Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre, who is making a record 21st appearance in the Olympiad, will be playing in the next round said Pichay.
The long-time Filipino champion is still mourning the death of his mother, whose interment is scheduled Saturday.
The Philippines women’s team, meantime, toppled the Mexicans, 3-1, to jump to a share of 13th to 31st placers with 18 others at six points.
Woman International Maser (WIM) Catherine Perena, Woman National Master (WNM) Janelle Mae Frayna and WNM Jan Jodilyn Fronda won their respective matches to negate Woman FIDE master (WFM) Rulp Ylem Jose's loss on board 2. – By Marlon Bernardino