MANILA, Philippines – The resurgent Filipino chessers will resume their campaign in the 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad when they battle dangerous Romania in the 11th and final round Sunday at the WOW Convention Center in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Filipinos drew their last matches against Southeast Asian rival Vietnam, 2-2, to end up in a share of ninth to 15th places in the open section before the tournament took a break Saturday.
Grand Master (GM) Wesley So remains the only undefeated player in the team after 10 rounds and may still improve his individual performance if he manages to defeat GM Constantin Lupulesco using the disadvantageous black pieces on Board 1.
GM Oliver Barbosa will meet GM Mircea-Emilian Parligras using the white pieces on Board 2, while GM Eugene Torre will take on GM Levente Vajda using the black pieces on Board 3. Finally, GM Mark Paragua will battle GM Vladislav Nevednichy using the white pieces on Board 4.
The Philippines has a good chance to stop Romania and improve its final standing from a worst-ever 50th in the 2010 Chess Olympiad in Russia. The Filipino chessers also have a chance to top its best-ever finish, when the country wound up in seventh place in the 1988 Greece Olympiad.
The 35th-seeded Filipinos have 14 points based on a scoring system that awards two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss.
“It’s a make or break situation,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) executive director and head coach GM Jayson Gonzales.
The Filipinos opened their campaign with a bang, blasting Libya (4-0), Moldova (2.5-1.5), and Kazakhstan (4-0) in the first three rounds, before losing to 2008 world champion Armenia (1.5-2.5) in the fourth round.
They rebounded by beating Iceland (3-1) in the fifth and Bulgaria (2.5-1.5) in the sixth before settling for a draw with Hungaray (2-2) in the seventh. The Filipinos then upset Englang (3-1) in the eighth round.
But they failed to continue their winning ways after losing to China (0.5-3.5), costing them a chance to catch up to Russia, Armenia and United States in the leaderboard after the ninth round.
“If we beat China in the ninth round, ‘yun na sana ang turning point sa possible na coveted gold medal,” said NCFP president Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr.
Meanwhile, in the women’s division, International Master (IM) Catherine Perena will try to steer the Philippines past No. 39 Boznia and Herzegovina.
Perena will square off with IM Elena Boric on Board 1, while National Master (NM) Janelle Mae Frayna will be opposite Fide Master (FM) Aleksandra Dimitrijevic on Board 2. NM Jedara Docena will be against FM Dijana Dengler on Board 3 and NM Jan Jodilyn Fronda will be up agains Sanja Dedijer on Board 4.
The 57th-seeded Filipinas have 11 points, good for a share of 39th to 57th places. The women’s team is coming off a 2-2 draw against Malaysia in the tenth round. By Marlon Bernardino