MANILA, Philippines – Grand Masters (GM) Eugene Torre and Mark Paragua lost to their respective rivals in a pair of slam-bang final round matches as the 35th-seeded Philippines suffered a heartbreaking loss in the 11th and final round of the 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad.
The Filipino chessers bowed to the 25th-seeded Romania, 1-3, to finish in 21st place at the conclusion of the tournament at the WOW Convention Center in Istanbul, Turkey last Sunday.
The 60-year-old Torre, appearing in his record 21st Olympiad, bowed to GM Levente Vajda on Board 3 after 36 moves of Scotch Potter Variation duel.
Paragua, on the other hand, yielded to GM Vladislav Nevednichy on Board 4 after 40 moves of Pseudo-King's Indian skirmish.
Undefeated Filipino GM Wesley So split the point with GM Constantin Lupulescu on Board 1 after 47 moves of Slav defense, while GM Oliver Barbosa also halved the point with GM Mircea-Emilian Parligras on Board 2 after 39 moves of Queen's Indian defense.
With their loss in the final round, the gritty Filipino chessers were stuck at 14 points, good for a share of 19th to 33rd place.
"We lost to Romania, but I’m still proud of the boys. We fought the best team who later became champions (Armenia)," said National Chess Federation of the Philippines chairman and president Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr.
"A tie for 19th place and over-all 21st place was not bad after all. This was my prediction before the start of the Istanbul Chess Olympiad," Pichay added.
The Filipinos got some consolation as they got the bronze medal in Group B, behind winners Sweden and runners-up Denmark.
The Philippines finished in 21st place overall, an improvement from their 50th-place finish two years ago in Russia, which was the country's worst ever performance.
The chessers were unable to surpass its best ever finish of seventh place in the 1988 edition of the tournament, however.
"We have a young team and we will be better in the next Olympiad," Pichay said.
Armenia and Russia finished tied at the top of the leaderboard with 19 points, but Armenia won the gold by virtue of having the better tie-break points. Ukraine (18 points) finished with bronze.
Russia’s women’s team finished with 19 points to win the gold, followed by China and Ukraine. By Marlon Bernardino