Chess Olympiad: Philippine men’s team beats Albania, 2.5-1.5

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THE Philippines survived a feisty Albania, 2.5-1.5, to slowly creep back into the thick of things after seven rounds in the men’s division of the 43rd World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia Monday night.

Grandmaster Julio Catalino Sadorra and International Master Haridas Pascua bested IMs Dritan Mehmeti and Ilir Seitaj on boards one and four, respectively, while IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia turned a losing position to a draw with FIDE Master Franc Ashiku on board three as the Filipinos escaped with the win.

The Philippines, which is being bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission and backed by NCFP president Butch Pichay, thus moved further up the standings in the top 60 with eight points after lurking outside the top 100 two rounds before.

GM John Paul Gomez blundered away a pawn and then a rook and fell to untitled Llambi Pasko on second board.

Thankfully, Garcia came to the country’s rescue by coming through with a miraculous draw.

The Philippines was playing Uruguay in the eighth round at press time hoping to climb further up in this biennial, 11-round tournament being currently led by Azerbaijan, Poland, and the United States with 13 points apiece.

Interestingly, one of the spearheads of the Americans is Caviter-born GM Wesley So, who has a perfect six points on five wins and to draws.

In women’s play, the Pinay chessers absorbed a 1-3 beating at the hands of the Georgian’s second team to drop out of the top 20.

A day after upsetting 15th seed Spain, the Philippines ran out brilliancy as Woman IMs Shania Mae Mendoza and Bernadette Galas lost to WGMs Inga Charkhalashvili and Miranda Mikadze on boards two and four, respectively, while WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego halved the point with IM Salome Melia and EIM Sofia Gvetadze on boards one and three, respectively.

The stinging defeat sent the Philippines from a share of No. 13 to a 20-country pack at No. 24 with nine points.