The Philippine Women’s Team

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

43rd Chess Olympiad (Open Division)
Batumi, Georgia
Sept. 23 — Oct. 6, 2018

Final Standings (Women)

Country Points TB1 TB

1. China 18/22 407.0 30.5

2. Ukraine 18/22 395.5 30.0

3. Georgia 17/22 375.0 28.0

4. Russia 16/22 379.5 30.5

5. Hungary 16/22 372.0 29.0

Total of 150 teams. Georgia as the host country was allowed to field three teams.

Time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 30 minutes play-to-finish, with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1.

China won the Women’s Chess Olympiad on tie-breaks over Ukraine. They showed up in Batumi without the highest rated woman chess player in the world, Hou Yifan, and also the former Women’s World Champion Tan Zhongyi, but anyway still got the job done. Current women’s world champion GM Ju Wenjun won the individual gold for board 1 while board 3 WGM Huang Qian and board 4 GM Lei Tingjie got the silver medals.

Lots of interesting chess was played in the women’s Olympiad, but I want to concentrate on the performance of the Philippine Women’s team, which started like a house on fire and at the halfway point was tied for 12th place (out of 150 teams) and seemingly poised for at least a top-20 finish. It was not to be however as they lost gas in the second half of the tournament. At the end they finished in 67th place with Performance of five wins one draw and five losses for 11/22.

Here is their round-by-round:

Rd 1 defeated Mozambique 4.0-0.0

Rd 2 lost to Slovenia 1.5-2.5

Rd 3 beat Venezuela 3.0-1.0

Rd 4 upset Slovakia 2.5-1.5

Rd 5 held England 2.0-2.0

Rd 6 upset Spain 3.0-1.0

Rd 7 lost to Georgia 2 3.0-1.0

Rd 8 lost to Argentina 1.5-2.5

Rd 9 beat South Korea 3.0-1.0

Rd 10 lost to Moldova 1.5-2.5

Rd 11 lost to Australia 1.0-3.0

Team Captain GM Jayson Gonzales give his assessment of the team’s performance in 2018 Batumi:

It is my belief that we gave our Filipino chess fans some proud and some frustrating moments in this year’s Chess Olympiad. Our team had a superb first half. After six rounds we were tied for 12th places out of 150 participating countries. It is just unfortunate that we failed in the second half of the tournament – in the remaining five rounds the women’s squad only won once (over South Korea) and lost the rest. I believe our ladies could have done better if they had the stamina and endurance to play such long games, over-the-board at least 4-5 hours per game plus another three hours for preparation and post-mortem analysis. There were also some problems with their nerves and emotions, but this can all be addressed by a regular regimen of scientific training and regular strong international competitions in classical time format.

Lately there has been a trend in the Philippines of week-end rapid and blitz tournaments. I am afraid that we cannot improve our world standing unless our players can train and compete regularly at standard time controls.

With this in mind, I am more than willing to sacrifice and dedicate my life for this advocacy. This was the reason I founded the Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence – to teach kids for free and be involved myself in Philippine chess; believing I am giving hope to their dreams, able to inspire and motivate them. I give and share my little resources that I have, but, the greater contribution is giving my vast chess experience and knowledge of which I know is the most important thing in their chess development.

Hopefully, well-meaning people, private organizations and corporate sponsors would grant their assistance to our players — our national treasures.

Very well said, GM Jayson!

The team had a great victory over Spain, the 15th seed, in round 6. The match-ups:

bd01 IM Sabrina Vega Gutierrez 2404 vs WGM Janelle Mae Frayna 2287; 1/2

bd02 FM Marta Garcia Martin 2329 vs WFM Shania Mae Mendoza 2113; 0-1

bd03 IM Ana Matnadze 2362 vs WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego 2102; 1/2

bd04 WGM Monica Calzetta Ruiz 2235 vs WIM Bernadette Galas 2080; 0-1

By the way, let us clarify the titles and how they relate to each other. For women’s titles, the minimum rough equivalent in terms of ELO ratings are:

International Grandmaster (GM) ELO 2300

International Master (IM) ELO 2200

Fide Master (FM) ELO 2100

Woman Grandmaster (WGM) roughly ELO 2100

Woman International Master (WIM) roughly ELO 2000

Woman FIDE Master (WFM) 1900

So as you can see an International Master is, contrary to popular belief, supposed to be stronger than a Woman’s Grandmaster. I remember when WGM Wang Pin, at that time among the strongest Chinese women players, came to the Philippines to take part in the 2000 Equitable Card Chess Classic (where Bong Villamayor got his GM title). I found out that she had six International Master norms, which is much more than is required (3) to get the International Master title. I asked her why she has not applied for the title and she told me that Woman Grandmaster sounds a lot better! Actually, I agree.

As can be seen from the match-ups above the Spanish team out rated us on every board, but that did not deter the team. WFM Shania Mae Mendoza, you may recall I featured her in my July 9 column, is the Philippine women’s national champion and the ASEAN Junior (Under-20) titleholder. She is a Sports & Recreational Management student of Far Eastern University (FEU), meaning that she is well-coached as GM Jayson Gonzales handles that chore for FEU.

Being well-coached means good opening preparation, familiarity with middle game strategies and good endgame technique. Shania demonstrates below that she is deficient in neither.

Mendoza, Shania Mae (2113) — Garcia Martin, Marta (2329) [E01]
Olympiad 2018 (6), 28.09.2018
[WFM Shania Mae Mendoza]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Bd2 Bd6

I didn’t expect my opponent to play 5.Bd65 because she usually goes 5…Be7. In fact I had prepared something for that: 5…Be7 6.Bg2 Nbd7 (6…dxc4 7.Qa4+ Bd7 8.Qxc4 Bc6 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.0–0 0–0 11.Rac1 Nb6 12.Qd3 Na4 13.Nxa4 Bxa4 14.Ne5 c6 15.Nc4) 7.0–0 c6 8.Qc2 b6 9.Rd1 Ba6 10.Ne5 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Nd7 12.cxd5 cxd5 13.Bf4 Rc8 14.Nc3 Rc4 15.e4 in this as well as the previous line White is slightly better.

6.Bg2 0–0 7.0–0 c6 8.Qc2

In the book “The Powerful Catalan” by GM Viktor Bologan his recommendation is 8.Qb3 (Bologan: “Here the queen defends the c4–pawn and also eyes up the pawn on b7”) 8…Nbd7 9.Nc3 dxc4 (9…b6 10.e4! Nxe4 11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.Ng5 Nf6 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Bxe4 Bb7 15.Rfe1 Qd7 16.Rad1 Rfe8 17.Bb4! “White has a positional advantage”) 10.Qxc4 e5 11.Rfd1 exd4 12.Qxd4 White is slightly better here. So why didn’t I play 8.Qb3 here? I just simply forgot my analysis …

8…Nbd7 9.Rd1 Ne4 10.Be1 f5 11.Nfd2 Nef6

I don’t know why she retreated her knight. After 11…Ndf6 12.f3 Nxd2 13.Nxd2 e5 14.dxe5 Bxe5 15.Bf2 f4 I think Black is better.

12.e3 h5

Maybe better is 12…Qe7 13.Nc3 g6 intending …dxc4 and …e6–e5.

13.Nc3 Ng4 14.cxd5 exd5 15.Nf3 Qe7 16.h3 Nh6 17.Nh4 Qe6

In this position, I think black’s plan was to play g5. So I chose to play …


Knowing that e3 would become a weakness.


A pity she didn’t take the pawn. I had intended 18…Qxe3+ 19.Bf2 Qe6 20.Re1 Qf6? (20…Qf7 21.Nf3 Nf6 22.Ne5) 21.Nxd5! cxd5 22.Bxd5+ Nf7 (22…Kh7 23.Re6 Qd8 24.Rxd6 wins) 23.Re6 Qd8 24.Rxd6 White is clearly winning.

19.Bf2 Nf6 20.Bf3 Qf7 21.Qe2 g6 22.Bg2 Ne4 23.Nf3 Qf6

I prefer 23…Qe6 Because I think Black should keep pressuring my weak pawn on e3 24.Re1 Bd7 25.a3 Re7 26.Rac1 Rae8 27.Nxe4 fxe4 28.Ne5 Rf8 29.b4 Be8 30.Rf1 g5 31.fxg5 Bxe5 32.gxh6 Bc7 Black is clearly better.

24.Qf1 Kg7 25.Rac1 Be6 26.a3 Re7 27.Rc2 Rae8 28.Re1

Hereabouts White starts to outplay her higher-rated opponent.

28…Bb8 29.b4 Bd6 30.Na4 Bc8 31.Nb2 a5 32.Nd3 Nf7 33.Nfe5 h4

I think this move was played out of frustration at not finding a way to break through. After 33…g5 34.Qe2 axb4 35.axb4 Qh6 36.Rb1 g4 37.h4 Bd7 the position on the kingside is all closed up and White will be taking the initiative on the queenside.

34.gxh4 Rh8 35.Nf3 Bc7 36.Nde5 Nfd6 37.Ng5 Nxf2 38.Qxf2 Ne4 39.Bxe4 fxe4 40.Qg3 Bd6 41.Rb1 Rc7 42.Kh1 Qf5 43.Rg2 Kg8


44.Nxg6! Qxg6 45.Nxe4 Qxg3 46.Rxg3+ Kf8 47.Nxd6 Rxh4 48.Nxc8 Rxc8 49.Kg2 Rh7 50.Kf3 axb4 51.Rxb4 Ra8 52.a4 Re7 53.h4 Rh7 54.Rh3 Re8 55.h5 Ree7 56.Rb2 Kf7 57.h6 Kf6 58.a5 Re8 59.a6 b5 60.Rc2 Rc8 61.a7 Rxa7 62.h7 Raa8

[62…Rh8 63.Rxc6+ Kg7 64.Rb6 Rxh7 65.Rxh7+ Kxh7 66.Rxb5 is winning for White]

63.Rh6+ Kg7 64.Rcxc6 Rxc6 65.Rxc6 Rb8 66.Rc7+ Kh8 67.Ke2 b4 68.Kd2 b3 69.Kc1 b2+ 70.Kb1 Re8 71.Rc3 Rb8 72.Rc2 Re8?

I think 72…Rb3 is much better because there are drawing chances for black.

White has to find 73.Rc5! which wins 73…Rxe3 74.Kxb2 (74.Rxd5 makes it a bit more difficult 74…Rf3 75.Kxb2 Kxh7 76.Kc2 Rxf4 77.Kd3 Kg6 78.Re5 but it is still a win) 74…Rf3 75.Rxd5 Rxf4 76.Kc3 Kxh7 77.Rg5! book win.

73.Rh2? is only a draw: Rxe3 74.Kxb2 Rd3! (74…Re4 75.Kc3 Rxf4 76.Rh5 Rg4 77.Rxd5 Kxh7 78.Kc4 Kg7 79.Rf5 with a book win) 75.Kc2 Rxd4 76.Rh4 Rc4+ 77.Kd3 Re4 78.Kd2 Re7 79.Kc3 Rxh7 80.Rxh7+ Kxh7 81.Kd4 Kg6 82.Ke5 d4 83.Kxd4 Kf5 84.Ke3 Kf6 85.Ke4 Ke6 draw.

73.Re2 Kxh7 74.Kxb2 Kg6 75.Kc3 Kf5 76.Kd3 Ra8 77.Rc2 Ra3+ 78.Rc3 Ra2 79.Rc8 Ra3+ 80.Ke2 Ra5 81.Rc5 Ra2+ 82.Kf3 Ke6 83.Rc6+ Kf5 84.Rd6 Ra5 85.Rxd5+ 1–0

As you can see there is nothing wrong with Shania’s technique, and she is a good writer as well.

We will continue our story next week.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas for 25 years and he is currently the Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.