Janelle Mae Frayna made history by becoming the Philippines’ first ever chess Woman Chess Grandmaster (WGM).
Frayna achieved the feat after she clinched the third and final WGM score during the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.
She got her GM norm by toppling International Master (IM) Daavademberel Nomin-Erdene of Mongolia in the ninth round.
The 20-year-old Frayna capped the feat by scoring six points on four wins and four draws against just a loss in nine games.
Frayna battled three players with men’s GM titles—Georgia’s Nana Dzagnidze and India’s Dronavalli Harika—one with men’s IM title—Nomin Erdene—and two with WIMs Sabrina Latreche of Algeria and Alejandra Guerrero Rodrigiez of Mexico.
“I’m proud to announce that WIM Janelle Mae Frayna achieved the third and last result to become the first Woman Grandmaster from the Philippines,” said GM Jayson Gonzales, the women’s skipper and Frayna’s personal trainer and coach at Far Eastern University.
Frayna came close to claiming the title after she led with three rounds to go in the World Juniors in India a few weeks back and faltered in the stretch.
She was not to be denied this time.
Frayna’s win against Nomin-Erdene, however, was not enough as the Philippines absorbed a stinging 1.5-2.5 decision to 15th seed Mongolia.
WIM Janelle Jodilyn Fronda’s defeat to IM Tubswhintugs’ Batchimeg on board two decided the Philippines’ doom as Catherine Secopito and Shania Mae Mendoza halved the point with WGM Aoltan Ulzii Enkhtuul and WIM Uuganbayar Lkhamsuren on boards three and four.
The setback pushed the Filipinas from the top 20 down to the top 30 with 11 match points and will clash with 20th seed Italy in the penultimate round aiming nothing less than a win to remain in contention for a top 10 finish.
Like Frayna, GM Eugene Torre is on course of rewriting history as he slew GM Diego Flores in the Philippines 2-2 draw with Argentina.
The 64-year-old Torre now has an undefeated record of eight points on seven wins and two draws, the highest points by any individual player in the 11-round tournament.
But Torre is running fifth in the battle for the gold medal on board three, which will be determined by whoever ends up with the highest performance rating, behind a stellar cast that included GM Wesley So, who is representing the US.
Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi currently leads the way with 2887 followed by Hungarian GM Zoltan Almasi’s 2871 while French GM Laurent Fressinet at No. 4 with 2857.
“Hopefully, Wesley and I could end up as board medallists and I’m also thinking of helping the team win matches,” said Torre, whose lone board medal came in the form a silver in the 1974 Nice Olympiad where he eventually emerged Asia’s first ever GM.
Torre’s win plus Sadorra’s win over GM Sandro Mareco on board one helped the Filipinos turn a 0-2 disadvantage following stinging defeats by GM John Paul Gomez and IM Paulo Bersamina to GMs Federico Perez Ponsa and Alan Pichot on boards two and four, respectively.
The Filipinos, who have skidded in the top 50 with 10 match points, will play Scotland in the fifth round.
And Torre is expected to give out his best to win.