Asia’s first Grandmaster (GM) Eugene Torre delivered consolation to the Philippines by snaring a bronze medal on board three after the Filipino men’s team finished 58th overall in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The 64-year-old Torre posted a marathon win over International Master (IM) Moulthun Ly of Australia to finish unbeaten as he scored 10 points out of the possible 11 on nine victories and two draws.
Torre emerged with the highest total by any participant in the 11-round biennial event but settled for just a bronze since tournament regulation gives the gold to the chesser who ends up with the highest performance rating.
And it went to former Philippine team top board player GM Wesley So, who has represented eventual champion US, as he emerged with a performance rating of 2896, beating silver medal winner GM Zoltan Almasi of Hungary (2845) and Torre (2836).
Torre’s bronze, however, shone like gold as the many-time Olympiad veteran took his first medal since snatching a silver in the 1974 edition in Nice, France where he also became Asia’s first ever GM.
Torre’s mammoth effort couldn’t stop the Philippines from suffering a 1.5-2.5 loss to Australia that sent them skidding to 58th place overall with 12 match points.
It was one of the worst finishes by the Philippines in the meet.
GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, who turned 30 years old on Wednesday, split the point with GM David Smerdon on top board but GMs John Paul Gomez and Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. fell to GM Zhao Zong Yuan and IM Anton Smirnov on boards two and four.
Sadorra, who didn’t play in the third and fourth rounds after he was confined in a hospital due to headaches, held his ground on top board and finished with five points in eight games including a shocking draw with reigning world champion GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway in the sixth round.
The women’s squad wound up with a better effort as it landed 34th overall with 13 points, surpassing its 64th place performance in Tromso, Norway two years ago.
The Filipinos, however, could have made it to the top 10 at best and 18th at worst with a final round win but ended up absorbing a 1-3 loss to 12th seed Lithuania.
Catherine Secopito delivered the lone win by stunning WIM Salomeja Zaksaite on board three while Janelle Mae Frayna, Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Shania Mae Mendoza fell to GM Viktorija Cmilyte, IM Deimante Daulyte and WFM Daiva Batyte on boards one, two and four, respectively.
But Frayna’s historic feats of becoming the first Filipina to ever obtain the Woman GM and men’s International Master titles in the same event after scoring seven points in 11 games all made up for everything.